The 43rd president of the United States can justly claim his share of achievements. These include preventing another terrorist attack after 9/11, the landmark 2003 tax cuts, and outstanding additions to the Supreme Court.
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.
But before congratulating Bush 43 for a heckuva job, readers of “Decision Points” might wish to dig into the numbers a little deeper. Brian Riedl of the Heritage Foundation points out that Messrs. Reagan and Clinton have higher averages because they inherited larger governments as a percentage of the economy and then shrank them.