George W. Bush: A "Big Government Tax-Cut & Spend Conservative?"

Friday, September 05, 2003 | 07:29 AM

The the era of big government is back, thanks to the Bush Administration.

That’s the conclusion of a Brookings Institute study. The Wall Street Journal reported that the think tank is releasing a study Friday which found that the “number of full-time employees working on government contracts and grants has zoomed by more than one million people since 1999, bringing the overall head count to more than 12.1 million as of this past October.”

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The report finds that the growth is happening entirely outside traditional civil-service hiring channels. "The Bush administration is overseeing a vast expansion of the largely hidden federal work force of contractors and grantees," according to Paul Light, the author of the report, who directs the Center for Public Service at Brookings.

Mr. Light's study contends the expansion is both stealthy and permanent. The use of grant and contract employees (rather than civil servants) "reflects a deliberate strategy by both Congress and the president to disguise the true size of government."

A growing number of conservatives dismayed about such growth under the Republicans' watch:

But representatives of two conservative think tanks said the findings dovetail with their own studies of government growth under President Bush. Stephen Moore, president of the Club for Growth, and Daniel Mitchell, a Heritage Foundation economist, argue that government was much better contained under President Clinton, in part because Mr. Clinton faced a skeptical Republican Congress.

"We are now seeing the biggest expansion in government since Lyndon Johnson was in the White House," Mr. Moore said. "It is pretty much an across-the-board mushrooming of government. We have the biggest education, foreign aid and agriculture bills in history, and bigger expansions are on the agenda."

Mr. Mitchell called the growth of government under Mr. Bush "very troubling for conservatives." He calculates that domestic spending is up about one percentage point of gross domestic product. "That is quite discouraging," he said, "particularly since we made so much progress under Clinton in reducing the size of government."

This report leads me to conclude that the adminstration has misled the left, right and center. Discuss.

URLs:

Fact Sheet on the New True Size of Government (Overview)

Full report (PDF)

Despite Bush's Credo, Government Grows
By Tom Hamburger, Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal
September 4, 2003
http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB106262519812480700,00.html

The Brookings Institution
http://www.brook.edu/default.htm

Friday, September 05, 2003 | 07:29 AM | Permalink | Comments (16) | TrackBack (2)
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Comments

Well, Bush has only been in office since 2001, so any trend starting in 1999 isn't all his. And, of course, we're fighting a massive war at the moment, which is rather expensive. I don't disagree that he's contributed to an expansion of the welfare state, but most of the spending is for the GWOT and related nation-building activities. Indeed, the chart you supply shows that quite clearly--it's even more pronounced than I'd have guessed.

And the use of grant and contract employees rather than permanent bureaucrats is a good idea if the increase is to be temporary, no?

Posted by: James Joyner | Dec 30, 2003 10:58:57 PM

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