By the Numbers

Why I like divided government:

* Overall spending: 2001 (President Clinton’s final budget year) $1.864 trillion; 2002 $2.011 trillion; 2003 $2.157 trillion; 2004 (estimate) $2.305 trillion.

* Overall Bush spending increase, 2002 through 2004: $441 billion, or 23.7 percent.

* Last three-year period when overall spending growth was that fast: 1989 through 1991, 24.3 percent.

* Overall Clinton spending increase, 1994 through 2001: $454 billion, or 32.2 percent.

Note that third item. What is it about administrations named Bush, and huge increases in discretionary spending? Bush 41, you could argue, had an excuse — the Democrats who controlled Congress had him over a barrel. Bush 43 has no excuse, since war and security spending account for less than half the increase.

There’s more:

* Overall discretionary spending: 2001 $664 billion; 2002 $735 billion; 2003 $846 billion; 2004 $873 billion.

* Overall discretionary spending increase under Bush, 2002 through 2004: $209 billion, or 10.5 percent annually.

* Overall discretionary spending increase under Clinton, 1994 through 2001: $141 billion, or 3.4 percent annually.

Now, defense spending (which is considered “discretionary,” for reasons stupid enough to require at least two double martinis) is up about a third — which, as I noted before, is less than half the total increase. And you can’t blame the so-so economy, either, since unemployment benefits don’t fall under the discretionary ledger.

Numbers don’t lie: The Republicans are trying to buy electoral dominance. I resent that, and you should, too.