In selling his big-spending ideas for reviving the U.S. economy, President Obama on Thursday night chastised "the same policies that, for the last eight years, doubled our national debt, and threw our economy into a tail spin." Count on hearing more of the same today in public appearances at noon and again in prime time.
Well, we couldn't agree more with the president. Unfortunately, he seems unaware that exploding the size of government is a remarkably Bush-esque ideal. Says Cato Senior Fellow Daniel J. Mitchell:
"Bush took office when government was consuming $1.86 trillion, 18.5 percent of GDP. The budget this fiscal year (which began last October 1) is estimated by CBO to reach $3.54 trillion, 24.9 percent of GDP – as astounding and deeply disturbing increase in the burden of government of 6.4 percentage points of GDP (The burden of government as a share of GDP under FDR, by contrast, never grew by more than 2.7 percentage points of GDP).
"Federal spending, however, is just one measure of the burden of government. Bush also presided over massive interventions in financial markets, imposed costly new regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley, and increased distortions in sectors such as agriculture.
"Big government—in the form of both spending and intervention—drove America into an economic ditch. Unfortunately, after campaigning for change, Obama is asking for more of the same."
Cato research on Bush-era spending:
Conservative Bush Spends More than 'Liberal' Presidents Clinton, Carter by Tad DeHaven and Veronique de Rugy
July 31, 2003
Bush's Overspending Problem
by Chris Edwards
February 6, 2003
The Bush Legacy: Deflation or Inflation? by Steve H. Hanke
September 24, 2008
Bush: The $3 Trillion Dollar Man by Chris Edwards
February 1, 2008