However, discretionary spending growth averaged 11% year over year through the Reagan years. Thats not fiscal conservatism.
Year over year discretionary spending growth averaged 3% during the Clinton years. Once you figure in inflation and population growth, that amounts to a reduction in the fiscal size of government over in the Clinton era. Clinton certainly was not a fiscal conservative, but comes far closer to being one than Reagan ever did. Had Bush Sr. not raised taxes, discretionary spending not been curbed in the 90s, and taxes not raised again in 93, we would have been insolvent by 2000.
When Reagan took office, federal public debt was 34% of GDP. When he left office it had exploded to 55% of GDP. In terms of economic growth, the 1980s lagged both the 1960s and the 1990s. So despite the exploding deficits, economic growth at the time was not that remarkable. Reagan's legacy is that he hastened the end of the Cold War. That will mark him down in the history books as having a successful presidency. However trying to portray him as a fiscal conservative is nothing but trying to polish a turd. Carter, Clinton, Bush Sr, Nixon, and Eisenhower all did a better job of curbing the growth of government than Reagan did.