Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Tea-Publicans have a one note agenda: cut spending. They bang that one note on the keyboard like a chicken pecking at a piano. Every speech, every press release, every op-ed, and every interview features identical talking points about the "explosion of out-of-control government spending" during the Obama era.
There's GOPropaganda, and then there is reality. The spending surge that didn't happen:
Matt Yglesias flagged this chart showing the trajectory of total government spending at the federal level, and I added a nice, big arrow to point to the Obama-era spending (the gray areas reflect recessions). Matt explained, "[T]aken as a whole, consolidated government spending -- federal, state, and local -- simply hasn't surged. You can take the beginning of the recession or the beginning of the Obama administration or whatever you like as your starting point and it still hasn't happened."
That is not, incidentally, good news. After the Great Recession, the nation needed significant public investment to create jobs and boost economic growth. With interest rates at ridiculously low levels, the responsible thing to do was borrow like crazy and spend a lot more. Additional investments would mean lower unemployment and a faster, more robust recovery.
But policy prescriptions and Keynesian economics notwithstanding, the facts are the facts: every time Republicans whine incessantly about President Obama spending like there's no tomorrow, they're simply wrong.
What's more, Bloomberg News published a fascinating item today providing some useful historical context: "Federal outlays over the past three years grew at their slowest pace since 1953-56, when Dwight D. Eisenhower was president."
Steve Benen follows up today in The imaginary spending surge, redux:
We talked yesterday about how demonstrably wrong Republicans are when they accuse President Obama of dramatically increasing government spending. The chart showing government expenditures over the last half-century tell an important tale.
Kevin Drum did a nice job taking this one step further, publishing a chart that breaks this down by president over the last 20 years.
Those who continue to believe Republicans support fiscal restraint while Obama supports out-of-control government spending just aren't paying close enough attention. As Kevin added, "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."
Paul Krugman had some related thoughts The Non-Surge in Government Spending on this yesterday -- including some additional charts -- noting that spending levels sometimes appear exaggerated when GDP growth slows and mandatory spending programs grow:
The fiscal debate in Washington is dominated by things everyone knows that happen not to be true. One of those things is the notion that we have a fiscal crisis, an assertion belied both by the low interest rates at which the Feds can borrow and by the fact that medium-term deficit projections really aren’t that alarming. Another is the notion that our current deficit is driven by a surge in government spending.
* * *
First, if the economy is depressed — if GDP is low relative to potential — the share of spending in GDP will correspondingly look high. Suppose that you have commitments to defense, to Social Security, to Medicare that are growing at rates consistent with the long-run growth in the economy; if the economy plunges and then takes a long time to get back to trend, those spending programs will temporarily account for a larger share of GDP, even if there hasn’t been any acceleration in their growth.
Second, there are some programs — unemployment benefits, food stamps, to some extent Medicaid — that tend to spend more when the economy is depressed and more people are in distress. And rightly so! You don’t want to take a temporary spike in UI payments after a deep slump as a sign of runaway spending.
So how can we get a better picture? First, express spending as a share of potential rather than actual GDP; we can use the CBO estimates of potential for that purpose. Second, keep your eye on the business cycle — and, in particular, on how spending is evolving now that a gradual recovery is underway.
So, let’s look first at a longish time series of total government spending as a share of potential GDP:
What you see is not a sustained upward trend: there’s actually a considerable fall during the Clinton years, reflecting in part falling defense spending, then a more modest rise in the Bush years, mainly reflecting spending on the War on Terror (TM), and finally a temporary surge associated with the financial crisis — but much of that surge has already been reversed.
Here’s a closeup on Bush’s last two years and Obama’s first four:
That was the spending surge that was.
Now, there’s still stuff out there that will, under current law, lead to rising spending: mainly an aging population plus rising health care costs. And some of that is already affecting spending trends. But the idea that we’ve had some kind of spending surge, and that current deficits reflect that surge, is just wrong, and distorts public discussion.
When is the last time a media villager ever stopped a Tea-Publican from spewing their bogus talking points and confront them with "Excuse me, but that is simply not supported by the facts," then question them on the facts that "President Barack Obama has signed into law approximately $2.4 trillion of deficit reduction for the years 2013 through 2022. Nearly three-quarters of that deficit reduction is in the form of spending cuts, while the remaining one-quarter comes from revenue increases." The Deficit Reduction We Have Achieved So Far | Center for American Progress.
Do you media villagers think you can do that? Is that too much to expect?