Dan Mitchell, a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, explains in the video that the key variable is government spending as a share of GDP. This ratio shows
the burden of government relative to the productive sector of the economy. By this measure, both Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton successfully restrained spending and reduced the burden of government. Capping the
growth of domestic spending was the key factor.
Inflation-adjusted domestic spending increased at an average rate of less than one percent per year under Ronald Reagan, a rate much lower than the rate of economic growth. As a result, the burden of
domestic spending fell by 2.5 percentage points of GDP during the same period. Bill Clinton, meanwhile, was able to turn projected deficits into surpluses by holding the average growth of domestic spending to less
than three percent, while also capitalizing on the peace dividend from the end of the Cold War. By the time Clinton left office, government spending had been reduced by more than 3 percentage points of GDP.
Unfortunately, all of the progress made under these two Presidents has been erased by the profligate spending of Bush and Obama.
"Thanks to reckless spending by Bush and Obama, the current fiscal situation is dire," said CF&P Foundation President Andrew Quinlan,
"but the solution is easy. We need genuine spending restraint like America enjoyed during the Reagan and Clinton years," he added, "though it would be better if they actually cut spending."
"America's fiscal challenge is too much spending and deficits and debt are symptoms of that problem. This video shows that the only responsible approach is to limit spending, especially outlays for
domestic programs," said Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute. He concluded, "Since there have been successful Presidents from both parties -- as well as unsuccessful
Presidents from both parties -- this is not a partisan issue."
Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton both reduced the relative burden of government, largely because they were able to restrain
the growth of domestic spending. The mini-documentary from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity uses data from the Historical Tables of the Budget to show how Reagan and Clinton succeeded and compares their record to the fiscal profligacy of the Bush-Obama years.