Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Pretty bad, but not as bad as I had thought. If one excludes both defense spending and interest on the debt, then Bush is not in the worst group -- Eisenhower, JFK, LBJ and Nixon. Instead, he is in the middle group of Ford and Bush I. The best president is, not surprising, Ronald Reagan, who held non-defense, non-interest spending to a real annual average growth of 1 percent. Interestingly, the other two presidents who fall into the best group are Clinton and Carter. In the case of Clinton, I believe the lion's share of the credit belongs to Republican Congress, since Clinton certainly would have been happy to expand government spending with health care (although some of the credit does belong to Clinton). Carter's case is more puzzling, since he governed with large Democratic congressional majorities.