We’ve all seen or heard about the Market Watch piece by Rex Nutting:
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 the graphs that follow made it through Facebook like a wildfire:
Pretty startling. If true, and Politifact says it mostly is, it paints a significantly different picture than most people have come to accept. And to be sure, there have been some herculean efforts to point out that Nutting, Obama and Politifact may not be explaining the whole reality. For example, the stimulus is charged to Bush but the repayment of that stimulus is credited to Obama. At the very least, the two actions should be charged to the same guy, either one seems fair. Then there’s the fiscal activities that took place during Bush’s fiscal year but that Obama passed. Those should not be given to Bush but rather to Obama.
However, there’s been something gnawing at me during this whole debate and until I read a piece this morning by Dan Mitchell.
He makes a great case that while Obama IS a big government big spender, it’s not as if the Republicans are innocent.
In a post last week, I explained that Obama has been a big spender, but noted his profligacy is disguised because TARP outlays caused a spike in spending during Bush’s last fiscal year (FY2009, which began October 1, 2008). Meanwhile, repayments from banks in subsequent years count as “negative spending,” further hiding the underlying trend in outlays.
When you strip away those one-time factors, it turns out that Obama has allowed domestic spending to increase at the fastest rate since Richard Nixon.
I then did another post yesterday, where I looked at total spending (other than interest payments and bailout costs) and showed that Obama has presided over the biggest spending increases since Lyndon Johnson.
While I tend to believe those numbers, I also acknowledge that I am most certainly bias and at some point, spending is spending. But what really caught me was what came next:
Looking at the charts, it’s also rather obvious that party labels don’t mean much. Bill Clinton presided during a period of spending restraint, while every Republican other than Reagan has a dismal track record.
President George W. Bush, for instance, scores below both Clinton and Jimmy Carter, regardless of whether defense outlays are included in the calculations. That’s not a fiscally conservative record, even if you’re grading on a generous curve.
Arguing about the exact details of Obama’s record may be great fun for those of us interested in the “Inside Baseball”, but the fact is that we really need to focus on limiting the growth of government, WHOEVER is in office. It does us, or the country, no good to yell and shout and stomp our feet when Obama spends like he does only to look the other way when republicans do the same.
We need to reduce the size of government. Period.