Perry vs Romney: Both Big Spenders, History Shows…
As the media, and the Republican Party establishment, continue their attempt to make the contest for the 2012 GOP Presidential nominee a two person race between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, it is interesting to look at the fiscal records of these two candidates while they held office as Governors of Massachusetts and Texas, respectively. We’ll here look at a topic of great interest to the Tea Party set particularly, and Americans generally, in light of the current state of the United States federal government: given the US government now spends substantially more than it takes in (north of 40% of expenditures are made with borrowed money), how did these candidates fare on the issue of state spending while they were in charge?
The picture isn’t pretty:
- While Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney increased spending substantially: when Mr Romney took office in 2003, state spending for that year totaled $26.27 billion. During his final year in office in 2007, state spending had ballooned to $34.69 billion. This represents more than a 32% increase in spending over a four year period;
- Meanwhile, during his time in office as Texas Governor since 2000, Rick Perry increased state spending from $44.19 billion in 2000 to $80.40 billion in 2010, an astonishing 81.94% increase;
- Keeping the time periods consistent, while Governor Romney was increasing Massachusetts’ spending by 32% between 2003 and 2007, Governor Perry increased Texas’ spending by 16.36% during that same period (from $59.05 billion in 2003 to $68.71 billion 2007).
Both of these candidates are running to be the Presidential candidate of the Republican Party, a party which ostensibly favors reduced government spending. That’s particularly the case for Tea Party supporters and libertarians, who favor a substantially reduced government role. Judging by their history, it is difficult to consider either of these candidates disciples of a “small government” philosophy: while in office they took a combined $85.32 billion in taxpayer-supported spending and turned it into $103.40 billion in spending.
Here’s a chart of Mr Perry’s and Mr Romney’s work:
What if we look at state spending as a function of state GDP? Here, Mr Perry fares significantly better than Mr Romney: Texas, under Mr Perry’s leadership, was unable to grow spending of taxpayer dollars as fast as their GDP was growing, whereas in Massachusetts, under Mr Romney, state GDP was unable to keep pace with Mr Romney’s spending of taypayer money. The share of state spending as a portion of GDP in Texas reduced from 7.14% to 6.03%, while Mr Romney increased state spending from 8.84% to 9.81% of all economic activity in the state (nearly one in ten dollars produced by economic activity is redistributed by the state government):
How does all this compare to the federal government during the same period? Federal expenditures as a percentage of GDP under George W. Bush decreased 4.58% between 2003 and 2007, from 8.77% to 8.37% (but by 2010 had risen 8.38% under President Obama, to 9.07%) :