NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Federal Per Capita Spending Has Fallen Under Clinton

January 25, 2000

Bill Clinton is the only post-war president who has reduced real spending per capita, according to a report for Congress' Joint Economic Committee.

  • Looking back at federal spending since 1950, adjusted for inflation and the increase in population, the JEC staff found that per capita federal spending fell from $6,163 in 1993, the first year of Clinton's presidency, to $6,111 in 1999, in inflation-adjusted 1998 dollars.
  • He did it, in a time of budget surpluses, by reducing spending on defense, while increasing spending on everything else.
  • The fall in defense spending under Clinton is part of a longer term trend in which defense spending fell from almost two-thirds of the federal total in 1953 to less than one-sixth today.
  • Defense spending -- in real per capita terms -- is now half what it was in 1953.

U.S. defense spending fell from $2,008 per person in 1953 to $1,011 in 1999.

Source: Tom Bethell (American Spectator), "Clinton's Surprising Legacy," Wall Street Journal, January 25, 2000.


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