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Basic facts left out of the spending debates

March 20, 2013

With the non-stop attention on spending, deficits and debt, the popular understanding seems to be that Obama is a big spender and we must endure radical spending cuts and deep austerity to get back on track. The facts don’t support that analysis.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) tracks the historical figures on spending, deficits, size of government. It is truly interesting reading. Here are the stunning size-of-government numbers that should inform our discussion:

2009  3.518T

2010 3.4516T (did spending go DOWN? Yes, yes it did)

2011 3.598T

2012 3.538T (Again!)

2013 3.553 T (projected)

No news organization is reporting these figures, which seem like important context for discussions of budgeting, spending, deficits and debt.

More context: no President, going back 40 years has held spending steady for five years. If Bush had held spending constant for HIS first five years he would have reduced the debt by 346 billion (assuming revenue didn’t change, which is a bit of a stretch – as all that borrowed money was a stimulus for the economy). If he had held spending constant for all EIGHT years – He would have reduced the debt by a total of 2.256T (and that leaves 2009 out of the discussion).

Over five years, spending is up 1% – less than inflation, less than population growth. Obama has, in essence, shrunk government.

Meanwhile, the economy has grown, in the aggregate by 12.2% (from $13.974T in 2009 to 15.682T in 2012 – nominal figures) – the result, beyond the steep decline in annual deficits, is a notable reduction in the size of government.

In Bush’s final budget year, government spending exploded to 25.2% of GDP. In 2013, government’s percentage of GDP is down to 22.2%. Those numbers are notable – as they are as low or lower than 6 of Reagan’s years in office. 

Beyond the numbers, the lack of reporting on these fundamental facts about our economy point to an amazing victory for the right wing’s takeover of not just right wing media, but media.


From → Economics, Political

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