WASHINGTON – Federal spending under the Bush administration has grown five times larger than that during the second term of the Clinton administration, charges a conservative Republican activist in a new book that paints the president as a traitor to his party.
In “Conservatives Betrayed,” Richard Viguerie, credited with being one of the architects of the Reagan Revolution, says George W. Bush has set the stage for the punishment of his party by voters.
Viguerie compares spending by the federal government, adjusted for inflation, during the Clinton years vs. the Bush years. In Clinton’s first term, federal expenditures rose 4.7 percent. In his second term, they rose 3.7 percent. In the first term of the Bush administration, however, spending rose 19.2 percent.
“If ever there was a case for divided government, here it is,” writes Viguerie. “The lesson for many Americans is that today’s Republicans cannot be trusted with the keys to both the executive and legislative branches of the federal government.”
No matter how you slice it, Viguerie says, Bush makes Clinton look like a spending piker by comparison. For instance, the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University in New York keeps records that show how much the federal government spends on average each year for each person in the country. When this standard of measurement is used, the comparison between the two administrations is even more pronounced.
Cumulative growth in federal expenditures, adjusted for inflation, during the Clinton years actually shrunk by 1.1 percent. Yet, in the Bush first term, it rose 15 percent.
“During President Bush’s first five years in office, the federal government increased by $616 billion,” Viguerie writes. “That’s a mammoth 33 percent jump in the size of the federal government in just his first five years! To put this in perspective, this increase of $616 billion is more than the entire federal budget in Jimmy Carter’s last years in office. And conservatives were complaining about Big Government back then! How can Bush, (Dennis) Hastert, (Bill) Frist and company look us in the eye and tell us they are fiscal conservatives when in five short years they increased the already-bloated government by more than the budget for the entire federal government when Ronald Reagan was assuming office?”
Another standard of comparison offered by Viguerie is discretionary domestic spending, adjusted for inflation.
“When we strip away defense, homeland security and entitlements and adjust for inflation, leaving only discretionary domestic spending, George W. Bush has grown the federal government at a faster pace than Lyndon Baines Johnson,” Viguerie writes. “His record for profligate spending is outmatched (for the time being) only by another Big Government Republican, Richard Nixon. And when Bush’s second term is over, there’s every reason to expect that Bush will hold the record as the president who’s grown the federal government at its fastest pace in modern times.”
- Johnson: 4.1 percent
- Nixon/Ford: 5 percent
- Carter: 1.6 percent
- Reagan: 1.4 percent
- Bush I: 3.8 percent
- Clinton: 2.1 percent
- Bush II: 4.8 percent
Viguerie compares the modern presidents on the use of the veto, too. While Johnson used the veto power 30 times, Nixon 43, Ford 66, Carter 31, Reagan 78, Bush I 44 and Clinton 36, Bush didn’t use it at all in his first term and has used it just once – for a non-spending issue – in his second term.
“Bush apologists give the excuse that it’s harder to veto bills that are passed by your own party,” Viguerie writes. “Yet LBJ and Carter each cast 30 or more vetoes while their own party controlled Congress. In fact, the all-time master of the veto was Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He used the veto power an incredible 636 times during his four terms – despite having a Democratic Congress with majorities as lopsided as 75-17 in the Senate and 333-89 in the House! Congress overrode his vetoes a mere nine times.”
Yet another formula for measuring presidential fiscal responsibility, according to Viguerie, is rescissions. Reagan used rescission power to rescind funds authorized by Congress. Ford rescinded $7.9 billion in spending. Carter rescinded $4.6 billion, Reagan $43.4 billion, Bush I $13.1 billion, Clinton $6.6 billion.
But George W. Bush has not rescinded even $1 in congressional spending.
“The best illustration of the corrupting influence of power on the Republicans is the explosion of pork-barrel spending projects since 2000,” says Viguerie.
Viguerie points to a 121 percent increase in pork-barrel earmarks in the first five years of the Bush administration.
“The size of the federal government is the single most important barometer of the health of the American republic,” writes Viguerie. “When domestic federal spending goes up, it’s a surefire indicator that something is wrong. And the way spending has been increasing under the Bush administration and the Republican Congress shows that things are seriously wrong.”