On Those White House Claims That Discretionary Spending Has Declined

The folks at Cato chart the increase in discretionary spending since 2000. Daniel Gross catches the Washington Post quoting a claim from OMB’s Scott Milburn:

By working closely with Congress – and by threatening vetoes when they were called for – discretionary spending has been kept in check and there hasn’t been a need to veto a spending bill

And yet the same article tells us how fiscal conservatives are claiming just the opposite. The Cato chart shows discretionary defense spending rising from just under $300 billion in 2000 to just under $500 billion in 2005. It also shows an increase in discretionary non-defense spending over the same period that was equal to approximately 45%. To be fair, nominal GDP increased by 27% over this same period. Even as a share of GDP, discretionary non-defense spending has increased.