Read it and Retch: George W. Bush's Complete Spending Record

The Mercatus Center yesterday published in one place what Reason readers have been digesting monthly since Mercatus Senior Research Fellow Veronique de Rugy became a regular columnist for the magazine: George W. Bush's awful, awful record on spending. Unluckily for the rest of us, Barack Obama is no Bill Clinton.



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  • ||

    Matt,

    I will make the same point that is made everytime someone talks about a President's spending record. Congress writes the damn budgets. Yeah, Bush could have vetoed them all and deserves blame for not doing it. But it seems pretty damn disengenious to call them "Bush's spending" when Congress wrote the bills and people like Murtha, Cunninghan, Stevens and company from both parties were taking bribes in exchange for earmarks.

  • Reinmoose||

    That damn free market fundamentalist, GWB! All his laissez-faire policies have gotten us into this mess!

    Oh wait - not the thread for that?

  • Matt Welch||

    John,

    Point both taken and not. When a president's party has control of Congress, as Bush's did for a good long stretch (and as Clinton did for those first two years), it is more than appropriate for holding him ultimately responsible. There's a rich field of possibility between "Yeah, Bush could have vetoed them all," and "Yeah, Bush could have maybe used the veto even once during his first term."

  • ||

    Uh, John, wasn't Georgie pushing for the war, Medicare Part D, etc?

  • TofuSushi w/O\'ganicWasabi||

    Matt,

    John has the right point. The congress passes the relevant budget and the executive is truly powerless to spend any differently than what the congress passed.

    We are post 1974, not before.

  • ||

    What would happen if a president just decided to pretend he had the line item veto, cross out what he didn't like, and then sign a budget? Would the budget be legally passed into law anyway, or would Congress be forced to pass a budget that matched what the president signed, or what?

  • ||

    "There's a rich field of possibility between "Yeah, Bush could have vetoed them all," and "Yeah, Bush could have maybe used the veto even once during his first term."

    True. I think Bush made a bargain with Congress whereby he got the war powers he wanted and they got the pork they wanted. If you object to Bush's wars, you can legitimately say that Bush traded his soul on fiscal responsibility just to wage war. That is a fair cop I think. But I think you can also say that Bush was trying to wage a war he felt necessary and the only way he could do it was feed the porkers in Congress.

    I don't see how Congress doesn't come off looking worse. Rightly or wrongly, Bush was at least trying to do the right thing and defend the country. Congress in contrast didn't give a shit about country and were only interested in getting themselves and their buddies rich. After the initial political uproar over 9-11, Congress would have never defended the country if doing so meant giving up their pork.

  • ||

    "What would happen if a president just decided to pretend he had the line item veto, cross out what he didn't like, and then sign a budget? Would the budget be legally passed into law anyway, or would Congress be forced to pass a budget that matched what the president signed, or what?"

    It is called an impoundment. They were outlawed by the 1974 budget act. I have often thought that a President could tell congress to fuck off and then proceed to kill off line items he didn't like. What is Congress going to do about it? Sue? Even if they did big deal, the President just says too bad I am not spending the money. The only resort left to Congress at that point would be to impeach him. It would take some pretty big balls for Congress to impeach a President for not giving them their pork. I think if the President did it right, the Congress would scream like the stuck pigs they are but back off.

  • TofuSushi w/O\'ganicWasabi||

    What would happen if a president just decided to pretend he had the line item veto, cross out what he didn't like, and then sign a budget?

    His edits do not count. If he signs, he signs it, not a little of it.

    Would the budget be legally passed into law anyway, or would Congress be forced to pass a budget that matched what the president signed, or what?

    Probably and all of the fiscal officers in the executive branch are bound to spend as directed by the appropriations passed by the congress. The president cannot prevent them from failing to spend (impoundment) or spending differently (anti-defeciency/miasppropriation).

  • ||

    "Rightly or wrongly, Bush was at least trying to do the right thing and defend the country. Congress in contrast didn't give a shit about country "...

    John did you eat a retarded sandwich for breakfast?

  • TofuSushi w/O\'ganicWasabi||

    Sorry, my "probably" at 11:02am was that the budget is legally passed into law as soon as the president signs.

  • Reinmoose||

    John -
    It's not just pork. It's entitlements and committments

  • O\'Taktix®||

    I will make the same point that is made everytime someone talks about a President's spending record. Congress writes the damn budgets. Yeah, Bush could have vetoed them all and deserves blame for not doing it. But it seems pretty damn disengenious to call them "Bush's spending" when Congress wrote the bills and people like Murtha, Cunninghan, Stevens and company from both parties were taking bribes in exchange for earmarks.

    Uhh, Congress was under control of the GOP, Mr. Bush's party, for six of his eight years in office.

    Since Bush was "the decider" and also the practical leader of his party, he is not without a good deal of blame.

