Besides That?, Mr. Hinderaker, how did you like the chart?

Assrocket demonstrates the Besides That? Syndrome.


This chart tends to undermine the stereotype of the free-spending, money-hemorrhaging Bush administration. If the numbers are correct, only defense and medical care have risen significantly during the present administration*, measured as a percentage of GDP. The increase in defense spending is good, and the increase in medical costs is bad, but typical of what has happened at all levels of government under current law.**

Translation: Here’s a chart that makes it look as though the Bush administration hasn’t been blowing gigantic cyclones of money out of the treasury. Since we at Powerline use data the way a drunk uses a lamppost — for support, not illumination — this chart is therefore useful in presenting a case that the opposite of reality may in fact be true.

[Shorter translation: We’re a trio of shyster lawyers whose notion of ‘evidence’ is purely instrumental — i.e., it is anything that may help ‘present a case.’]

UPDATE: Joshua Claybourn of In the Agora notes that 1) the chart doesn’t take into account commitments to future spending made by the Bush administration, most notably the Medicare drug entitlement, and 2) there is no reason to be satisified with expansion of government spending at the rate of GDP growth. Both are fair points, but do not negate the usefulness of the chart as a historical look at spending trends.
Posted by John at 10:14 PM

Translation: Besides? the fact that the chart is misleading in this context, it is indeed a chart about government spending.

[Some additional points of inquiry re: using GDP as a single metric: Housing bubble, tax cuts, deficit spending, trade imbalance.]

*And also that yellow line, and sort of the green one as well.
**We have no idea what this means.


Comments: 11


Unrelated observation: has MJ’ been scrubbed from the internet? PeePo is no more and has been replaced by a Marie-free Conservative Voice. Was she a figment of our imagination?


Hmmm… and I wonder what the chart for inflation-adjusted revenues would look like? Reducing taxes to Eisenhower-level proportion of the economy without touching major spending… nope, doesn’t affect the deficit at all!


whew, she’s on there, just not in the “about us” pile.


Funny how most of those lines are trending upwards. And how convenient that it stops at 2004.


Look! Bush spends less than Reagan!

Nice benchmark you got there.


I also fail to see how additional ‘defense’ spending is automatically assumed to be a good thing. It’s great if you’re a defense contractor, but not so great if you’re a taxpayer or Iraqi.

Also interesting to note that spending on Social Security appears relatively flat.


Yeah, someone in a conservative forum today told me today that Canada’s ecomomy, healcare, low pre-mature death rate ect. was totally irrelevant because our military wasn’t up to snuff…
That was his whole argument.


Brilliant argument. If Canada had the requirement for a large blue-water navy, large air-force and decent-sized-but-high-tech ground force, then they’d probably invest in such a thing. As it stands, they don’t, and we do (kind of). Can someone put up that “apples and oranges” visual aid please.


Oh, c’mon now! That chart is pretty clear. If you add up all the percentages, they add up to 100, just like they did during the Clinton years. The total percentage of Federal spending, indeed, has stayed constant. Bravo, Bush!


Seems to me the only line trending down is labeled “net interest”. I’m assuming that that is not net interest in hearing a Bush Speech, but net interest paid on the debt.

Could that be because the Clinton surplus carried over into the beginning of BushCo? Could that be because Greenspan, after arbitrarily jacking them up pre-2000 election, lowered interest rates to an absurdly low level, ostensibly to avoid a deep recession caused by his jacking up interest rates? Ya think maybe this year, and next year, and the year after that, and the yuear after that, etc. ad nauseam, that line may turn a bit upward?


What’s remarkable is that they as much as admit they’re just instrumentally looking for a way to present the data that supports their preferred version of events. There is really nothing quite like powerline.


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