Economics

Can We Trust the GOP?

The Republicans have retaken the House, but that doesn't mean you should expect the government to get any smaller.

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After two years of absolute Democratic power, many voters hope that the Republicans will restore fiscal sanity to Washington. But a look at the GOP's track record and campaign promises should give us pause.

Historically, Republicans have often been worse spenders than Democrats. Since 1962, they controlled the White House during six of the 10 largest annual percentage increases in real discretionary outlays (see Figure 1). Discretionary spending is the part of the budget that is appropriated every year, as opposed to mandatory spending, which is on autopilot and can only be changed by altering the law behind the programs. For three of the 10 years with the biggest increases in discretionary spending, Republicans controlled Congress as well as the White House.

Figure 2 shows, in inflation-adjusted figures, how much each modern full-term president added to his predecessor's final budget (or to his own, if he was re-elected). By this measurement, Republican George W. Bush outspent everyone. His apologists claim he had no choice but to expand military spending to combat terrorism at home and abroad. But even if you accept that argument, the president also increased domestic spending by massive amounts, including a giant new prescription-drug entitlement, the No Child Left Behind education law, and subsidy-soaked farm and transportation bills. Republican representatives and senators, many of whom were re-elected in 2010, share the blame for these measures: During the first half of 2001 and the 2003–07 period, the GOP maintained full control of both the White House and Congress.

Surprisingly, the data show that military spending is the only major item that Republicans (aside from Reagan) were willing to cut. That was the case under Nixon (who presided over a 30 percent cut), George H.W. Bush (a 14.5 percent cut), and even the Republican Congress that shared power during the second half of Bill Clinton's first term (a 15.3 percent cut). Sadly, there is little chance this Congress will follow suit. In recent months, conservative think tanks have been campaigning to shield the Pentagon from budget reductions.

Republicans didn't rein in spending during the 1990s. With the exception of fiscal year 1996, the Republican revolution grew nonmilitary spending significantly each year.

Will things be different today? Not if we take Republicans at their word. The Pledge to America, released by Republican leaders before the election, supposedly represents their party's plan to create jobs and cut government spending. But the pledge takes military spending off the table, barely proposes any other savings, and makes no attempt to fundamentally reform entitlement spending, the primary driver of spending growth. The incoming speaker, John Boehner (R-Ohio), endorsed more Medicare spending during the campaign, and only a handful of House Republicans have endorsed the long-term plan for balancing the budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

This is consistent with their position on Medicare cuts during the recent debate over Obama-Care. When Democrats proposed to reduce the expanding cost of health insurance by cutting spending over the next decade, Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele reacted by denouncing the cuts as a raid on Medicare. That response became a major GOP talking point. So unless they flip-flop on that issue, the Republicans will remain the party of Medicare. 

Another way to measure the size of government is to examine the size of its work force. Figure 3 draws on data from the Current Employment Statistics Survey, conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to look at job changes by category from February 2001 (the first full month of Bush's tenure in office) to January 2009 (his last month). Bush's legacy is largely one of government hiring: More than 1.7 million employees were added to the local, state, and federal payrolls during his two terms. (It's fair to give Bush much of the blame for the increase in state and local hires, since it's largely traceable to his No Child Left Behind Act, the general increase in federal education spending, and the new category of homeland security.)

What about trade? According to Daniel Griswold, director of trade policy at the libertarian Cato Institute, "the incoming GOP House leaders, presumptive Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, and Ways and Means Committee Chair David Camp of Michigan, have all voted more than two-thirds of the time for lower trade barriers." But in his 2005 book Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy (Doubleday), the former Treasury economist Bruce Bartlett makes a convincing case that Bush and the Bush-era Republican Congress were terrible on trade, pointing to their support for farm subsidies and import barriers that benefit politically influential groups such as sugar, rice, cotton, and corn producers. 

It is even harder to claim that deregulation took place during the Bush years. Inflation-adjusted expenditures on regulatory agencies show a consistent upward movement for the last 10 years. While a popular narrative holds that the present economic crisis was preceded by a wave of financial deregulation, spending on finance and banking regulations rose by 26 percent during the Bush years.

In light of that track record, it's hard to believe that the new Congress will seriously address our financial troubles. The next two years should give it ample opportunity to prove me wrong. 

Contributing Editor Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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99 responses to “Can We Trust the GOP?

  1. “Will things be different today? Not if we take Republicans at their word. ”

    She’s practically calling for asassinations!

  2. “For the love of God will this woman ever stop farting?”

    1. Literally bored to tears.

  3. Can We Trust the GOP?
    Absolutly not!

    1. We can trust them to be consistently in favor of increasing government and their own power. So there’s that.

      1. … to be consistently in favor of increasing government and their own power.

