If Obama Is A Big-Government Socialist, What’s That Make Ronald Reagan?

I saw this interesting graphic on MSNBC (adapted from a Talking Points Memo piece), which should, but won’t, shut up all the talk about the socialist in the White’s House.

In terms of net change in government spending, Obama isn’t in the same league with either Bush or Ronaldus Magnus:

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  1. ansonburlingame

     /  March 15, 2012

    Who knows where “data” comes from on MSNBC or other “sites”. I did a casual online search and found the following at http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/recent_spending. Here are the quotes. Go to the web site to see the actual graphs:

    “Federal spending stood at 22.4 percent of GDP in 1985.”

    . “By the year 2000 federal spending had decreased to 18.1”

    “In the 2000s federal spending increased to 19.5 percent of GDP by 2007”

    “In 2009 federal spending peaked at 23.8 percent of GDP”

    All of the above quotes are from the above web site. For 2011 our spending was listed at $3.6 Trillion with a GDP of $15.0 Trillion leaving a debt to GDP ratio of 24%

    Then of course one could look at just the “numbers” spent each year, like $1.5 Trillion in a Reagan year and about $4.0 Trillion now under Obama. Also interesting to see in above quotes that spending as percent of GDP went up by about 1.4% for the duration of the Bush term, that is SPENDING (so “unfunded” wars count therein) yet such spending went up by about 4.5% under three years with Obama in charge.

    Want a little more? Federal spending during the Bush years was “about” in the range of $2.5 Trillion per year. Federal spending during the Obama years has been in the range of “about” $3.5 Trillion.

    My only point is anyone can make all sorts of graphs to support their particular “points”. For me I stick with “we spend to much money” and must stop doing so. Simple as that.

    I tried to post this comment a few minutes ago and it did not “go up” as my comments usually do. Trying again, and of course keeping a copy of this comment “just for the record”.



  2. ansonburlingame

     /  March 15, 2012

    OK, the comment is now up and could have well been a keyboard error on my part.



  3. Duane do you know if these rates of change are include transfer payments as well as actual purchases of goods and services by the Federal Government?


    • Bruce,

      Although the article doesn’t specify, I always assume transfer payments are included in a discussion about “government spending” (usually the author will specify otherwise), and in any case Paul Krugman’s series of blog posts recently noted the difference, which isn’t that substantial (a surprising fact, given the Great Recession).

      Here is a graph he posted without safety net payments:

      And here is one with the transfer payments included:

      Krugman notes that the comparison is “slightly weaker than the purchases-only comparison,” but he attributes that to unemployment benefits falling faster under Reagan (naturally, given the calamity of 2008).



  4. Dakota

     /  September 5, 2012

    I grew up during the Reagan administration, and actually voted for the first time, for his second term. Of course Reagan was BIG GOVERNMENT!! It was a huge event when ever he’d speak to Congress or to The Nation. Reagan screwed up with trickle down economics. It didn’t work, and yet there are those that can’t handle that truth!


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