The Corner

Calling Bruce Bartlett

Shot an episode of Uncommon Knowledge today with Paul Krugman (about whom more in a moment) and Robert Barro, the Harvard economist who is also, for several months each year, a colleague of mine at the Hoover Institution.

Robert provided a stout defense of George W. Bush’s tax cuts, but proved much more critical of the rest of Bush’s economic agenda than I’d expected, taking pains, repeatedly, to deride domestic spending that he characterized as unrestrained. I replied by citing Josh Bolten’s recent column in the Wall Street Journal. Bolten contended that aside from outlays occasioned by the war on terror–outlays, that is, related to defense and homeland security–Bush’s domestic spending has actually been quite modest.

Robert’s response? He flatly rejected Bolten’s contention.

Which is where Bruce Bartlett comes in.

As readers of this Corner know, Bruce, a fine economist, has been paying close attention to the President’s budgets. And Bruce is himself a reader of The Corner, as witness that when I posted my plaint about HP computers he instantly emailed to say I should have bought a Mac. So, Bruce, who’s right, Bolten or Barro? Has the President indeed been engaging in unrestrained domestic spending? Or only in domestic spending forced on him by 9/11?