The Corner

For the Statisticians Among Us

In the wee hours of yesterday morning, I posted a blog about a chart, “The $125 billion binge,” that detailed Republican spending in recent years, but only in absolute dollars, noting that I’d so far been unable to find information about said spending as a proportion of GDP (I was the one poking around for the information, I suppose should make clear, and not John Cogan or Glenn Hubbard, the authors of the article in which the chart appears).  Opening my inbox for the first time since traveling back East (I write from Woodstock, Vermont, where a couple of my kids and I are flopping for the night after spending the day looking over my beloved Dartmouth, which appears, it must be said, almost as spectacular in high summer as it does at the very peak of autumn), I found the following:

The historical tables of the FY 2009 President’s budget has information

on non-defense discretionary by year. See p. 137 of the historical

tables from FY 2009 President’s budget, which is p. 141 on the pdf,

which can be found here.  Bottom line:  Non-defense discretionary spending was 3.4% of GDP in

1997.  It then fell to 3.2% of GDP in 1999 (the lowest figure since at

least 1962).  In 2001, the last budget Bush was not responsible for,

non-defense discretionary spending was 3.4% of GDP.  It rose to 3.9% of

GDP by 2005, but fell to 3.6% of GDP in 2007.

Non-defense discretionary peaked at 5.2% of GDP in 1980.  The last

budget year Reagan was responsible for (1989) it declined all the way

to 3.4% of GDP.

Thanks to the staff of the Republican Study Committee, which sent the information along, and so to bed.  (The college tour continues tomorrow with Bowdoin.)

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