St. Reagan and Federal Spending

Cactus says that Lawrence Kudlow knows his data. Really? Then explain this:

Ben Stein says we can’t cut spending. But in fact, as a share of GDP, Ronald Reagan cut spending from about 23 percent down to 20 percent; Clinton and the Gingrich Congress lowered spending to 18 percent.

Our graph plots Federal spending from 1977 to 2000. Federal spending as a share of GDP was 21.0% in 1980 and 21.5% in 1981. It was 21.4% in 1989 and did not drop to 20% or less until 1998. Yes, during the 1982 (Reagan) recession, Federal spending as a share of (declining in real terms) GDP was 23%. Kudlow’s only correct statement is that Federal spending fell during the Clinton Administration reaching 19% of GDP by 2000. Kudlow forgets to tell his readers that the reason Federal spending fell was a substantial reduction in defense spending, which was attributed to that temporary “peace dividend”. Of course, the GOP tends to be in favor of more defense spending – not less.

Is Kudlow guilty of stupidity or mendacity? If Cactus is correct that Larry knows his data, he is counting on the proposition that his readers don’t – so he lie to them, which apparently he does with regularity.

Update: I’ve been caught in a bit of a typo – the 21.4% refers to 1988 whereas Federal spending/GDP was 21.3% in 1989. OK, fire away with the accusations that I “lied”!