Politics does not operate in a vacuum. With only two major parties, what one does is a signal to the other about what they can get away with. The runaway spending of the Republicans enabled and encouraged the Democrats to new highs (or lows, rather) of spending increases once they came into power.
Sure, the Democratic spending is worse. Even dangerous. But that doesn't mean the Republicans are good. In fact, they were terrible as well. If you think the Republicans have learned anything, the same people are still in charge of the Republican party. They are saying what they think you want to hear, but once in power, they will be back to their same tricks.
Cato @ Liberty: George W. Bush: Biggest Spender Since LBJ
The Congressional Budget Office has released final budget numbers for fiscal year 2009. The numbers allow us to take a last look at the Bush administration’s record on spending from a statistical point of view.
The following three charts show annual average real (or constant dollar) outlays during the tenures of recent presidents. Presidents were in office for either 4 or 8 budget years, except JFK (3 years), LBJ (5 years), Nixon (6 years), and Ford (2 years).
President George W. Bush’s last year was fiscal 2009. Outlays that year were $3.522 trillion, according to the CBO. However, $108 billion was spending for the 2009 economic stimulus package passed under President Obama. Bush was thus roughly responsible for $3.414 trillion of spending in 2009, which includes outlays for the financial bailouts enacted under his watch. (For FY2009, $154 billion for TARP and $91 billion for Fannie and Freddie).
Of course, presidents share spending power with Congress and it is easier for presidents to control discretionary spending than entitlement spending. Nonetheless, the results in these charts reflect the general spending approach taken by the presidents quite well. For example, Bush II was instrumental in adding the Medicare drug benefit, which by 2009 was adding more than $60 billion a year to federal spending.
Mercatus Center: Spending Under President George W. Bush
Graph above is from Cato @ Liberty.
During his eight years in office, President Bush oversaw a large increase in government spending. In fact, President Bush increased government spending more than any of the six presidents preceding him, including LBJ. In his last term in office, President Bush increased discretionary outlays by an estimated 48.6 percent.
During his eight years in office, President Bush spent almost twice as much as his predecessor, President Clinton. Adjusted for inflation, in eight years, President Clinton increased the federal budget by 11 percent. In eight years, President Bush increased it by a whopping 104 percent.