Fuzzy Math

Jesus Tapdancing Christ. I have seen this now in several places and it needs to fucking stop:

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.

Stop right there. If you’ve been on this site, you know that the “Hoover cut spending” thing is a complete myth. Hoover increased spending massively and doubled the debt during his Presidency. Roosevelt called him out as a socialist. So this writer is already starting from ignorance. But carry on:

• 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%.

You see what the problem is? FY2009 was not a Bush year. FY2009 was not a Bush year. FY 2009 was not a Bush year. The Democratic Congress did not pass a budget until March 12, 2009. Do you know who was President on March 12, 2009? It was not George W. Bush.

FY2009 also included the stimulus which this analysis now considers part of the baseline — exactly as conservatives warned would happen. Do you know who passed the stimulus? It was not George W. Bush.

You can blame Bush for TARP. But let’s remember that Obama voted for it, used it, expanded it. Two car companies got bailed out on that budget authority. Do you know who bailed those car companies out? It was not George W. Bush. Well, not the big bailout at least.

Look, I’m prepared to bash Bush with the best of them. But this is bullshit. If you’re going to use a baseline for Barack Obama’s spending, maybe you can use $3.1 trillion Bush originally requested. But you can’t use the final budget figures as a comparison. That’s simply cheating.

The author eventually, on page 2, gets around to this, admitting that, at minimum, Obama has increased spending 1.4% per year. But that too is deceptive since many of the Obama “tax cuts” were for people who don’t pay taxes. Moreover, we’ve been winding down two wars, which should have moved the budget closer to balance.

(The New York Times tried this stunt too, gaming the figure so that it looks like Obama has cut spending. Even then, they have to credit him with state spending cuts. I find that ironic since the point of the stimulus was to prevent state spending cuts, but … let’s not interrupt the Times when they’re in the middle of Democratic propaganda.)

Anyway, the idea that Obama has not increased spending is pure garbage. To the extent that he has controlled spending, it has been because of relentless pressure, faceoffs with the GOP and the winding down of two wars. His last two budget were rejected almost unanimously by Congress. He does deserve credit for winding down the wars. I’ll give that to him. But let’s not pretend he’s a model of fiscal restraint.

Comments are closed.

  1. Seattle Outcast

    CM will point out that you can indeed spend your way out of debt, all the current US financial problems are “Bush’s fault”, Obama walks on water, has a 13″ cock, and has not once wiped his ass with the constitution. Additionally, despite proof the contrary, Obama has presided over the greatest era of economic prosperity ever, as evidenced by all the government spending on green energy.

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  2. CM

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  3. Mississippi Yankee

    You see what the problem is? FY2009 was not a Bush year. FY2009 was not a Bush year. FY 2009 was not a Bush year. The Democratic Congress did not pass a budget until March 12, 2009. Do you know who was President on March 12, 2009? It was not George W. Bush.

    OMG are you and Ann Coulter joined at the hip? Not that it would be a bad thing but Dr. Wifey might object ;)

    It’s been breaking news all over MSNBC, liberal blogs, newspapers and even The Wall Street Journal: “Federal spending under Obama at historic lows … It’s clear that Obama has been the most fiscally moderate president we’ve had in 60 years.” There’s even a chart!

    CM, before you even fuckin start, argue against her FACTS not her persona OK?

    /hint: your not as entertaining when you become predictable, justsayin/

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  4. Mississippi Yankee

    Out of curiosity. Where did CM defend Nutting’s numbers?

    Out of curiosity WTF are you on about?
    Do you need your tummy scratched? Milk bone?

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  5. Kimpost

    1. Nutting writes an article claiming that Obama isn’t a big spender.
    2. Lady Coulter takes issue.
    3. You expect CM to go after Lady Coulter’s facts.

    I don’t think that he will. And even if I turn out to be wrong, wouldn’t it be better to wait for it?

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  6. CM

    CM, before you even fuckin start, argue against her FACTS not her persona OK?