    And don't give that "the Dems fillibustered" crap, because they only did a Gentleman's Fillibuster. If the GOP wanted to stop the spending, they could have.

    But they didn't, and neither did Bush...

  • ||

    Uh, John, wasn't Georgie pushing for the war, Medicare Part D, etc?



    Yes. Though he did veto the second farm bill, which then passed over his veto. That's one of the few ones he probably doesn't deserve blame for.

    He also resisted the FY2009 budget increases, which then passed once Obama took office.

    Both of which imply that divided government is good. Of course, Reason contributors mostly didn't like that argument back in November 2008.

  • ||

    "Uhh, Congress was under control of the GOP, Mr. Bush's party, for six of his eight years in office."

    So what. I didn't say the Republicans were not soley responsible. It Congress Republican and Democrat alike who are responsible. Actually judging from your posts on the other thread, I am surprised you don't think the Pope was responsible.

  • ||

    "John did you eat a retarded sandwich for breakfast?"

    Project much Gabe? I guess I didn't get the memo about Bush invading Afghanistan to get his Haliburton stocks up.

  • TofuSushi w/O\'ganicWasabi||

    O'Taktix,

    Yes, it was the president's party, but even I would not project that the Bush/Cheney evil death squads were standing guard in the gallery ready to shoot any R about to vote nay.

  • O\'Taktix®||

    Yes, it was the president's party, but even I would not project that the Bush/Cheney evil death squads were standing guard in the gallery ready to shoot any R about to vote nay.

    No, they just didn't assist them during campaigns. It's a well known fact that if Congressional Republicans didn't tow the Bush line, they were denied campaign funds from the national committee.

    But you guys are right. Bush was just whistling along innocently while Congress spent like drunken Irishmen.

    I must be taking fucking crazy pills or something...

  • TofuSushi w/O\'ganicWasabi||

    I must be taking fucking crazy pills or something...

    Great sex is great sex, no matter what rituals you need for it.

  • ||

    George W. Bush's awful, awful record on spending. Unluckily for the rest of us, Barack Obama is no Bill Clinton.



    But it's not like a record on spending is the most important thing, right? It's not like opposing Medicare Part D, both farm bills, both energy bills, etc. is actually something that would lead to a presidential endorsement, right?

  • TofuSushi w/O\'ganicWasabi||

    Wasn't Bush for open borders but the Congress made him build a wall instead?

  • ||

    John, the president sends Congress a budget, they add from there. As long as Bush got what he wanted in his original budget, and he did, he cared nil what Congress added, knowing they were all GOP projects, and knowing the next bill he sent them would be accepted as well as long as he allowed their pork. GWB and his GOP friends in Congress were all to blame, but he is more to blame. He had greater power than they did because they accepted him as fuhrer, I mean leader of their party.

  • Joshua Holmes||

    True. I think Bush made a bargain with Congress whereby he got the war powers he wanted and they got the pork they wanted.

    Right, because Bush really had to twist some arms to get the GOP Congress to hand him the war powers. Republican after Republican sang hosannas to Bush as loudly and longly as they could until his spectacular fuck-ups were too obvious to ignore.

    Furthermore, not only did he not use the veto pen or the bully pulpit to combat spending, he actively pushed for bigger, more intrusive, more expensive government on front after front. The only time he bothered to show a modicum of fiscal restraint was when the Democrats took Congress.

    So yeah, this spending belongs in Bush's lap, and none of your lapdog bullshit is going to fly.

  • TofuSushi w/O\'ganicWasabi||

    John, the president sends Congress a budget, they add from there.

    Completly incorrect.

    The president sends the congress a budget request and the congress does what it wants. The congress has no obligation to accept anything in the president's 'budget'.

    Does it sometimes happen the way you said? Yes. But you sound like you are under the impression that the congress must include the PB and they do not.

  • TofuSushi w/O\'ganicWasabi||

    Wasn't all of that Homeland Security stuff a Democrat idea that the president and the Republicans accepted?

  • O\'Taktix®||

    But you sound like you are under the impression that the congress must include the PB and they do not.

    I hope they include the PB! A jelly-only sandwich would be Un-American...

  • shecky||

    John, as usual, you're full of shit.

  • TofuSushi w/O\'ganicWasabi||

    shecky,

    Looks like wo people and only two on this whole thread know anything about fiscal law. John is one of them.

  • ||

    John,
    The GOP thought they could spend themselves into a permanernt majority. The leader of the party, GWB did absolutely nothing to reign them in. With Medicare expansion, the completely unjustifiable War in Iraq, TARP, etc. he contributed to the fucking budget explosion far more than you seem to be willing to admit. Sins of omission are still sins and shall be judged as such.

