The chart in this post ought to scare the bejeezus out of you. It shows how much our government has spent per-capita in inflation-adjusted dollars in every year going back to 1977. You won’t be surprised to see that number had trended upwards and that it’s biggest increase, by far, has come in the past four years.
What might surprise you is that Republican administrations have not exactly held the line on spending. The Reagan and Bush 41 years saw overall spending increases while the Clinton administration’s numbers were generally lower than the administration before it. Spending exploded once under Bush 43 and again under Obama.
You can probably make the point that President’s don’t bear much responsibility for government spending — the Constitution gives that duty to Congress — but you can’t take the White House completely off the hook. The President submits the budget that Congress then tweaks and alters. Once a budget is passed (let me note here the Senate has not approved a budget for over three years), the President does have the power to veto it if it’s too large and spends too much. I can’t recall the last time a President rejected a budget that way. For that matter, I can’t recall the last time since Ronald Reagan a President pushed hard in public for a budget smaller than the one Congress wanted to pass.
The President is the Chief Executive and that matters when it comes time to spend the money. We won’t solve our fiscal problems without help from the Oval Office. It’s time we got a President who took the budget seriously.