        Ah, the creed of the professional parasite.

  4. Can We Trust the GOP?

    On spending? Is this a serious question? I’d sooner trust Don King with my bank account numbers.

    1. “Is this a serious question?”

      Actually it is a rhetorical question.

    2. I like large bills.

    3. Racist.

  5. You know who else was in favor of limited government?

    1. F. Hayek?

  6. The Thing That Cannot Cry and The Thing That Won’t Stop.

    1. Boehner’s only crying because Pelosi has balls and he doesn’t.

      1. he’s weeping because she made fun of the size of his gavel

    2. When Pelosi cries, her tears are blood. And we know what that makes her.

        1. Your mom was my prom date. And she bled from her anus, not her eyes.

          1. Well, that would explain some of her issues. Not all, by a long shot, but some.

            1. It’s strange how your sister has the same issues, and the same bleeding.

              “And the Pope said quote ‘A chick bleeding out her vagina is no miracle. Chicks bleed out their vaginas all the time.'”

              1. So how’d I stop drinking, then? Huh?

  7. Meanwhile old friend joe seems to have done something that set off Thoreau?
    http://highclearing.com/index……1/10/12347

    1. If Dr. T drives joe back here, I’m going to write a strongly worded letter to him. Strongly. Worded.

    2. It’s amazing how joe will viciously attack the people that tolerate him the most or are the most polite to him. It’s almost like he has a personality disorder of his own. I hope he doesn’t shoot anyone!

  8. Is this article for real? Can we trust the DNC with their Marxism and Progressivism? Can we trust them with their labor unions, ACORN, environmental nut jobs, greedy lawyers, gun control advocates, anti-tobacco freaks, former terrorists (Bill Ayres), race baiters, and all their nutjobs? Republicans may not be perfect, but I don’t remember Bush apologizing for America’s mistakes, bowing like a bitch in front of Saudi Kings, and spending more in in 2 years than Bush spent in 8. Hey, Republicans may not be perfect, but at least there’s no Obamacare with them.
    http://www.libertarians4freedom.blogspot.com/

    1. I remember Bush kissing Saudi kings. Kind of like a bitch, actually.

      1. Well, everybody is a bitch of the Saudis…

      2. In the arab world men kiss men on the cheek, they also hold hands. Those are the actions of equals. Bowing down to a foreign King is the action of an inferior? Get it?
        Anyway, here’s my latest article.
        http://libertarians4freedom.bl…..blood.html

      3. Holding hands too.

    2. Isn’t it impossible for Bush to have spent more in 2 years than Bush spent in 8?

      1. Not if the other 6 had negative spending.

    3. Wow, look, his URL says “libertarian” yet he’s a GOP shill. Never seen that before.

      1. Well, hell is freezing over. I agree with Episarch here.

        No GOPer or Dem will have the gonads to cut spending, of course. That leaves them quibbling over a 35-39% tax rate and the corresponding higher or lower debt.

        1. Most of the regulars here would actually agree with shrike. Hell must be freezing over.

      2. Maybe you should read the rest of my blog, it sounds to me like you’re a progressive shill. By the way, you think the DNC likes the right to bear arms and low taxes? I’d rather vote GOP than commie C.

    4. The Bush years were no picnic for liberals, but we survived, mostly without the need to make up volumes of unmitigated bullshit. Granted, the reality of the situation was bad enough.

      In all likelihood you have at least another 6 years with a Democratic president. It would serve you well to grow up and stop absorbing every half-witted lie some doughy partisan shill spoonfeeds you, if only for the sake of your blood pressure.

      1. As an addicted gambler I looked at the Intrade bids today for 2012 winner.

        Obama $57
        Romney $8
        Thune $5
        Huck $4
        Gingrich and Pawlenty $2
        Palin $.01

        I may put a few bucks on Thune as a dark horse.

        1. C’mon, Ron Paul should be worth about $12 on this scale.

      2. In all likelihood you have at least another 6 years with a Democratic president. It would serve you well to grow up and stop absorbing every half-witted lie some doughy partisan shill spoonfeeds you, if only for the sake of your blood pressure.

        Which lie, specifically?

        1. Rush (King of the Rednecks) many thousands of documented lies?

          The idiot blames Barney Frank (one of 435 House members) for the mortgage crisis.

          He spouts lies like no one else before him.

          1. Rush (King of the Rednecks) many thousands of documented lies?

            Reference one.

            The idiot blames Barney Frank (one of 435 House members) for the mortgage crisis.

