Data on Spending by President
Left Outlays Growth Office %GDP Years per Year Bush II 2003 19.9 3 0.50 Clinton 2000 18.4 8 -0.46 Bush I 1992 22.1 4 0.23 Reagan 1988 21.2 8 -0.06 Carter 1980 21.7 4 0.08 Ford 1976 21.4 3 0.57 Nixon 1973 19.7 5 -0.16 Johnson 1968 20.5 5 0.18 Kennedy 1963 19.6 3 0.57 Eisenhower 1960 17.9 8 -0.19 Truman 1952 19.4
Here's the same table, tightened up, sorted best-to-worst:
Government Growth per year, as percent of GDP. Sorted Best-to-Worst. D:Clinton -0.46 (Government got Smaller) R:Reagan -0.06 (no change) D:Carter 0.08 (no change) R:Bush I 0.23 (Government got Bigger) R:Bush II 0.50 (Government got Bigger) R:Ford 0.57 (Government got Bigger)
Fifty years ago, the Republicans were mildly interested in keeping government small and efficient. For example, Eisenhower and Nixon both reduced the size of the government slightly.
That all ended with Ford. Since Ford, it seems as if the two parties have traded places: the Republicans are enlarging the government rapidly, and the Democrats are trying to keep spending down.
The change in the Republican party that started with Ford is visible in most of the other statistics as well. Check them out.
Here's how I compiled this table: I went to the OMB and got the table that shows total government outlays for each year starting in 1940. (I ignored the data prior to 1950 - that data includes world war 2, which throws everything outta whack.) For each president, I wrote down the last year he was in office, and therefore, the last year he had control over the budget. I also wrote down the total outlays for that year. I also wrote down the spending as a percent of GDP. I then compared each president's spending as a percentage of GDP to the level of the president before, calculated the difference, and divided by the number of years in office.