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Why Republicans have lost their way
Posted by: McQ on Friday, March 16, 2007

At least fiscally. And it is all said succinctly in a single chart:

What you'll notice is, this isn't a recent phenomenon although in the case of Bush 43, it is worse than other Republican administrations. And look at the Democratic administrations. Surprised?

So, then, who are the profligates? Any wonder why the Republicans have lost the confidence of fiscal conservatives?

In the case of most Republican administrations, the expansion of government was most prevalent as well. There seems to be a tendency of Republican administrations to try to spend themselves in the good graces of their opposition. "Why" remains a mystery to me.

Lest you should think that maybe the numbers aren't presented in their best light, let me disabuse you of the thought - the chart is from the Heritage Foundation, hardly a liberal bastion.

If Republicans want to recapture fiscal conservatives who are abandoning them in droves, all they have to do is, well, act like Democrat administrations in the past.

Strange world we live in, huh?
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
Perhaps this is because I’m a Ford apologist, but it should be noted that the President in power at any one time does have not complete control over the budget. In 1975 and 1976, the large Democratic majority in Congress was in at least some way responsible for the imbalance in spending vs. revenue in those years.

That having been said, Bush the Younger has never DONE anything that suggests that he is a fiscal conservative. Quite the contrary. (Is "fiscal neoconservative" an oxymoron???)
 
Written By: Ontario Emperor
URL: http://mrontemp.blogspot.com/
Perhaps this is because I’m a Ford apologist, but it should be noted that the President in power at any one time does have not complete control over the budget. In 1975 and 1976, the large Democratic majority in Congress was in at least some way responsible for the imbalance in spending vs. revenue in those years.
And in Ford’s defense, he used the veto pen 66 times in 2 years. That’s huge (Reagan only used it 78 times in 8 years) Whereas Bush 43? Once.

So Ford may be a bit of an anomaly. But the rest have absolutely no excuse.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
How much of these charts are distorted by military spending?
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
McQ, I’m not sure if I’m 100% aghast at this. Those #’s are percent changes. The Clinton years scare me more than the Bush 43 years.

During that time, Clinton’s administration took 30% more money from me yet only needed 4% (and that’s assuming the increase in spending was 100% necessary, which we all know is bogus).

Ostensibly, couldn’t Bush’s administration be taking less of my money and spending more of what they have already?

Being that I can’t even balance my checkbook, don’t take my questions as anything but ignorance.
 
Written By: Robb Allen
URL: http://blog.robballen.com
I think the chart is dead on, but the question is why?

I think it has to do with what happens when Republicans are in power. In each of those administrations, whether Democratic or Republican, the Democrats ask for more spending than the Republicans. Analyzing the votes make that clear.

However, when Democrats are in power the Republicans consistently oppose spending for political reasons, thus lower spending overall. We get obstructionism.

When in power, the Democrats also oppose the Republicans spending, but (with the occasional exception of military spending) always because they want more. The bias, now that Republicans have the opportunity to spend, is upward. The change in Republicans habits do not have to be large, small shifts in their voting habits, given the constant push for more from Democrats, results in outsize effects.

I covered that in more detail here and here.
But the rest have absolutely no excuse.
Nixon certainly doesn’t. He operationally acted like liberal Democrat. I still remember reading George McGovern claim Nixon was the best President of the post war era in the late eighties. Ironic and depressing.

Reagan was certainly distorted by military spending and battling the spending increases coming out of the recession. Because spending was increasing based on inflation, which came down far faster than anyone expected, (James Tobin claimed the projections Reagan actually used were impossible, not improbable, but impossible. Then the impossible not only happened it turned out Reagan’s figures were way too pessimistic) spending radically moved ahead of inflation. Then when he tried to scale back the increases he and the Republicans were raked over the coals for their draconian cuts, when obviously they were not cuts at all. Those two factors account for most of his difficulties. The two Bush Presidents are almost as bad as Nixon. Kinder, gentler ... Compassionate conservatism and all that.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
While spending and revenue increases are a good proxy for increase/decrease in size and scope of government, they are not the only measures to take into account. And if you take some of those other measures into account, Republicans do even worse.

For example, the Americans with Disabilities act was passed under Bush the elder, and Sarbanes-Oxley was passed under the Bush the younger. Both are huge drains on the economy in ways that don’t show up in the chart, because they impose their costs on the private sector.

Even the Republican co-author of Sarbox now says it’s overreach. It’s the equivalent of a huge tax increase on the economy, without even getting any government goodies in return. And we’ve all heard the stories of stage ramps for exotic dancers, which is the visible manifestation of how overreaching and intrusive the ADA is.