            Blaming someone isn’t lying if you really think they’re at fault.

            He spouts lies like no one else before him.

            Again, name one.

            1. Rush is frequently an ill-informed blowhard, but he was right about Barney Frank. When the bubble burst, Frank was the chair of the House Finance Committee, which oversees Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Roughly six months before, when the GOP was pushing to bring back regulations gotten rid of by Reagan (which happened prior to Clinton and the push for more loans to low-income households), he vehemently opposed it, saying that Freddie Mae and Freddie Mac were solid (do a search on YouTube, there’s video of the guy saying it). If anyone was in a position to know what was coming, he was, and he was vocally advocating the opposite direction.

              Of course, he’s not alone in his culpability, but he was loud and front-and-center more than anyone else. Second place goes to his counterpart in the Senate, Chris Dodd, who was smart enough to keep quiet but mostly because he was being investigated for his sweetheart mortgage deal, which many considered to be tantamount to a bribe.

              1. Bubble burst in 2007 and before then Barney had no power at all in the House – just one vote.

                The bubble blew up 2002-06 without him. He had nothing to do with the housing bubble.

    5. Republicans may not be perfect, but I don’t remember Bush apologizing for America’s mistakes, bowing like a bitch in front of Saudi King

      Worry about things that affect your physical or financial well-being, not your petty pride.

    6. TEAM RED WOOOO!!!!

  9. I don’t remember Bush… bowing like a bitch in front of Saudi Kings…

    Then you weren’t paying attention. Every president for the last twenty years, at least, has done that.

  10. Can We Trust the GOP?

    No.

    The End

  11. I don’t remember Bush… bowing like a bitch in front of Saudi Kings…

    They pranced together holding hands
    http://www.godammit.com/wp-con…..-hands.jpg

    1. And Obama never apologized to anyone. Its a Rush (King of the Rednecks) lie.

      Actually I think Hannity traffics that lie too.

  12. After two years of absolute Democratic power, many voters hope that the Republicans will restore fiscal sanity to Washington.

    Please, stop with the inflamatory rhetoric and incitation to violence!!!

  13. Not to defend the GOP here, but it isn’t like they control the government. Even if every one of them were clones of the Jacket, they couldn’t reduce spending without the agreement of the Senate and President, which ain’t gonna happen.

    But 2000 to 2006 gives a pretty good idea of what they are likely to do, which isn’t good.

    1. They may not be able to set the agenda of the federal government, but they damn sure could block all of the big government legislation proposed by Democrats.

      1. It would also be nice to see something other than implicit (and sometimes even explicit) acceptance of the premise that government is able to solve anything through mass spending. I’m not holding my breath.

        1. I am holding mine, but then again I’ve reached the point where one becomes suicidal due to despair.

  14. If people bothered to compare Republican rhetoric with Republican actions, not only would they reject them on fiscal issues, they should reject them for being lying hypocrites.

    They originated the idea that deficits don’t matter.

    They pulled directly from their asses the notion that tax cuts pay for themselves.

    They cut taxes while the country was engaged in multitrillion-dollar wars.

    They kept the accounting for those wars off the books.

    They believe Jesus rode on a dinosaur.

    Trust them? Why would such a silly proposal even be entertained?

    1. They pulled directly from their asses the notion that tax cuts pay for themselves.

      While it is true that JFK was an ass, he can’t really be considered the GOP’s ass. Didn’t he cut spending and increase revenue?

      Also, even someone with as little ability to think as yourself should be able to understand the Laffer curve. At some point, even someone as imbecilic as you are should be able to recognize that different tax rates cause people to act differently.

      At what point tax cuts cease to increase revenue is a valid one. Of course, you didn’t make that point.

      1. Kennedy cut top rates from 91% to 70%. Bush did it from historically low 39.6% to 35%. There may well have been Laffer effects in the Kennedy case; the rates were exorbitant. But Kennedy’s revenue increase came from more enforcement and closing loopholes, things the Republicans want to dial back. Strong GDP growth (correlation with tax cuts, but not necessarily causation) probably helped too.

        This conveniently mashed together set of events does not in any way imply that any tax cut ever will cause an increase in government revenue; the proposition is absurd on its face.

        But what do I know, I’m an imbecile.

        1. But what do I know, I’m an imbecile.

          Probably the most honest post you have ever made.

        2. This conveniently mashed together set of events does not in any way imply that any tax cut ever will cause an increase in government revenue; the proposition is absurd on its face.

          But Laffer didn’t claim that any tax cut would increase revenue, did he? Of course not. So you are ignoring what he actually said and making shit up, again. Big surprise there.

