Shaking My Head At The Data

I was over at Coyote Blog the other day when I saw a discussion surrounding this chart:

Coyote was taking Kevin Drum to task for his analysis of the data described by this chart.  Specifically:

Republicans like to say we have a spending problem, not a taxing problem, but the evidence doesn’t back that up. Total government spending didn’t go up much during the Clinton era, and it’s actually declined during the Obama era. In the last two decades, it’s only gone up significantly during the Bush era, the same era in which taxes were cut dramatically.

What we have isn’t a spending problem. That’s under control. What we have is a problem with Republicans not wanting to pay the bills they themselves were largely responsible for running up.

I looked at the chart and had to go, “Huh, he might have a point.”  Then I read Coyote’s complaint:

This is the total of all government spending at all levels, not just Federal.  In fact, had he shown Federal spending (likely more appropriate given he is trying to draw conclusions about Presidents), the numbers would have continued up over the last few years.

How can Drum really make an argument dealing specifically with federal implications and use data that includes state and local spending?  If he wants to discuss federal expenditures he should use data that describes ONLY federal expenditures.  Not data that gives Obama credit for local fiscal restraint.

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