Of all the falsehoods told about President Barack Obama, the biggest whopper is the one about his reckless spending spree. As would-be president Mitt Romney tells it: “I will lead us out of this debt and spending inferno.” 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. Government spending under Obama, including his signature stimulus bill, is rising at a 1.4% annualized pace — slower than at any time in nearly 60 years.
A few more thoughts:
1. As I point out in my original post, if Obama wins another term, spending—according to his own budget—would never drop below 22.3% of GDP. If that forecast is right, spending during Obama’s eight years in office would average 23.6% of GDP. That average is higher than any single previous non-war year in American history.
2. Did we all forget about this from March 2009 when Obama was at the peak of his political power?
Obama signed what he called an “imperfect” $410 billion measure to fund most government agencies through September. He used the occasion to criticize the more than 8,500 projects, costing more than $7.7 billion, that lawmakers inserted into the bill, and he declared that “this piece of legislation must mark an end to the old way of doing business and the beginning of a new era of responsibility and accountability that the American people have every right to expect and demand.”
3. Don’t the House Republicans get any credit for fiscal restraint the past two years?
4. Some have pointed out that one reason spending as a share of GDP looks so high is because of the big drop in GDP and slow recovery. Well, Obama could have cut spending or put in place pro-growth policies to boost GDP. Hey, either raise the bridge or lower the river. Every year the CBO lists all kinds of spending cut ideas. For instance, freezing discretionary domestic spending for a decade would save more than $1 trillion.
5. Did we also forget about the $2 trillion in Obamacare spending that doesn’t kick in until 2014?
Bottom line: Obama has been president for the past 3 1/2 years, two of those years with huge Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress. Instead of cutting spending or putting Washington on a long-term, sustainable fiscal path, he’s seen the burst of spending around the Great Recession as an opportunity to make those levels a floor rather than a ceiling.