          1. Okay so why even bring Laffer up… rates are nowhere near where they’d need to be for disincentivizing effects to occur.

  15. Outright lies, half-truths, innuendo, and irrelevancies?
    Why, yes, that would be tony.

  16. Nowhere in this article does it acknowledge that spending could increase without proportionately increasing the deficit, IF tax revenues were increased by DECREASING tax rates. That happened with Reagan and Bush. (farther back it also happened with Cal and JFK)

    It also doesn’t take into account what party controlled congress, which should be relevant if we’re talking about a change in congress.

    1. You’re mistaken there – depending on the definition of “proportional”.

      Bush the Lesser proved that income tax cuts do not increase tax revenue thereby killing any credibility of the Laffer Curve.

      (full 2001-2009 tax revenue must be taken under consideration as it spiked in 2006 and swan-dived in 2008-09)

      1. “Bush the Lesser proved that income tax cuts do not increase tax revenue thereby killing any credibility of the Laffer Curve.
        (full 2001-2009 tax revenue must be taken under consideration as it spiked in 2006 and swan-dived in 2008-09)”
        How much is cherry-picking paying these days?

  17. Bush the Lesser proved that income tax cuts do not increase tax revenue thereby killing any credibility of the Laffer Curve.

    Talk about pulling shit out of your ass. Are you saying that government revenue didn’t increase after the Bush tax cuts?!!!!

    Science you are stupid.

    1. Oh, missed your stupid qualification.

      According to your “logic” if revenues EVER go up, it can be attributed to tax cuts. Since you claim that any reduction, however distant from the actual cuts, were caused by the cuts.

      1. Hey, “Shrieks Cherry-Picking Service” is doing quite well.

      2. I acknowledged that federal revenue increased into 2006 but then fell off the table to fy 2009.

        I am always coherent and factual until my third glass of scotch (Highland Park is my fave now) but do not hit that mark before 7pm EST in any case.

        1. You’re drunk. You hit your 3rd glass of scotch 5 glasses ago. You are now drinking straight from the bottle.

          1. You appear to be a new poster – or at least unremarkable. Yet you claim clairvoyance.

            Strange.

        2. shrike|1.12.11 @ 6:34PM|#
          “I acknowledged that federal revenue increased into 2006 but then fell off the table to fy 2009.”
          Yes, we know you cherry-picked until your ‘data’ matched your lies.

  18. The nature of government is to grow … why try to fight it? *puts Cali Swag District on his ipod and falls into a stuper*

    all better.

  19. You have to fish for data to make the mass of Republican office holders look nearly as bad as Democrats on fiscal issues. Keep it simple and look at NTU ratings. I’ll admit I haven’t looked in a while, but consistently over many years the taxpayers’ unions very inclusive and fair ratings show a huge advantage nationwide by avg. Republicans over Democrats at the federal and state levels.

    I think you’ll find the same or more so if you look at polls of self identifying Republican, Democratic, and independent voters.

    1. Robert|1.12.11 @ 7:37PM|#
      “You have to fish for data to make the mass of Republican office holders look nearly as bad as Democrats on fiscal issues…”

      Could be, and Shriek will certainly give it a try, but being ‘not nearly as bad as’ sorta misses the point.

    2. Yeah except that the NTU rates office holders on how well they adhere to what is basically the Republican economic policy platform.

      1. You mean the Republican platform mirrors very closely what NTU rates (i.e. votes against taxes & spending)? Well, duh, doesn’t that say something very good about the GOP?

        1. No. A flat tax is horrible policy, and that’s what the NTU advocates.

          1. Seems to work for Estonia. They got into the Eurozone and are set for a big recovery from the recession.

  20. Stop throwing up what you eat, Veronique!

  21. Worry about things that affect your physical or financial well-being, not your petty pride.

    Who are you to say that someone’s pride is petty? Not only is there a biological necessity for pride, it is an emotion that has evolved in human beings over thousands of years. Why not tell someone to stop laughing and getting turned on by asian porn while you’re at it.

    fuckin’ nazi

  22. Fine, maybe Republicans forget that cutting spending goes with cutting taxes. But at least the GOP likes cutting taxes, and that creates prosperity, raises tax revenues, and made a lot of real estate speculators rich until the bubble burst.

    And since there are no libertarian candidates that can win a national election, I have no choice but to support GOP candidates as long as they’re not too fanatic about social issues.

    http://www.libertarians4freedom.blogspot.com/

  23. You know, I’m just not getting this. The question is posed “Can we trust the GOP?” while not a single person in here would consider “trusting the GOP” to curtail the scope and power of the government to be a serious proposition or seriously believes GOP has any real interest in promoting liberty.

