UPDATE: I am not sure this chart accurately reflects the methodology of the MarketWatch piece, in particular the treatment of the 2009 Omnibus spending bill. In fact, it’s probably wrong. I apologize for that. But that does not change my fundamental point of disagreement which I outline here and here.
In a column on Tuesday, Rex Nutting of MarketWatch ran some budget numbers and concluded the following:
Almost everyone believes that Obama has presided over a massive increase in federal spending, an “inferno” of spending that threatens our jobs, our businesses and our children’s future. Even Democrats seem to think it’s true. But it didn’t happen. Although there was a big stimulus bill under Obama, federal spending is rising at the slowest pace since Dwight Eisenhower brought the Korean War to an end in the 1950s.
And here is Nutting’s graph:
The shocking, contrarian piece was widely circulated in liberal circles and was even cited on Wednesday by White House spokesman Jay Carney.
But there were a few problems with Nutting’s numbers. Nutting’s methodology assumes spending in the first year of a presidential term should be credited to the previous president. OK, fine. But he attributed a $410 billion spending bill in March of 2009 to George W. Bush even though it was signed by Barack Obama. Nutting also didn’t use inflation adjusted numbers.
But I did both of those and got wildly different results from Nutting, as seen in the chart at the top of this post. (Note: I looked at absolute spending as opposed to the rate of increase.)
My numbers show that spending under the ’10-’13 Obama budgets far outstrips spending by a generation of presidential predecessors. This should not be surprising since spending as a share of GDP under Obama is the highest in U.S. history outside of World War II.
We can disagree about whether all of Obama’s massive spending is a good idea or not. But we can’t factually argue about whether it happened or not. It did.
The Obama spending binge really did happen.