The Case for Dubya

Nathan Newman nathan.newman at
Mon Jan 31 14:14:18 PST 2000

>On Behalf Of Max Sawicky
> Sent: Monday, January 31, 2000 12:49 PM

> Presidential Terms and Federal Spending, 1980-1999
> 1976 1980 1988 1992 1999
> Entitlements & Other Mandatory 10.9 10.7 10.1 11.5 10.7
> Domestic Discretionary 4.5 4.7 3.1 3.4 3.1
> Defense & International 5.6 5.4 6.1 5.2 3.2
> Net Interest 1.5 1.9 3.0 3.2 2.5
> By these numbers our most liberal president since
> 1976 has been . . . George H.W. Bush, with the
> assistance of a Democratic Congress.
> It may be noted, Nathan, that the interest savings
> under Clinton were not accompanied w/spending growth,
> but the contrary.

One question, then some quick comment/questions-- first, does the domestic discretionary include the Earned Income Tax Credit, since that is Clinton's largest social spending program increase.

Second, if the numbers are listed in terms of inflation-adjusted growth, rather than percentage of GNP, what do the numbers look like?

Third, what do these numbers look like if state spending is combined with federal funds, since the federal government does do a lot of legislation that creates incentives for such spending -- the recent CHIPS child health care plan being an obvious example. As well, it can be argued that fiscal restraint at the federal level opens up political space for spending at the state level -- not my favorite way to raise and spend money because of more regressive taxes, but if we are looking only at the spending side, it's worth seeing the numbers. (Actually, how are block grants to states figured in the above? As discretionary spending or something else?)

Fourth, it is worth noting the cyclical issues in these numbers, since 1992 was the bottoming out of a recession when automatic discretionary money is at its highest - notably unemployment insurance -- so don't overcredit Bush for presiding over a recession. Obviously, given the evil 1996 welfare law, economic expansion does not excuse some of the decrease in discretionary spending for Clinton, but it does explain some in a non-conservative way.

I wish there was a simple measure showing how much money is transferred from wealthy taxpayers to poorer citizens, since these raw numbers say little, since some of the discretionary money is corporate welfare. Any of the DC think tanks working on such a measure?

-- Nathan Newman

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