    Likewise, we get pieces talking about how gun control hasn’t worked very well and prohibition isn’t effective and so on and I just don’t get it. These policies and others like them are universally accepted to be disasterous among libertarians not to mention that they run directly contrary to libertarian principles. Are we really still trying to make up our minds about these things??? Shouldn’t the issues be – how do we change these things and get rid of these assholes who almost universally promote and support anti-libertarian public policy?

    Shouldn’t the issues be, how on earth do we change a system that has gone so far off the rails that anything remotely resembling liberty is a faint and distant memory? Not “Jeeze, I think it might be time to take a second look at drug prohibition.” or “Is absolutely necessary for our safety to have thugs and high school dropouts with badges fondling our 12 year old daughters before they get on an airplane?” Aren’t the issues, how do we get rid of the assholes who have foisted this horseshit on us and how do we wake up the happy idiots who put them in power?

    I realize that libertarians spent most of their time preaching to themselves and maybe the intention is to try to reach non-libertarians, but good God, at this rate maybe in 30 years you might get an average American to begin to consider the possibility that they might own their own bodies and that they are not strictly property of the state. Or maybe that is the way Reason wants it.

  24. Interesting article. And dead on regarding the expenditures our government is making. But, I’d take the GOP going forward and push them to get more citizens more involved. Push self-reliance more and more. Even liberals respect that because they sure can’t beat it.

    Please check out http://www.fearofablackrepublican.com, the website for a documentary called “Fear of a Black Republican.” It looks at why there aren’t more Black Republicans and what this means for the Two-Party System.

    The trailer has Michael Steele, Cornel West, Lynn Swann, Tavis Smiley, Chistie Whitman, Maxine Waters, Ken Mehlman and Edward Brooke in it. Trailer runs about 3 minutes.

    Thanks.

  25. They may not have much choice in the matter regardless of whether they are serious or not. The continuation of endless spending, printing and bailouting will inevitably lead to a currency crisis ala Greece or even Iceland, should this occur “the spice WILL stop flowing” and ALL of the politically “too hard to manage” decisions will suddenly be on the table.

  26. Is this article for real? Can we trust the DNC with their Marxism and Progressivism? Can we trust them with their labor unions, ACORN, environmental nut jobs, greedy lawyers, gun control advocates, anti-tobacco freaks, former terrorists (Bill Ayres), race baiters, and all their nutjobs? Republicans may not be perfect, but I don’t remember Bush apologizing for America’s mistakes, bowing like a bitch in front of Saudi Kings, and spending more in in 2 years than Bush spent in 8. Hey, Republicans may not be perfect, ???? ????? ??? ???????
    but at least there’s no Obamacare with them.

  27. Some things can be taught online, but learning is about experience. Trade schools, I believe, teach the best with hands-on activities that emulate the real world. You can’t teach that online at the University of Phoenix.
    ???? ?????? ????? ????????

    Also, although students at for-profit schools make up 9% of American college students, they account for more than 40% of defaulted student loan accounts. Also, students graduating from for-profit schools, have more than twice the debt of traditional college students.

    ???? ?????? ????? ???????
    Bottom line is that education is a public trust. The drive to make money off of it is part of what is driving the quality of education down. Notice how the for-profit model has crept into the traditional college systems. They need to compete to make money now…and the students are the ones who end up hurt.

  28. Some things can be taught online, but learning is about experience. Trade schools, I believe, teach the best with hands-on activities that emulate the real world. You can’t teach that online at the University of Phoenix.
    ???? ?????? ????? ???????

    Also, although students at for-profit schools make up 9% of American college students, they account for more than 40% of defaulted student loan accounts. Also, students graduating from for-profit schools, have more than twice the debt of traditional college students.

    ???? ?????? ????? ???? ?????
    Bottom line is that education is a public trust. The drive to make money off of it is part of what is driving the quality of education down. Notice how the for-profit model has crept into the traditional college systems. They need to compete to make money now…and the students are the ones who end up hurt.

  29. Some things can be taught online, but learning is about experience. Trade schools, I believe, teach the best with hands-on activities that emulate the real world. You can’t teach that online at the University of Phoenix.
    ???? ??? ??? ????

    Also, although students at for-profit schools make up 9% of American college students, they account for more than 40% of defaulted student loan accounts. Also, students graduating from for-profit schools, have more than twice the debt of traditional college students.

    ???? ??? ???? ????
    Bottom line is that education is a public trust. The drive to make money off of it is part of what is driving the quality of education down. Notice how the for-profit model has crept into the traditional college systems. They need to compete to make money now…and the students are the ones who end up hurt.

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