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2010-06-21 04:20:00 - By

Which President Has Presided Over The Largest Spending Increases Since 1961?

-- Black and white illustration of ex president Bill Clinton -- A number of people emailed after I posted “Some US Government Spending Statistics From 1960 to 2010” yesterday, asking if I could break down the numbers by president.

In 1961, the United States government spent a total of $97,723,000,000 (this works out to about $708,492,000,000 in inflation adjusted dollars).

In 2010, the United States government is expected to shell out somewhere in the neighborhood of $3.7 trillion.

How did spending grow so much in the past 50 years? Which presidents oversaw the largest increases in spending while they were in office? Which presidents oversaw the smallest increases in spending?

Let’s break it down:

Kennedy/Johnson (1961-1964)
Spending Grew by 6.5% YoY (Year over Year)
Spending Grew by 5.28% YoY (Inflation Adjusted)

Lyndon B. Johnson (1965-1968)
Spending Grew by 10.93% YoY
Spending Grew by 7.74% YoY (Inflation Adjusted)

Richard Nixon (1969-1972)
Spending Grew by 6.7% YoY
Spending Grew by 1.97% YoY (Inflation Adjusted)

Nixon/Ford (1973-1976)
Spending Grew by 12.85% YoY
Spending Grew by 4.44% YoY (Inflation Adjusted)

Jimmy Carter (1977-1980)
Spending Grew by 12.32% YoY
Spending Grew by 2.37% YoY (Inflation Adjusted)

Ronald Reagan, First Term (1981-1984)
Spending Grew by 9.62% YoY
Spending Grew by 3.46% YoY (Inflation Adjusted

Ronald Reagan, Second Term (1985-1988)
Spending Grew by 5.79% YoY
Spending Grew by 2.33% YoY (Inflation Adjusted)

George H. W. Bush (1989-1992)
Spending Grew by 6.75% YoY
Spending Grew by 2.24% YoY (Inflation Adjusted)

Bill Clinton, First Term (1993-1996)
Spending Grew by 3.1% YoY
Spending Grew by 0.31% YoY (Inflation Adjusted)

Bill Clinton, Second Term (1997-2000)
Spending Grew by 3.48% YoY
Spending Grew by 1.15% YoY (Inflation Adjusted)

George W. Bush, First Term (2001-2004)
Spending Grew by 6.41% YoY
Spending Grew by 4.02% YoY (Inflation Adjusted)

George W. Bush, Second Term (2005-2008)
Spending Grew by 6.82% YoY
Spending Grew by 3.4% YoY (Inflation Adjusted)

Barack Obama (2009-2012)
Spending Expected to Grow by 6.71% YoY (according to White House projections)
*inflation numbers not available


So, the three highest average Year over Year increases for a single presidential term belonged to:

Nixon/Ford, +12.85%
Jimmy Carter, +12.32%
Lyndon B. Johnson, +10.93%

The three highest Year over Year increases (for a single presidential term) AFTER accounting for inflation:

Lyndon B. Johnson, +7.74%
Kennedy/Johnson, +5.28%
Nixon/Ford, +4.44%

The three lowest average Year over Year increases (for a single presidential term):

Bill Clinton’s First Term, +3.1%
Bill Clinton’s Second Term, +3.48%
Ronald Reagan’s Second Term, +5.79%

The three lowest average Year over Year increases after adjusting for inflation (for a single presidential term):

Bill Clinton’s First Term, +0.31%
Bill Clinton’s Second Term, +1.15%
Richard Nixon’s First Term, +1.97%


The president who oversaw the smallest increases in government spending? Bill Clinton, and it’s not even close.

The president who oversaw the largest increases in government spending? After adjusting for inflation, Lyndon B. Johnson.

Source: Davemanuel.com - Some US Government Spending Statistics From 1960 to 2010

Source: Office of Management and Budget - Historical Tables

Filed under: General Knowledge

13 COMMENTS - What Say You?

Comment by Brian on October 23, 2010 @ 2:57 am

I just had a discussion today. Yes Bill Clinton presided over a lower increase in spending. He also had the opposition party in charge of the purse strings.


Comment by Jeff on October 26, 2010 @ 4:32 pm

Brian - and what is your reasoning behind the spending of George W Bush? It was the same "opposition" in charge of those same purse strings when Clinton was in office as to when W. Bush was in office. As much as you try to take the credit from Clinton & give it to the GOP congress are you going to place blame on the same GOP congress?


