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Archive for June 1st, 2022

The 21st century has been bad news for America’s taxpayers. Every president (George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden) has been a big spender.

We obviously can’t give Biden a final grade since he has at least two more years in office (though his performance so far has been dismal – and his so-called Build Back Better is an ongoing threat to fiscal sanity).

But there is comprehensive data allowing us to assess Biden’s three predecessors. Brian Riedl of the Manhattan Institute has a new report that shows what happened to red ink under Bush, Obama, and Trump.

He measures what happened to 10-year deficit projections based on both legislated changes (what laws were enacted during time in office) and changes in economic and technical assumptions (largely driven by unanticipated changes in the economy).

As I’ve repeatedly written, I don’t think we should focus on red ink. What really matters is the burden of government spending.

So I’ve taken Brian’s rigorous analysis and highlighted what happened to government spending during the Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations.

We’ll start with George W. Bush, who approved laws adding almost $4.3 trillion to America’s spending burden.

Then we have Barack Obama, who added $1.4 trillion to America’s spending burden.

Then we have Donald Trump, who added $6 trillion to America’s spending burden.

Here are some final observations about the numbers.

The bottom line is that I wish we could return to the spending restraint that America enjoyed during the final two decades of the 20th century.

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