The Internet is my friend. Data can hammer beautiful fictions into dust faster than you can say “bullshit detection” and the Internet is awash with data. It took no time at all to find a chart with the number of employees in the Federal government from 1962 to 2010. The source, the OPM, is reasonably sound. The OPM isn’t known to cook numbers particularly outrageously. Also, the chart included uniformed military as well as executive/legislative/judicial branches. Good.
I’ve no idea why the chart began in 1962 but it was ideal; enough to cover a long span without not stretching so far back that I’d have to grapple with the great depression and WWII. I wished it went to 2012 but at least it covered a smidge of the current rainbow in chief. I was more interested in what I’d said about Reagan anyway. (I had declared that there were more Federal employees when Reagan was done than when he started. Had I skated on thin ice? If I was wrong I was due for a verbal thrashing and the forced shameful admission that I was completely incorrect. I might be flogged.)
What fun to look at actual numbers. Facts are a meat cleaver against talking points. (That’s why we’ve had an election season largely devoid of them.) I dumped the table into a spreadsheet and spent a whopping 2 minutes assigning each year to a president. As with all number crunching, there were details. New president take over in late January. We do this because… well I’ve got no idea but I wish it was January 1st. Plus Kennedy got shot on a day that’s not December 31st. Nixon was also rude enough to resign in the middle of the damn year. Oh well, neither event changed the party of the sitting president. I simply made units of a year and rolled with it. In the long term, a month or two is irrelevant.
Then, because I’m a stud, I made a chart. Because I’m lazy, I didn’t make a pretty chart. Because I’m evil (and also it’s Christmas dammit), I’ll wait a few days to post the results.