Herbert Hoover and Spending

I often read claims that President Hoover threw the American economy and people into the abyss of the Great Depression by reducing federal government spending: see here, here, here and so on.

As far as I can tell it is simply not true. While the President is not the only participant in regards to the budget, he certainly has some power. Indeed, there was some big spending under Hoover.

Year Nominal Billions 2010$
1929 3.127 39.87
1930 3.320 43.35
1931 3.577 51.31
1932 4.659 74.15
1933 4.598 77.12
Hoover 38.49% 77.90%
Comparison 47.04% 93.42%

Hoover was President from March 4 of 1929 through the same of 1933. Because the fiscal years during his time in office were July 1 of the previous year to June 30 of the numbered year, the budgets under Hoover are roughly 1930 to 1933. This means that under Hoover there was a 38.49% nominal increase to federal spending and a 77.90% real increase. When compared to the last Coolidge budget of 1929, federal spending was 47.04% higher in nominal terms and 93.42% higher in real terms.

That certainly isn’t a shrinking government.


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