Have you seen graphs like this that assert as “proof” that Obama is but a miser when it comes to spending?
Let’s compare this to strict spending:
Not looking similar? Let’s look at spending based on GDP from factcheck.org:
And a related article from Forbes:
Obama’s Economy Is Worse Than Bush’s, By Obama’s Own Numbers
President Obama is fond of saying that he came into office in 2009 when the economy was in free-fall, when we were suffering from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, among other clichés.
It’s time we took the President at his word, at face value. If the economy was in fact in a desperate state when Barack Obama became president in January 2009, then his economic policies should be measured, by common consent, from a low base.
What this means is that any improvement, any increment of economic growth that occurred after early 2009 will look especially good. This is so because of the nature of fractions. Any change is greater, as a percentage, over a low base (a low denominator) than over a high one.
In the four and a half years since the close of 2008, the American economy has grown at the inflation-adjusted rate of 1.6% per year.
Is this number, 1.6%, any good? Let’s compare it to that obtained by President Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush. From the beginning of 2001 until the close of 2008—the W. term—economic growth averaged 1.7% per year.
So W. wins by a nose. But as everyone knows, Bush came into office in the midst (as it turns out, at the peak) of one of the great historic booms in modern American economic history. From 1982 to 2000, the American economy expanded at a 3.7% rate. This included a big kick at the end of that run, 1995-2000, that measured 4.2% per year.
The base, the denominator, of the W. record, was therefore notably high. When we say that the Bush record of economic growth was 1.7%, greater by a hair than Obama’s current 1.6%, we should also account for the fact that the predicate of the comparison is highly differential. Bush started from a high base and came in low. Obama started from a low base and came in worse.
Now, to be sure, the rate of the federal government’s spending increase has slowed marginally from 2008—the year of TARP and all that. In the Bush years, federal spending in inflation-adjusted terms went up 3.9% per annum, more than double the rate of economic growth, astonishingly. Since 2009, federal spending has gone up at 2.5% per year, still well higher than the lame rate of GDP change.
1982-2000, when the economy was growing at 3.7%, real federal spending growth was notably slower, at 2.2% per year, and in the last big push of 4.2% GDP growth from 1995-2000, federal spending clocked only 1.6% growth.
What we have, then, in the twenty-first century, is a baker’s dozen years of pathetic GDP growth, quite in contradiction with the best of recent American traditions. We also have a government that is growing as much as it possibly can, also in defiance of those traditions.
Surely the reason that the Obama years have not seen even higher rates of federal spending growth is that the 2008 base—of government spending—was itself high. Furthermore, real-economy growth has come in so low since then that it is difficult for government to displace yet more of the private economy by spending.
President Obama “inherited” (another favorite word of the president’s enablers) a low GDP base and did terribly with it, well worse in comparison to his much-maligned predecessor. He inherited a high government spending base and still managed to increase that number at a rate 50% above general growth. In a rational world, we’d stifle such a failure from still having access to the controls.