These Charts Show That, Yes, Gov’t Is Growing

If, for some reason, you believe government spending hasn’t increased steadily over the last 40 years (with massive increases in the last decade), we offer you the following chart from noted economist Veronique de Rugy:

The amount of dollars spent per capita.

“The data clearly highlight that, after adjusting for population and inflation, federal outlays have, with a few exceptions, mostly grown, with a clear increase over the past 12 years,” she writes.

Indeed, as the above chart illustrates, and with the exception of President Bill Clinton, the amount spent per capita has increased in every administration regardless of which party has controlled the White House.

President Jimmy Carter’s first budget spent $6,600 per person, and President Ronald Reagan’s first budget spent $7,000. President George H. W. Bush’s first budget spent $8,100, and President Bill Clinton’s first budget spent $8,200.

“Remarkably, the Clinton era oversaw a decline in the per capita spending — from $8,200 to $8,000 over eight years,” Veronique de Rugy notes.

However, as you can clearly see, President George W. Bush undid all of that during his two terms, setting the tone for President Obama’s unprecedented $11,600 per capita in his first budget.

Bottom line: We have a spending problem and our government is growing at an alarming pace.

“And it will get worse when spending on programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid explode over the next few years. I hope that Congress will start cutting spending rather than kicking the can down the road again,” she adds.

Still not convinced? Fine, try these [all captions via Veronique de Rugy]:

"Total federal outlays measured in real terms (adjusted for inflation). Relative to the main chart, these outlays grow at a faster rate each year."
"Total federal outlays measured in nominal terms (not adjusted for inflation). The nominal data help portray the level of spending with the purchasing power of money in that current year. Such data show an even more magnified growth in spending relative to the previous charts."
"Total federal outlays measured relative to total economic output or GDP. Measuring outlays as a portion of GDP shows how much spending grows with respect to the total amount of wealth produced within a given year. "
"Gross domestic product, 1977–2011. This chart shows the evolution of the nation’s total economic activity. The 2012 data is projected."

If nothing else, can we at least all agree that spending has reached undesirable (i.e. terrifying) levels? If we can do that, then maybe we can finally move forward to finding some useful, meaningful, and lasting solutions.

Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

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