Contrast with HillaryCare, which the Democrats would have been happy to pass but the Republicans had the spine to oppose (thank you Phil Gramm!). That reinforces the idea that Republicans are willing to oppose Democratic presidents’ initiatives, but less willing to oppose Republican presidents’ initiatives even when they’re just as bad.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
I’m glad to see Lance has already presented the largely exculpatory context of Reagan’s chart.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
So explain to me why we are now heading back to balance with the deficit?

This graph is interesting but not so useful, IMO.

Recessions and booms, demographics, along with wars and peace dividends probably count for more than political party in charge.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Irrespective of how the chart is best interpreted, Bush the Younger and his pals in Congress definitely disabused taxpayers of any notion that Republicans stand for fiscal responsibility - or even sanity - when they gave us the No Child Left Behind boondoggle and then hung the Medicare prescription drug millstone around our kids’ and grandkids’ necks. The two major parties should change their names to Worst and Worse Still.
 
Written By: Linda Morgan
URL: http://
Shark:

Some, surely, but given that even with increased spending due to our operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere defense is still less than a quarter of the federal budget I doubt that OIF/OEF spending alone can account for all of the spending increase. I’ll try and run the numbers a little later today and see what comes out.
 
Written By: Lysenko
URL: http://
The vast majority of the increase in spending is due to military spending and mandatory spending (Social Security and Medicare, primarily). You can’t cut spending without cutting those two areas. Anybody who is not for cutting military spending, Social Security, AND Medicare, is not a fiscal conservative.
 
Written By: A.S.
URL: http://
What I don’t understand is how come revenue increased 29% under Clinton who raised taxes, but only 7% for Bush who lowered taxes. I’m pretty sure that lowering taxes increases revenue.
 
Written By: k
URL: http://
What I don’t understand is how come revenue increased 29% under Clinton who raised taxes, but only 7% for Bush who lowered taxes. I’m pretty sure that lowering taxes increases revenue.
Clinton was fortunate enough not to have had a recession while in office, and to have been in office during the big run in the stock market.

Lowering taxes increases growth, and the idea is that increased growth will result in increased tax revenue in the future. But the US economy is not recession-proof, and a recession will always decrease revenues.



I think the chart is incomplete. I know the ones who made it are trying to show that Republican Presidents are worse fiscally than Democratic Presidents. But there’s more to the story.

A better chart would show spending and revenues by Congress, with the party make up of each. The spending should be broken down into rough categories. Then each President’s term can be shown on the graph.

It would make for something interesting, I think.
 
Written By: steverino
URL: http://steverino.journalspace.com/
I think the chart is incomplete. I know the ones who made it are trying to show that Republican Presidents are worse fiscally than Democratic Presidents.
The Heritage Foundation? I’d have to disagree on that one Steverino.

The chart shows straight percentages in changes of revenue and spending. The fact that the numbers came out as they did are as surprising to me as anyone, but to claim the Heritage Foundation’s intent was to show Reps worse than Dems is a little weak in my estimation.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Bush is doing a bang up job - his 22% increase in spending is larger only than Johnson’s - who gave us, IIRC, escalation of the vietnam war, medicare, medicaid, AFDC, etc.

Clinton was a champ when it came to spending (4%, half as much as the next lowest figure).

Interesting comparison would be to put up the increases in GDP for each president as well.
 
Written By: Ugh
URL: http://
Clinton was a champ when it came to spending (4%, half as much as the next lowest figure
He had help in the form of a Republican counter in Congress for six years.

Unfortunately those who have control of the purse strings, Democrat or Republican, are tempted to spend as much as possible, unless checked by outside forces such as the Legislature. Spending begets votes, and the politician’s first duty is to get reelected.

Republicans are not immune to this, Richard Millstone Nixon and Bush the Younger are good examples of Republicans acting like free spending Democrats. Both parties spend like “Drunken Sailors”, Republican sober up somewhat sooner.
 
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://
The Heritage Foundation? I’d have to disagree on that one Steverino.
I’ll defend my point, McQ. I didn’t say that The Heritage Foundation thought Republicans were bad, just the Republican Presidents. There’s a difference. I’m sure their argument will be something like: the Republican Presidents we’ve had were worse than Democrats, we need to nominate more fiscally conservative candidates.

The graph is way too simplistic. It doesn’t take GDP growth into consideration, nor does it consider categories of spending. I’m sure Clinton’s number wouldn’t look nearly so good if we took defense spending out of the equation, because Clinton cut that spending under the idea of the "peace dividend". Likewise, I’m sure most of the growth in revenue took place when Republicans were controlling Congress.

