It really is Bush’s fault, Part 3: Spend-and-spend

Mark Shields once joked in 1992: “for years, the Democrats were the tax-and-spend party, and the Republicans were the borrow-and-spend party.” The 1990s in general clouded the issue, but, sadly, in the aughts that comparison came back with a vengeance.

The Congressional Budget Office detailed the disaster that was Bush the Younger’s domestic spending record a couple years ago. I noted it here. The trouble actually began long before 9/11, Afghanistan, or Iraq. In President Bush’s first three years… (CATO):

…real non-defence (sic) discretionary outlays will rise 18.0% in his first three years in office (FY2002-FY2004). That growth far exceeds the first three years of any recent presidential term, including Ronald Reagan’s first term (-13.5%), Reagan’s second term (-3.2%), George H. Bush’s term (11.6%), Bill Clinton’s first term (-0.7%), and Clinton’s second term (8.2%).

Keep in mind, this was just with the proposed FY2004 budget. The actual budget was worse.

It was in FY2004 (late fall of 2003, to be exact) that the President pushed Medicare Part D through Congress – a major expansion of the entitlement program that came as the warnings about Medicare’s sustainability even without Part D were growing.

Two years later, Bush added deliberate market intervention into the mix with an Energy Bill that vastly increased subsidies, tariffs, and regulations to favor corn-based ethanol – a policy that so badly skewed the corn market that it caused grain shortages throughout the world during his second term in office.

How bad did the spending binge get? Look at it this way: between FY2001 (Clinton’s last budget) and FY2007, federal revenue rose over 25% – yet we still fell from a surplus of over $100 billion to a deficit of over $150 billion, because spending rose by more than 40%.

The final year of the Bush Administration (2008) also included TARP, but that fiasco requires a s segment in this series all its own. Even by that point, however, the Keynesian high from temporary tax cuts, reckless spending, and monetary mayhem had run its course, leaving trouble in its wake.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal


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