A budget wonk friend chimes in:
Hi Jonah, I had to respond to Gerson… Gerson also takes a cheap shot at President Reagan, condemning him for for spending levels higher than today’s. President Reagan inherited a bloated federal government that spent 21.7% of GDP, and reduced it to 21.2% even while fighting the Cold War and working with a Democratic Congress. By winning the cold war, his spending legacy was a 1990s peace dividend that helped temporarily balance the budget. President Bush inherited a federal government that had been pared down to 18.4% of GDP, was given a GOP Congress, and responded by signing across-the-board spending hikes (well beyond the war) that pushed spending all the way back to 20.2% of GDP. His spending legacy will be a Medicare drug entitlement that costs trillions in future decades.