From “Reagan Was A Keynesian,” Paul Krugman, NYT:
“They [the GOP] love, in particular, to contrast President Obama’s record with that of Ronald Reagan, who, by this point in his presidency, was indeed presiding over a strong economic recovery. … So let’s look at that comparison, shall we?
“For the truth is that on at least one dimension, government spending, there was a large difference between the two presidencies, with total government spending adjusted for inflation and population growth rising much faster under one than under the other. I find it especially instructive to look at spending levels three years into each man’s administration…compared with four years earlier, which in each case more or less corresponds to the start of an economic crisis. Under one president, real per capita government spending at that point was 14.4 percent higher than four years previously; under the other, less than half as much, just 6.4 percent.
“O.K., by now many readers have probably figured out the trick here: Reagan, not Obama, was the big spender.
“Why was government spending much stronger under Reagan than in the current slump? ‘Weaponized Keynesianism’ – Reagan’s big military buildup — played some role. But the big difference was real per capita spending at the state and local level, which continued to rise under Reagan, but has fallen significantly this time around.”