Did Ronald Reagan explode federal spending?
On the Arkansas Times Blog on July 21, 2011, the link by Arkansas Media Watch to an article that was critical of Ronald Wilson Reagan (who by the way I named my son Wilson after).
In the article “Arkansas Democrat Gazette editors make fun of Ronald Reagan” by arkansasmediawatch on July 21, 2011 you will read:
Today’s Arkansas Democrat Gazette editorial is a lighthearted satire on Reagan deficit spending. It opens with the following quote from Saint Reagan himself:
“Governments don’t reduce deficits by raising taxes on the people; governments reduce deficits by controlling spending and stimulating new wealth.”
Excellent joke – I never thought Paul Greenberg had a sense of humor. Reagan of course never balanced a budget, on the contrary he was responsible for record deficits as high as 6% of GDP, almost tripling the national debt. Neither did he control spending – he presided over a 69% increase in federal spending, much of which went to the military.
The truth is very different. After adjusting for inflation, federal spending grew less than 1% a year during the 8 years Reagan was in office. Take a look at the video clip below:
Take a look at this article below. To Fix the Budget, Bring Back Reagan…or Even Clinton
Posted by Daniel J. Mitchell
President Obama unveiled his fiscal year 2012 budget today, and there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that there’s no major initiative such as the so-called stimulus scheme or the government-run healthcare proposal. The bad news, though, is that government is far too big and Obama’s budget does nothing to address this problem.
But perhaps the folks on Capitol Hill will be more responsible and actually try to save America from becoming a big-government, European-style welfare state. The solution may not be easy, but it is simple. Lawmakers merely need to restrain the growth of government spending so that it grows slower than the private economy.
Actual spending cuts would be the best option, of course, but limiting the growth of spending is all that’s needed to slowly shrink the burden of government spending relative to gross domestic product.
Fortunately, we have two role models from recent history that show it is possible to control the federal budget. This video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity uses data from the Historical Tables of the Budget to demonstrate the fiscal policy achievements of both Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.
Some people will want to argue about who gets credit for the good fiscal policy of the 1980s and 1990s.
Bill Clinton’s performance, for instance, may not have been so impressive if he had succeeded in pushing through his version of government-run healthcare or if he didn’t have to deal with a Republican Congress after the 1994 elections. But that’s a debate for partisans. All that matters is that the burden of government spending fell during Bill Clinton’s reign, and that was good for the budget and good for the economy. And there’s no question he did a much better job than George W. Bush.
Indeed, a major theme in this new video is that the past 10 years have been a fiscal disaster. Both Bush and Obama have dramatically boosted the burden of government spending — largely because of rapid increases in domestic spending.
This is one of the reasons why the economy is weak. For further information, this video looks at the theoretical case for small government and this video examines the empirical evidence against big government.
Another problem is that many people in Washington are fixated on deficits and debt, but that’s akin to focusing on symptoms and ignoring the underlying disease. To elaborate, this video explains that America’s fiscal problem is too much spending rather than too much debt.
Last but not least, this video reviews the theory and evidence for the “Rahn Curve,” which is the notion that there is a growth-maximizing level of government outlays. The bad news is that government already is far too big in the United States. This is undermining prosperity and reducing competitiveness.