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.
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.
Even hapless Herbert Hoover managed to increase spending more than Obama has. Here are the facts, according to the official government statistics:
• In the 2009 fiscal year — the last of George W. Bush’s presidency — federal spending rose by 17.9% from $2.98 trillion to $3.52 trillion. Check the official numbers at the Office of Management and Budget.
• In fiscal 2010 — the first budget under Obama — spending fell 1.8% to $3.46 trillion.
• In fiscal 2011, spending rose 4.3% to $3.60 trillion.
• In fiscal 2012, spending is set to rise 0.7% to $3.63 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of the budget that was agreed to last August.
• Finally in fiscal 2013 — the final budget of Obama’s term — spending is scheduled to fall 1.3% to $3.58 trillion. Read the CBO’s latest budget outlook.
Over Obama’s four budget years, federal spending is on track to rise from $3.52 trillion to $3.58 trillion, an annualized increase of just 0.4%.
What people forget (or never knew) is that the first year of every presidential term starts with a budget approved by the previous administration and Congress. The president only begins to shape the budget in his second year. It takes time to develop a budget and steer it through Congress — especially in these days of congressional gridlock.
The 2009 fiscal year, which Republicans count as part of Obama’s legacy, began four months before Obama moved into the White House. The major spending decisions in the 2009 fiscal year were made by George W. Bush and the previous Congress.
Republicans who aren’t in the Kool Aid Party Ignorance Patrol know enough to activate Keynesian remedies while plunging into the worst recession since the Great Depression. The crap about dribble-down economics may keep meatballs like David Stockman in royalties from book sales at Koch Bros. jamborees – but, when push comes to economic shove, keeping the unemployed from storming the Wall Street Bastille or the Congressional Clown Show requires doing things that actually work.
The Wall Street Journal – the owners of Marketwatch – have a responsibility to provide legit numbers to their subscribers as often as possible. A certain amount of Heritage Foundation agitprop is always icing on the reality cake and the transfer of power to Rupert Murdoch layered the frosting of rightwing lies a bit thicker. But, they can’t afford to dump reality altogether in the face of competition which ain’t about to disappear.
Republicans and the Mittster will crank up Rove-ish lies about these facts as much as they can. And don’t kid yourselves – they know they will be lying. They are part of that investing class the WSJ wants to keep as subscribers. They know this is the real deal. But, ideology is dearer to Tea Party Republicans than to an infomercial peddler offering you abs of titanium from 2 double-A batteries and a patented whirligig.