One of the constant themes of this Republican presidential campaign has been the need to reign in spending. They claim that they "are the party of smaller government! We will cut taxes and cut spending and reduce the size of the Federal government!" or something like that.
Does that ring true?
On the surface, the Republicans seem sincere in their desires to reduce both the size and the cost of the Federal government. But our debt situation is hardly a game in which Republicans are the innocent small-government crusaders agains the evil Democratic spenders. Consider the following chart
Under Carter, Clinton and Bush I, our Federal spending kept pace with our population growth. Under Reagan and Bush II, our growth in spending signficantly outpaced our population. Under Obama that spending reached a new height, and has remained at that height for his entire administration.
So...Did Obama increase our Federal spending dramatically? Yes, the largest one year jump in the past 35 years (and, in reality, in all of US history)--a huge almost 20% jump in Federal spending per capita in his first year in office. But Reagan had about a 20% increase over his eight years in office, and Bush II had ~25% growth in his eight years. Republicans can spin this all they want--Reagan was fighting to end the cold war, Bush II was fighting wars on two fronts and everyone knows that wars are expensive, both inherited economies in a free fall, etc. But that is just rationalization for the truth that tax-and-spend liberals have nothing on cut-taxes-and-spend-more Republicans.
For some time now I have said that listening to George W. Bush give his last State of the Union address was like listening to Democrats from the 70's, and he certainly spent money like crazy--more than even Jimmy Carter. Saying Obama is "worse" on the spending issue is certainly damning with faint praise.
If Romney and Ryan are intent on reducing our deficit and debt--and they certainly say that they are--then they will be bucking not just the historic levels achieved under the Obama administration, but the very spending that their GOP predecessors excelled at.
Here's hopting that Romney and Ryan are up to the challenge.