PRINCETON, New Jersey (CNN) -- As the budget debate heats up, Republicans are warning of socialism in the White House and claiming that Democrats are rushing back to their dangerous tonic of big government.
Speaking to the Conservative Political Action Conference, Rush Limbaugh warned that "the future is not Big Government. Self-serving politicians. Powerful bureaucrats. This has been tried, tested throughout history. The result has always been disaster."
On CNN, former Vice President Dick Cheney said he is worried that the administration is using the current economic conditions to "justify" a "massive expansion" in the government.
After the past eight years in American politics, it is impossible to reconcile current promises by conservatives for small government with the historical record of President Bush's administration. Most experts on the left and right can find one issue upon which to agree: The federal government expanded significantly after 2001 when George W. Bush was in the White House.
The growth did not just take place with national security spending but with domestic programs as well. Even as the administration fought to reduce the cost of certain programs by preventing cost-of-living increases in benefits, in many other areas of policy -- such as Medicare prescription drug benefits, federal education standards and agricultural subsidies -- the federal government expanded by leaps and bounds. And then there are the costs of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Federal spending stood at about $1.9 trillion in 2000, when Democrat Bill Clinton ended his presidency. In his final year in office, Bush proposed to spend $3.1 trillion for fiscal year 2009. President Obama's budget proposal for fiscal 2010 is $3.6 trillion.
Nor can Republicans blame a Democratic Congress for being responsible for these trends. Much of the expansion took place between 2002 and 2006, when Republicans controlled both Congress and the White House. The Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes was writing about "big government conservatism" back in 2003.
Two years later, the right-wing CATO Institute published a report noting that total government spending had grown by 33 percent in President Bush's first term, lamenting that "President Bush has presided over the largest overall increase in inflation-adjusted federal spending since Lyndon B. Johnson."
The article goes on to detail just how hypocritical the GOP has been in the last 50 years, when it comes to it's constant accusation of big government by the Dems.
The fact is that both parties spend what they don't have. Both parties are interested in increasing their own power and influence. The GOP just does a better job of lying to it's supporters about it's policies.