So, why would The Heritage Foundation ignore a ton of relevant data to produce this graph if it weren’t trying to show a lack of fiscal restraint on the part of Republican Presidents?
 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://steverino.journalspace.com/
Now do a chart comparing average GDP, or Tax revenue between the two presidents. How can you compare what people spend if you don’t establish what they earn?
 
Written By: Jimmy the Dhimmi
URL: http://www.warning1938alert.ytmnd.com
Again, the chart is a straight forward comparison of revenue growth and spending. While it is certainly not complimentary of Republican administrations, it isn’t some sort of trick graph. And I don’t see any ulterior motive to the graph. BTW, it is one of a whole series of graphs so its hard to see how this one is made specifically to make Reps look bad.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Perhaps it appears in the small type somewhere on the chart, but how much of that percentage change in spending is due to entitlement (non-discretionary) spending?

Or to be more openly tenditious—how often is an administration on that chart "increasing spending" on their watch in order to pay for promises made by a previous administration?
 
Written By: JMD
URL: http://
How much of these charts are distorted by military spending?


Almost none blaming military spending for the present budget deficient is a “strawman”. Military spending as a percentage of GNP is lower than at anytime since before World War Two. The increase is due to mandatary increases and political pork. The defect would be eliminated if the government would only stop meddling with our lives. That is not going to happen.
 
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://
Q, its like saying the Bush administration is fiscally less responsible because he left America with an 8 trillion dollar debt, as apposed to Clintons 5 trillion. You don’t mention that the GDP under Bush has grown to 12 trillion as apposed to Clinton’s 7 and 1/2.

If I spent a huge amount of raw dollars on a tricked out Hum-V, it would be fiscally irresponsible. If Lebron James does the same thing - not so much.
 
Written By: Jimmy the Dhimmi
URL: http://www.warning1938alert.ytmnd.com
Q, its like saying the Bush administration is fiscally less responsible because he left America with an 8 trillion dollar debt, as apposed to Clintons 5 trillion. You don’t mention that the GDP under Bush has grown to 12 trillion as apposed to Clinton’s 7 and 1/2.
Those are all inferences you guys are making. I’m simply pointing to a graph which documents government revenue increases by percentage and government spending by percentage. That points to the leadership’s success or failure, under that particular administration, of controlling spending - something that Republicans tell everyone they’re best at doing.

And you guys beam in and make excuses for them. The fact remains that in straight percentage terms, Republican administrations, despite their claims, have done a poorer job of controlling spending in relation to revenue generated than have Democratic administrations. In every case Republican administrations have okayed spending more than the tax revenue generated.

While there may be mitigating circumstances and reasons, it still appears to be a disturbing trend. And, when ’08 comes around the Republican candidate is again going to claim that he is better suited to control spending than his Democratic opponent. He will not caveat that by saying "if the GDP grows a certain percentage/amount" or any other such mitigating circumstances. He’s flat going to claim that he’ll spend less money than the government receives.

The graph tells us we ought to take such claims with a grain of salt.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Republican administrations, despite their claims, have done a poorer job of controlling spending in relation to revenue generated than have Democratic administrations.
Until the 94’ Republican revolution, the House had been controlled by Democrats for forty years. Since appropriations have to originate in the House, the Democrats had a large say in spending. During the Reagan administration a deal was struck in which congress would cut two dollars in spending for every dollar in a tax increase. The Democratic Congress took the increased taxes, but instead of cutting spending, increased it.

This is not to absolve Republican Presidents, too many have acted like free spending Democrats when they got in office. Clinton’s spending was slowed by a Republican house, but when Bush 43 became President, the Republican’s morphed into drunken sailors, spending like their opponents.

When it comes to spending, both parties are whores to their special interests, and they should be condemned for it.
 
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://
Until the 94’ Republican revolution, the House had been controlled by Democrats for forty years.
And during those 40 years the veto still existed for Republican presidents of that era.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
The more I think about it , I see your point. Never-the-less, Democrats or Republicans, so long as my takes are low, the economy is de-regulated, and the defecit remains manageable, I don’t mind big gov’t spending so long as you get something good for the money. Thats what the real debate should be about in the end.
 
Written By: Jimmy the Dhimmi
URL: http://www.warning1938alert.ytmnd.com
And during those 40 years the veto still existed for Republican presidents of that era
You can only blame political cowardice for the failure to exercise the VETO. You have to expect Democrats to spend. That is what they are here for. You should expect Republicans to try and stop that spending, that’s supposed to be what they are here for. Since the Republican party can not or will not stop spending, the question becomes, “What do we need them for?”
 
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://

 
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