Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Hey, Big Spender
Hint: It don't look good:
UPDATE: It slipped my mind when posting this earlier, but thanks to long-time regular commentator, Moose, for bringing the Hassett piece to my attention.
If Bush had promised in January 2001 that the baseline of government spending that he inherited when he took office would be the cap during his term, then we would have a big budget surplus today. It would have been easy to do. He just had to say: ``I will not spend one penny more than President Bill Clinton planned to. I will veto any bill that tries to.''
To see how different the world could have been, I gathered data from a number of sources and ran an alternative history. In that wishful place, government spending was set equal to the spending envisioned by the Congressional Budget Office in the January 2001 long-run forecast, plus the spending for the war in Iraq and to fight terrorism. This simulation assumes that the war would have happened in spite of Bush's spending promise, and wouldn't have induced him to seek cuts elsewhere.
The difference between that spending path and the one we are on is huge. Today, we expect federal spending in 2008 will be $2.9 trillion. According to the alternative history, spending would be $2.5 trillion.