Comparing Presidents, Federalism

Republicans will generally claim to be the party of economic growth, fiscal responsibility, small government, reducing the abortion rate, strengthening families, and for law and order.

But they also talk about state and local control as being a good thing – the idea is that the more decisions that get made closer to home and farther from Washington, the better those decisions will be. So this post looks at the share of federal dollars that are provided as grants to state and local governments – in other words, money in the hands of the federal budget that it decides to turn over to state and local control. Now, this is not something Democrats claim to care about, so one would assume Republicans will score very high at this, and Democrats will score very poorly.

Below are two graphs… the first shows grants to state and local as a percent of total federal outlays and the second shows grants to state and local as a percent of total GDP. (Data comes from the White House’s Office of Management of Budget Table 12.1.)

Here are summary tables to match…

Now, maybe its me and all, but I’m just not seeing Ronald the Reagan as being the patron saint of state and local control here. Ike, yup. Nixon/Ford… uh huh. Even Bush the elder seems to fit the mold of how most Republicans see themselves. But Reagan is the Washington establishment President. Perhaps its military spending, but then, one can spend on the military through the National Guard. I note that GW is safely ensconced in Democrat territory (pity its not also true of economic growth rates!), which makes him most similar to Reagan among Republicans in this regard. Also, if the last few years are any indication, GW’s emulation of Reagan is only increasing.

Next… I’m still looking for data on welfare… hopefully that’s the next post in the series.