George Bush Big Government Spender

George W. Bush, despite all his recent bravado about being an apostle of small government and budget-slashing, is “a big government guy,” said Stephen Slivinski, the director of budget studies at Cato Institute, a libertarian research group.

Take almost any yardstick and Bush generally exceeds the spending of his predecessors.

When adjusted for inflation, discretionary spending — or budget items that Congress and the president can control, including defense and domestic programs — shot up at an average annual rate of 5.3 percent during Bush’s first six years, Slivinski calculates, topping the 1.9 percent of Ronald Reagan.

Discretionary spending went up in Bush's first term by 48.5 percent, not adjusted for inflation, more than twice as much as Bill Clinton did (21.6 percent) in two full terms, Slivinski reports.

Defense spending: Under Bush it's grown on average by 5.7 percent a year. Under LBJ — who had a war to fund, too — it rose by 4.9 percent a year. Both numbers are adjusted for inflation.

Including costs for fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, defense spending under Bush has gone up 86 percent since 2001, according to Chris Hellman of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. Current annual defense spending — not counting war costs — is 25 percent above the height of the Reagan-era buildup, Hellman said.

[McClatchy Newspapers]

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