Which combination of President and Congress spent the most?

We’re probably getting tired of this topic (I am), but many people requested that we look at the same data but take into account the influence of Congress.

This is the same inflation-adjusted (to 2008) average yearly per capita spending, broken by Presidential, House, and Senate Parties (see yesterday’s post for a more complete description). There are 8 possible combinations (D President, R House, R Senate, and so on). These are arranged from highest to lowest average spending.

President Senate House Outlay
R R D $8300
R D D $6000
R D R $5600
D D R $5500
D D D $4200
R R R $2000
D R D $1000
D R R none

That chart is kind of busy, so here is the same thing condensed by Presidential party and whether the House and Senate are completely aligned (all parties the Same), or one house the opposite (Mixed), or both houses opposed (Opposite).

I’m not sure how much we can read into this: these charts obviously ignore the time series nature of the data, the changing definitions of what a “R” and “D” mean. The strongest argument is those “R”s and “D”s are just letters to put after a name.

President Support Outlay
D Same $4200
D Mixed $1000
D Opposite $5500
R Same $2000
R Mixed $5900
R Opposite $6000

Still no GDP. Will get to it if I can.

10 Comments

  1. According to the chart, and adding some flawed reasoning, if you want to reduce spending, have uniparty control of government. Yeah, right.

    As noted previously, the biggest determinant of spending is time, whose surrogate is gdp. It would be interesting to look at presidential/party effects while controlling for gdp. That is, which presidents/party did more/less to controll spending against the inexorable increase simply due to increased wealth.

    Finally it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the 16th Amendment was the game changer. Once the income tax became available, there was no heading the march of spending to its ultimate singularity.

  2. According to the chart one conclusion is obvious: There is no correlation whatsoever between party and spending. Any conclusion taken otherwise only show the political bias of the referred thinking person.

    I didn’t understand what Oblige said. Do you really mean that uniparty means more spending, or does the “Yeah Right” have more meaning than the rest of that sentence? Because I read it completely otherwise.

    Either way, it’s a mistake to infer from this chart that this democratic wave will spend less than the last eight years.

    It’s the problem of trying to detect patterns in simple quantifiable things to understand complex and chaotic things, like politics and economics. It’s a shame that people so skeptic at attempts to detect climate patterns try to nevertheless make the same thing in economics. To reduce politics to clichés (like reps spend less than dems, or dems wage more wars than reps) should be obviously ridiculous to any intelligent man. Only the peasants, so to speak, believe in that Fox-like non-sensical black and white polarized fairy tale world.

    In the meantime, the U.S. keeps going with the least differentiated political parties in the world, and with the most polarized debates, culture wars and full blown hatred and contempt towards one another.

    All too human, I guess.

  3. I’m willing to be the boob who puts up a facile ex post explanation for some of this.

    It makes sense to me that D-R-D would be optimal(ly low). Reason being that the Republicans are really a coalition party, and coalition parties will tend to be disciplined only when they’re clearly in opposition and not in government. (When they’re in government, they have to negotiate with themselves to get anything done, and this usually involves greasing a lot of palms.)

    The Senate is sort of the optimal place from which to run a seige-mentality opposition party. That’s because the numbers are small, so the party can more easily coordinate, and also because the Senate functions something like a review board. Its job is sort of to filter through House bills, kill the inappropriate ones, retain and alter the ones it likes, etc. If it has a seige mentality (which it would if Republican and surronded by Dems), then it’s likely to be cantankerous and just throw up roadblocks.

    Of course, I realize that in reality the data point here is probably more an artefact of the historical rarity than anything. Probably this configuration just hasn’t happened all that often, and in any case not recently.

  4. Briggs,
    Why wasn’t the last line of the first table D. R. R. None?
    Luis:
    “You’ve got to accentuate the positive,
    Eliminate the negative,
    Latch on to the affirmative,
    Don’t mess with Mister In-Between”

    “To reduce politics to clichés (like reps spend less than dems, or dems wage more wars than reps) should be obviously ridiculous to any intelligent man. Only the peasants, so to speak, believe in that Fox-like non-sensical black and white polarized fairy tale world.”
    Yes, it seems that the president doesn’t have autonomy to do their worst.

    Why was it so terrible a thought that Palin might have been in the driving seat? How much control did Bush have?

  5. How much control did Bush have?

    What a comfortable thougth that one of yours, to elect someone who will be nothing but a facade. I am sorry if I sound old fashioned if I sound indignated at that possibility, and while I don’t believe a perfect democracy is something we have at the moment, I wouldn’t trade it for what you are subscribing.

