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Letting the air out of the ‘big government’ belief

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A weekly presentation of downloadable charts and short analyses designed to graphically illustrate important economic issues. Updated every Wednesday.

Snapshot for February 16, 2000

Letting the air out of the “big government” belief

“Big Government” ain’t what it used to be. Much of the media unaccountably describes President Clinton’s recently proposed budget as “big.” But the fact of the matter is that, while the proposed spending represents an increase in some areas, spending actually declines as a share of gross domestic product in others. The net change is ultimately a decline in overall spending relative to GDP in each successive year, for the next 10 years, as illustrated in the chart below. Total outlays over the decade decline from the present (Fiscal Year 2000) level of 18.46% to 16.99% in 2010. Though not shown in the chart, it is also worth noting that taxes also decline in this period.

Source: GDP numbers from the Congressional Budget Office; outlays from the Federal Budget, FY2001.

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