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US conservatives: consistently blowing the budget since World War II

Here’s an interesting thing, courtesy of Paul Krugman’s link to a piece by Bruce Bartlett (senior policy analyst under Reagan). In the context of describing Barack Obama as effectively being a conservative, Bartlett makes the argument that two Republican presidents were effectively liberals: Eisenhower and Nixon.

This is becomes particularly interesting when you combine it with a chart of the US national debt (from Wikipedia). Combining these two sources, since World War II every single liberal President has reduced the national debt, while every single conservative one has increased it. Here’s the chart:

It’s worth noting that his argument is that a sitting president must work within the situation they inherited. He’s not saying Obama is conservative by choice, nor Nixon liberal of his own free will. In other words, his argument is one of policy – that which is possible in the circumstances, rather than the long term or ideal vision of the president.

So there you go. Conservatives can only keep control of government spending when they are forced to follow liberal policies. And liberals only spend too much when dealing with the consequences of conservative folly.

That’s not me saying that as a liberal. It’s Bruce Bartlett, advisor to conservative icon Ronald Reagan.

Interesting, don’cha think?

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