    There is more than meets the eye here. If you are willing to subject yourself to the kind of regime where elected representatives are decreasingly in control of the Republic, why call it a democracy? If you are willing to respect someone who is in the authority chair but you know that he hasn’t any power whatsoever, what separates him from a clown, and you from a bought clapping audience?

    I, in my obsolete fashion, am not ready to enter the realm of 1984.

  6. How much control did Bush have?

    Too much according to my nice little thesis graph of mine where I place “power” in inverse proportion with “stupiddity”, and where Bush just goes off the chart.

    It’s peer reviewed, so don’t argue with me. It’s proven.

  7. Lus,

    “don’t argue with me”!
    stop disagreeing!
    I reckon if you met G. Bush, the man, you’d be amazed how different he was compared with the impression we are encouraged to form. You’re joking though really aren’t you?
    About the puppet idea of a democratic leader; The US political system seems set up not to allow one man to have too much control. I agree with your sentiment about why bother voting if you’re voting for a face, but then why did it matter about Obama? You seemed very concerned about a certain lady who might, in a pink fit, press a button that was red.
    I would suppose that a good leader can motivate and influence people in many ways that would transcend party politics to a large enough degree in a way that would make it possible for things really to respond to their vision. This sort of leader is rare though, and it is not necessary for such an individual to be brain of Britain (or anywhere else). It takes other qualities to lead; ones that cannot be learnt in a book, even a 6000 year old one.

  8. I reckon if you met G. Bush, the man, you’d be amazed how different he was compared with the impression we are encouraged to form. You’re joking though really aren’t you?

    No, I’m serious, I really did such thesis and it really was peer-reviewed. Of course, by “thesis” I mean coffee break talking, by “peers” I mean my friends and co-workers. They all agreed, thus it’s proven.

    Apart from the joke, I only ask you this: did you meet Bush? If not, how would you know that this man is not the joke that always seems to be? Because you hear people in the know that tell you otherwise? If it smells like a duck, if it looks like a duck, if it sounds like a duck, it’s probably a duck.

    You seemed very concerned about a certain lady who might, in a pink fit, press a button that was red.

    There’s a difference between voting for a guy who you know is going to be responsible and voting for a girl who you know is going to be irresponsibly voluntary. It’s a difference between an elitist and an ignorant wannabe. I think Sam Harris put it best in this analogy of one of her interviews:

    “Governor Palin, are you ready at this moment to perform surgery on this child’s brain?”

    “Of course, Charlie. I have several boys of my own, and I’m an avid hunter.”

    “But governor, this is neurosurgery, and you have no training as a surgeon of any kind.”

    “That’s just the point, Charlie. The American people want change in how we make medical decisions in this country. And when faced with a challenge, you cannot blink.”

    In the end, if you vote for the first, you’ll probably vote against your political ideal, but at least you are voting for someone responsible, if you vote for the latter, in the best case scenario, you’ll be voting for a facade-leader, destroying democracy, in the worst-case scenario, you’ll be voting for a irresponsible ignorant that will really decide things and bring about chaos in this world.

    I would suppose that a good leader can motivate and influence people in many ways that would transcend party politics to a large enough degree in a way that would make it possible for things really to respond to their vision.

    We have what we have. In this polarized media world, I even doubt that this is possible, and even necessary (or even desirable). But if anything, that’s clearly the anti-definition of Sarah Palin.

  9. Luis, (the misspelling was an error)

    “we have what we have”
    Yep,
    and” it is what it is”
    and “it won’t be what it won’t be”
    and “it might be what it might be”
    and “I am what I am”
    and “we are all what we are”

    Why disbelieve the hype if I haven’t met the man?
    Let me count the ways:
    I know that he has reached a very important position in world politics; this did not happen by chance or accident of birth. The argument its not what you know but whom you know can only take you so far.
    I find it odd that so many people believe him to be quite literally some sort of simpleton. If this were true, then it would be a sad indictment on US politics. I’m not ready to believe that the American political system is nonsense.
    There have been many times when a person’s reputation has not matched my impression on meeting. I expect you have had similar experience.
    Remember, also, the sources of most of the misinformation that’s been going about. Peddled by media tycoons. What’s in it for them? Think on that.

    My impression of Obama is that he could let the side down when it comes to international issues. His manner is presumptuous.
    “There’s a difference between voting for a guy who you know is going to be responsible and voting for a girl who you know is going to be irresponsibly voluntary. It’s a difference”
    Luis you are making a prediction again. You need to change the word “know” to “believe” if you are referring to Obama and Palin respectively.
    As for Sam Harris whoever she is, that is a made up scenario wherein Palin has been inserted as a clown about to operate on a child’s brain, apart from being in bad taste, it’s make believe, It’s satire.

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