Data on Spending by President

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The Table

		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)

Analysis

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.

Methodology

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.

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