  • ||

    What's done is done. Now, what lies ahead for "We the People"? Depression (of the financial kind)? Hyper-inflation ? Somehow, sometime, the time to pay up is getting closer and sooner. Default on the bonds? Revolution? Man does not live by deficits alone.

  • ||

    TofuSpoofie, I know the law, I also know reality. The reality is, when Bush was president, his budget request was granted and Congress added their pork. I don't recall them ever striking anything from his budget request, but on that point I could be mistaken.

    There were other bills he pushed for they disagreed with (immigration for one) but on the budget, he got his big spending way pretty damn easy.

  • ||

    oldtimer, are you thinking we would we get a revolution of some form if hyper-inflation occurs? People will rightly blame the government if that happens, but our ability to buy necessities will become increasingly difficult.

  • ||

    Thanks for the answers.

    The next question I have is: is deflation inevitable, and can someone make a good case for it?

  • TofuSushi w/O\'ganicWasabi||

    "TofuSpoofie, I know the law, I also know reality."

    Then, perhaps, you should have written something that indicated you actually knew the law rather than this propoganda: "John, the president sends Congress a budget, they add from there."

    Something along the lines of "When Bush sent his budgets to the congress they accepted every line and word without question and added their own spending to it."

    But, no, you did not. You wrote something that was true before 1974 and false after 1974, just like so many folks who have no clue how this actually works.

  • ||

    I still think Bernanke's elegant explanation makes perfect sense. IF the government really wants to stop deflation and they are willing to engage in unconventional policies that would have the same effect as using a printing press and helicopters.

    Now I do NOT have 100% trust that the government would in fact try to do this nor do I have much idea of WHEN they would do this. They may wait until the pyramid of debt defaults gets pretty darn bad while applying patchwork "stimulus/bailout" bills to prop up all of their favored groups..thus essentially having the working taxpayers fund the enslavement of ourselves.

  • ||

    Since Bernanke's analysis of how to stop deflation still rings true. I conclude that it is only a matter of political choice as to when/if a reflation starts.

    like Congressman Lindbergh said before his grandkid got stolen:


    "To cause high prices, all the Federal Reserve Board will do will be to lower the rediscount rate..., producing an expansion of credit and a rising stock market; then when ... business men are adjusted to these conditions, it can check ... prosperity in mid career by arbitrarily raising the rate of interest. It can cause the pendulum of a rising and falling market to swing gently back and forth by slight changes in the discount rate, or cause violent fluctuations by a greater rate variation and in either case it will possess inside information as to financial conditions and advance knowledge of the coming change, either up or down. This is the strangest, most dangerous advantage ever placed in the hands of a special privilege class by any Government that ever existed. The system is private, conducted for the sole purpose of obtaining the greatest possible profits from the use of other people's money. They know in advance when to create panics to their advantage, They also know when to stop panic. Inflation and deflation work equally well for them when they control finance."

  • ||

    The reality is, when Bush was president, his budget request was granted and Congress added their pork. I don't recall them ever striking anything from his budget request, but on that point I could be mistaken.

    There were other bills he pushed for they disagreed with (immigration for one) but on the budget, he got his big spending way pretty damn easy.



    He got his spending, yes. Though he didn't get any of his spending restraints. For example, every one of Bush's budgets contained limits on ag subsidies for farmers with large incomes; Congress laughed and ignored each one. Ditto with the Medicare payments reform.

    President Obama has continued the Presidential tradition of submitting exactly the same provisions, to be laughed off by Congress in exactly the same way.

  • ||

    John,

    If he really opposed the spending he could have vetoed it and then held a big press conference explaining the attempted fleecing of the public. It would have been very popular. He never did this...but he did hold press conferences to call us terrorist for disagreeing about foreign policy and blowback.

  • ||

    Nick,

    I'm as ignorant as everyone else but I can guess that something must happen. My guess is that a military coup will happen, because we will still be looking for someone, somehow to stop the panic, riots, and complete breakdown of what we think civilization should be. The failure of the government will be recognized and the country will be divided by old v. young, urban v. rural, ad infinitum. I'm not wishing for my 1:02 post but the breakdown is inevitable. History.....

  • TofuSushi w/O\'ganicWasabi||

    Gabe,

    If he really opposed the spending he could have vetoed it and then held a big press conference explaining the attempted fleecing of the public.

    And the congress has the last word on that too. THE CONGRESS ALWAYS HAS THE LAST WORD ON ANYTHING BUDGET. Sorry, but this is true and I don't like typing so loudly.

    The congress either accepts or rejects the president's veto. If they reject (override) the veto then the budget passes.

  • TofuSushi w/O\'ganicWasabi||

    JT,

    He got his spending, yes. Though he didn't get any of his spending restraints. For example, every one of Bush's budgets contained limits on ag subsidies for farmers with large incomes; Congress laughed and ignored each one. Ditto with the Medicare payments reform.

