Advancing a Free Society

President George W. Bush’s spending record

Friday, November 19, 2010

In a blog post at the Wall Street Journal, James Freeman writes:

But George W. Bush is making a less credible claim, now that reducing federal spending is a top voter concern. Mr. Bush is currently portraying himself as a spending hawk, with a chart in his new memoir showing that federal spending averaged just 19.6% of GDP during his tenure. This appears to make Mr. Bush a more responsible spender than predecessors Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and even Ronald Reagan.

Nowhere in Decision Points does President Bush refer to himself as a “spending hawk.”  He does write:

Despite the costs of two recessions, the costliest natural disaster in history, and a two-front war, our fiscal record was strong.

I drew a different conclusion than Mr. Freeman did from the President’s book.  Throughout Decision Points and this section in particular, I read President Bush as providing context to explain the decisions he made, rather than trying to make particular claims or classify himself.

Despite his post’s title, “George W. Bush’s Fuzzy Math,” Mr. Freeman does not dispute the math or the facts in President Bush’s book.  He instead argues for a different way of measuring a President’s fiscal record.

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