A few observations:
- We have had back-to-back big government presidents, with inflation-adjusted spending increasing by roughly $1 trillion since 2001.
- This chart should make partisans uncomfortable. Republicans claims to fiscal responsibility are undermined by the vast run-up under Bush II, while Democrats should acknowledge that the spending restraint during Clinton's term corresponded with solid economic performance. Furthermore, note that Reagan's spending record was mediocre, but in fairness he also had to contend with a Democratic-controlled Congress for much of his time in office.
- The trend in federal spending is inexorably higher. While spending has trended slightly downwards under Obama, this comes only after a massive spike in 2008-09, and spending remains at levels considerably higher than under Bush II (which itself was significantly greater than under Clinton). In the last 30 years federal spending has increased by roughly 170 percent even as population grew by less than 40 percent.