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Sunday, February 08, 2004

Meet the Numbers

This is copied ver batim from Joshua Claybourn's site. The article concerns statements made by the Prez today on "Meet the Press" about spending. Our wonderfully conservative administration... Anyway Mr. Claybourn makes some wonderful points that I don't believe I could articulate better, so I borrow his words. Please check out his site here


Meet the Numbers

In a much-hyped television appearance on Meet the Press, President Bush discussed everything from the Iraq war to the looming 2004 election battle. Here's a subject that I thought stood out (surprise!):

If you look at the appropriations bills that were passed under my watch, in the last year of President Clinton, discretionary spending was up 15 percent, and ours have steadily declined.
This is deceptive and false. Discretionary spending has not declined, and most definitely not "steadily" declined. Discretionary spending has increased by 15% during Bush's first two years in office, more than it did during Clinton's first four years. Total outlays fell under Mr. Clinton, from 22.2 percent of the GDP to 18.4 percent of the GDP in 2000. By 2002, the budget consumed 19.5 percent of the GDP. Here're the numbers presented graphically.

So not only has spending increased in a sheer dollar amount, but the rate of increase and the percentage of the GDP has increased as well. But then comes the standard excuse for all this spending, which one should get used to hearing from partisans, if you haven't gotten used to it already.

And the other thing that I think it's important for people who watch the expenditures side of the equation is to understand we are at war, Tim, and any time you commit your troops into harm's way, they must have the best equipment, the best training, and the best possible pay. That's where we owe it to their loved ones.
So is Bush suggesting that all of this spending is due to necessary military expenditures? If so, that's another false statement. Spending for education, job training, unemployment assistance, Medicare, Social Security, veterans benefits, food stamps and other "human resources" has risen from 11.5 percent of GDP to 12.7 percent. Indeed, most of the largest increases having nothing to do with national security. Here's another graphic.

Data is from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the Treasury Department, and the White House Office of Management and Budget. Graphs, which use those numbers, are provided by the Cato institute.

Update: These numbers account for inflation according to the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Update 2: I had this excuse sent to me just recently:

What the President meant to say that President Clinton's last budget *grew* (key word, that) discretionary spending at 15%. Bush's first budget *grew* discretionary spending at 6%. His proposed budget this year *grows* discretionary spending at .55%.
Perhaps he "meant" to say that, but then what he meant to say is still not true. Clinton's last budget increased discretionary spending by 4.56%. Bush's first budget increased discretionary spending by 7.06%. His second budget increased discretionary spending by 10.1%. So Bush has actually steadily increased discretionary spending since Clinton.

Besides, all of this ignores the very important point that just because Clinton spent at a certain rate, it does not mean that Bush can justly do the same, especially when Bush is actually doing worse.

Thanks for the good work Josh, keep it up.

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