NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Congressional, Presidential Spending Compared

March 25, 1997

Congress outspent the White House in every administration from Gerald Ford's to George Bush's. But President Bill Clinton reversed that, with budget requests exceeding Congressional spending by $112 billion over the past four years, according to a published by the Institute for Policy Innovation by Mark Byrd and Stephen Moore.

  • Some $38 billion were tacked on to President Ford's 1976-77 budget requests by Congress, and $143 billion added to President Carter's 1978-81 requests.
  • During President Ronald Reagan's eight years in office, Congress spent more than he requested for a total of $209 billion in extra spending.
  • Congress added $112 billion to President Bush's budget requests during his four years.
  • The total excess federal spending between 1976 and 1992 was $485 billion -- during which period the federal government piled up $2.8 trillion in debt.

Roughly 17 percent of the increase in the national debt was a result of Congress spending more than presidents requested.

The researchers concluded that if Congress had approved all Clinton's spending requests made during his first term, the deficit in recent years would have been substantially higher, not lower as Clinton claims. The Congressional Budget Office says the Clinton budget will not balance in 2002, 2005 or ever. And the White House's fiscal plan would still leave a deficit of more than $100 billion five years from now.

Source: Stephen Moore (Cato Institute), "Risky Rush Toward Budget Dealmaking," Washington Times, March 25, 1997.


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