George W likes to pose as the Texas president – in the rough-hewn, rancher model of Lyndon Johnson.
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However, George isn’t actually a Texan – he was born in Connecticut, went to an East Coast prep school and to Ivy League colleges, and he summered in Kennebunkport at his family’s oceanfront estate. Nor is he a rancher, as Lyndon was. Yes, George bought a ranchette to boost his cowboy image when he decided to run for president, but this “cowboy” has no cattle and is even afraid of horses – that’s not quite a “tall-in-the-saddle” president like Johnson.
Yet, there is one area where George W has stood taller than the real Texas president: federal spending. LBJ was derided as a big-spending liberal, but he was tight-fisted compared to Bush. While George is now trying to pretend that he’s a small-government fiscal conservative, federal spending in his administration has grown by 5.3 percent a year, nearly a full point higher than the rate of increase in the Johnson years, and more than double the annual spending growth under Democrats Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.
Of course, the Bush White House takes no responsibility for anything negative, so it’s now trying to blame the billions of dollars that it’s dumping into his “war on terrorism” for distorting Bush’s spending numbers (maybe the Bushites don’t remember that LBJ had a war to finance, too, since so few of them actually served in it). But Bush spending is not just about his mismanaged wars. He has also hiked budgets in most agencies, with a disproportionate share of the increases going to privatization of government, corporate welfare, and right-wing ideological boondoggles.
So, now that we hear free-spending George W suddenly posing as Mr. Frugal and demanding that Congress hold the line on spending, remember that no president has spent more of your tax dollars and gotten so little for it as he has.
“Claims of frugality aside, Bush is biggest spender since LBJ,” Austin American Statesman, October 28, 2007