In his last four years in office, Richard Nixon ran modest budget deficits totaling $64 billion. (All budget deficit figures come from the very cool “Find the Data” web site, which you can find here.)
Every year Gerald Ford was president, he ran modest budget deficits – modest, but larger than Nixon’s: three years, $133 billion.
Ronald Reagan, Mr. Conservative himself, pushed deficit-spending to new levels: eight years in office, eight budget deficits, starting from $79 billion in his first year, 1981, and rising to a consistent $100 billion or $200 billion in his remaining years in office. Reagan’s grand total: about $1.2 trillion in deficit spending for eight years in office.
His successor, George H.W. Bush, increased the deficit, up to $300 billion in each of his last three years in office. His total: $1.3 trillion in deficit spending. (Those Bush men are such achievers.)
Bill Clinton had five years of budget deficits, all smaller than his predecessor, totaling $300 billion. In his last three years in office he ran budget surpluses totaling $430 billion. The Clinton legacy: eight years in office and a $130 billion surplus.
George W. Bush inherited a budget surplus, ran one his first year, and then had seven years of budget deficits. His deficits were bigger than Reagan’s and bigger than his father’s – all the way up to $500 billion in his last year, 2008. His grand total for seven years of deficits and a lone year of surplus: deficit spending of more than $2 trillion. (Who said junior was an under-achiever?)
So can someone please explain to The Curmudgeon why Republicans are viewed as the fiscally responsible party?