Comment by Mike on November 04, 2010 @ 4:43 pm

Can you break out spending YoY by congress to see if there's some truth to Brian's comment?


Comment by JAF on January 26, 2011 @ 1:37 pm




Comment by Dave Manuel on January 27, 2011 @ 3:30 am


What do you mean by "false"? These numbers came straight from whitehouse.gov, I just calculated the %s


Comment by Kevin Jackson on July 27, 2011 @ 7:43 pm

Does it account for Bush not having the wars on the books?


Comment by Dave Morris on September 06, 2011 @ 5:57 pm

Simply, one can not just look at spending. You have to also look at debt and GDP for balance, and then adjust for inflation and such. In which case, the GOP looks like the 'tax and spend' persona they claim they are so against - and the democrats look more like fiscal conservatives they supposedly are not. FYI -I'm an Independent.


Comment by RQuin on May 07, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

Source data (usgovernment spending.com) Obama 2009 to est. 2012 spending is up 33% vs Bush 2005 to 2008. Revenue is only down 7% the deficit is up 589% and the Fed. Debt is up 64% Forget year over year. Look at the total 4 years.


Comment by V Harris on June 27, 2012 @ 8:47 am

The presidential election is not the one we should focus on - but instead the senate and congressional elections and delegates we send to Washington that really control the purse strings.


Comment by justin on October 27, 2012 @ 12:16 am

RQUINN ,In 2001 one president handed the next one coming into office the first surplus in the history of our country, then that pres. in turn handed the biggest deficit to the next guy. .. Now that very basic fact , not even the statistic just this is what took place in general, you must want to ask yourself what took place in order for this all to occur?
with first surplus ever G. Bush decided it would be a perfect time then to make a drastic cut in taxes ( that was according to him) , what they didnt mention is the tax cuts turned out to be so slanted to the top income brackets it was the largest movement of money in the history of the world at once as 7 Trillion dollars was saved by the top 2% of american income earners. to fallow that G. Bush gave a break to drug companies that was another biggest in history and gave the drug companies straight up 6 trillion dollars in their pockets! then he past a ton of laws and repealled a ton of laws to remove oversight in all major industries and the marketplace , as he did this he allowed 3,000 americans to be killed and the pentagon get hit and two towers collapsed by a couple guys who flew UTURNS for an hour or two ...Then he used that day to enter into the two longest , costlious wars in history!.... finally it all caved in literally 1 month before the election. leading up to that point we were losing 725,000 jobs a month , 6 million lost in previous two years .
losing 3/4 million jobs a month
dow jones goes from 12,000 to 6,000
biggest financial institutions going bankrupt and we found out they were all crooked as could be benifiting from NO REGULATION!

Imagine the ! thing people finally put there foot down for was him trying to get social security to be put on the friggin market ! if he did get that our country would have ended as we know it sept 08- thank god

anyway quin ... i ask you wtf are you thinking trying to get on obamas case when ever single stat shows the economy has improved consistantly over the last four years and holy shit dude yes he spent a shitload everysingle economist in the country and everyone in washington agreed this money had to be spent or we would go into a full on depression. i cant believe how dumb so many are , and yes i could go on and on about dems to as i am not one , but wow are repubs just so straight out liars it is almost creepy they are allowed to say the things they do !

ex.) republicans; "we are the party of national security" .... ummm ok you just allowed the largest and most embarrassing attack in history happen to us , and the first strike on the main 48 ever in 300 yrs !


Comment by Motov on November 28, 2012 @ 5:28 pm

War of 1812,...Washington DC was attacked by British Warships, 200 years ago not 300.
We cannot spend our way out of a recession, Washington DC has been broke for decades. The Obama administration is by far the most corrupt in American History, No President has trampled the Constitution like Obama has. Almost 100% of what he says are lies.
I shudder to think what will happen in the next 4 years.


Comment by steve on December 30, 2012 @ 9:49 pm

Well i am not gonna get wrapped up in political debate but why not just get all the debt forgivin and start over they did it in biblical times i believe every 7 years yeah yeah i know brought the bible to the table maybe where it should be. Oh and i know this probably wouldnt work out especially for all those we are indebted to.When you cant pay your debt and your debtors come knockin what ya gonna do turn the country over or war?


Comment by The EZ1 on January 02, 2013 @ 12:29 am

@ motov - it surely will be better than what we endured with Bush. one wonders if we'll ever dig out of that hole


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