    [snark at others]
    Gosh! No! What??? The Congress did not take a president's budget word for word and just add things to it?

    You must not know what you are talking about! You must be a kool-aid drinker!
    [/snark at others]

  • ||

    Folks,
    Politicians "support" things kind of things thru the most faceless part of government they can. Namely, Congress. If Bush really had not wanted these things, he could have put up a fight, he didn't and he was the president; therefore, he is to blame.

  • ||

    TofuSushi,
    Your being intentionally obtuse...he had enough leadership capabilities and vote support to prevent a override. He could have vetoed away and shtu the government down until they reduced the budget. However it was not really important to Bush. From all the evidence available, Bush likes bigger government, just like his dad did.

  • Bonewah||

    "Mercatus Senior Research Fellow Veronique de Rugy"

    I dont believe anyone who thinks Greenland is that large.

  • Howie||

    If you object to Bush's wars, you can legitimately say that Bush traded his soul on fiscal responsibility just to wage war. That is a fair cop I think.



    Alternately, if you object to Bush's wars and remember that the Texas budget went up 40% during his watch, you can legitimately say that Bush never had a fiscally responsible bone in his body and also waged war. That is an even fairer cop, I think.

  • ||

    Howie,
    You are totally clueles about civics. It isn't Bushes fault that Texas spending increased by 40%, it is the fault of all of lumberjacks who went and cut down trees and sent them to the paper mill...without the paper mill sending this paper to Bush he could not have signed a single item while he was Governor.

  • Fluffy||

    Quibbling about "spending restraints" not being granted is pointless, because it catches us up in irrelevancies.

    If Congress had passed every one of Bush's budgets EXACTLY AS HE SUBMITTED THEM, Bush's spending record would have been atrocious and a disgusting farce.

    So, please, spare me the nonsensical "Wah, Congress added pork" line. Reagan asked for spending cuts, didn't get them, and then signed budgets that were vastly different from his original submissions - so with Reagan you could justifiably blame Congress. Bush asked for gigantic spending increases [often in a deceptive way, by keeping vast amounts of spending off the budget and therefore making published deficit estimates into lies] and always got budgets passed that reflected those spending increases, along with additional pet project spending added on the margins.

  • ||

    TofuSushi, I know the law as you do. I was not saying a president sends a budget that must be followed to a T and then stuff is added by Congress, I was saying the president sent his budget (and none of it was taken out because no one in Congress cared to cut spending either) and then stuff was added which W gladly signed. I know Congress has the power, but the essentially ceded it to W just like theu ceded all their other powers to him. How many budget items did the Dems cut from Obama's New Era of Responsibility budget before adding their own items to it? I'm not aware of any. I'm saying what the reality is, not what each branch is legally allowed to do. Geez, what crawled up your butt today?

  • ||

    If Congress had passed every one of Bush's budgets EXACTLY AS HE SUBMITTED THEM, Bush's spending record would have been atrocious and a disgusting farce.



    True, but they would have been somewhat better. Bush's refusal to veto even the most ridiculous Republican Congress bill certainly didn't help, that's for sure. I don't think I'm letting him off the hook for saying that.

    I'm mostly amused at people (elsewhere) who actually praised President Obama for including the same provisions as Bush that will be ignored all the same. And of course Obama isn't going to veto anything that this Congress comes up with either.

  • Gene Berkman||

    I thought by now even the partisan GOP hacks would not defend Bush. Guess I was wrong.

    Anyone who paid attention during the last 8 years saw Bush push through numerous big government programs, including the Iraq War. What they did not see was Republican opposition to Bush's betrayal of limited government conservatism. It is hard to believe that such an observation would be controversial.

  • ||

    Gene,
    They are like beaten housewives and Joebamamaniacs who will make excuses for their abuser forever. If they imprison/draft or tax their children to death then the abused will still thank the husband and beg to fellate him.

    Classic cult psychology. They really do have intense love for their built up imaginary father symbol. He may do some bad things but only out of love or to protect them.

    when does sunny in philly start again?

  • ||

    Or maybe it is just that we don't have the in depth legal understanding of these civic minded savants. If we only had a deeper understanding of the law we would realize Bush had to sign those bills and Obama had to backtrack on Turkish genocide.

  • Tim||

    "Bush was doing the right thing and others were just trying to get them and their buddies rich."

    Sounds just like the arguments from the Dems for their spending. Same line and same bullshit.

  • ||

    And of course the federal budget is largely a side issue at this point, since the private banking cartel known as the Federal Reserve has committed the American people to spend $8.5 trillion (or is it $9.7 trillion?) in support of the banking industry bailouts, on the way to something like $50 trillion. All in secret, without oversight or permission of our elected representatives.

    Wrangling over the official government budget is useful as a distraction for the masses....bread and circuses, you know.

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