    When the fuck have I ever argued against her, or anyone’s, ‘persona’?
    For some reason you seem to have me confused with many others here. Seattle Outcast appears to be a permanent troll now. I’m far more interested in the details/substance. But most of the time it’s a complete waste of time because posters will instead start humping my leg and frothing at the mouth like rapid dogs. Some of you are on permanent troll

    /hint: your not as entertaining when you become predictable, justsayin/

    Pffffft. As if you guys are unpredictable in any way shape or form.
    What, we’re all expected to be hypocrites just to be less predictable?

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  7. CM

    The main point, to me, isn’t arguing in the margins about how much of the 2009 spend should be attributed to Obama. That just looks like a distraction from the fact that Nutter’s second graph bears no relationship whatsoever to the right-wing rhetoric that Obama’s stimulus was astronomical and that he’s also spending-like-there-is-no-tomorrow. Romney has said “”Since President Obama assumed office three years ago, federal spending has accelerated at a pace without precedent in recent history.” If it was so bad, and if he is such a huge spender, surely the second graph would have seen a steepening of the trend. But if you look at the trend from 2002 to 2008 and keep that trend line going, it’s way above the 2012 and 2013 total). So the trend has reduced EVEN WITH Keynesian stimulus spending.
    Also, I keep being told that the Keynesian stimulus etc is just business as usual for people like Obama. I’ve lost count of the times I pointed out in an argument with Alex that the stimulus and the Keynesian approach was about trying to stem the worst of the bleeding while attempting to get out of a huge hole. However that was always completely ignored. And yet now, in an effort to try and make Obama look bad, it IS a one-off. WTF?

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  8. Miguelito

    I think the bigger problem with this fuzzy math is that the budgets originated in the democratically controlled congress since the FY2007 year basically (Or at least 2008+). Sure Bush didn’t veto them, but the spending increases that even the year by year graphs look at show there was a pretty large jump in 2008 and then 2009. Both of which Obama is at least partly responsible for since he voted for them as a member of congress himself (AFAIK at least).

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  9. CM

    WTF, they’ve removed the second graph (the one called ‘Federal spending flattens under Obama’). However it comes up as the second result if you do a Google image search for “Obama spending binge never happened”. Weird.

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  10. Mississippi Yankee

    When the fuck have I ever argued against her, or anyone’s, ‘persona’?

    Let’s pretend, for a moment, that the above quote isn’t a disingenuous retort. Let us further remember that within the past week I accused you of linking to left-wing opinion site and the next day you attempted to call in to question two sites I had used as being right-wing sites.

    My comment about arguing against her FACTS was just a continuation of our original scrimmage.
    Kapish?
    I’m still at a lost as to what set off your little dog.

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  11. CM

    Let’s pretend, for a moment, that the above quote isn’t a disingenuous retort.

    You’ve lost me. I try way harder than anyone else to stick to facts, to play the ball and not the man. I do get sucked in occasionally though. I’m only human. I don’t often go looking for it though, unlike others.

    My comment about arguing against her FACTS was just a continuation of our original scrimmage.
    Kapish?

    It doesn’t really work though. As you rightly point out, I highlighted your sources because you had a go at mine. If what you claimed about my sources was true (which it isn’t – as I explained, I don’t link to opinion pieces and claim opinion as fact), you could be shown to be no different.
    I don’t care where any argument or facts come from. I’m happy to judge them on their merits. Not sure why you’ve got it in your head that the opposite is true.

    I’m still at a lost as to what set off your little dog.

    Presumably he sees how lame the misrepresentation and personal attacks are.
    Oh I see, sorry, you’re attacking his ‘persona’ as a joke to make your point.
    Well played.

    Sullivan’s latest on this is here.
    http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2012/05/if-you-want-another-debt-and-spending-binge-vote-gop-ctd.html

    He quotes Kilgore:

    I hardly think refusing to cut automatic stabilizer spending (the main areas of domestic spending increase since 2009), particularly for safety net programs where increased spending is a matter of higher enrollments by people in need rather than higher benefits, is analogous to buying a new car every year. … Pethokoukos also doesn’t mention that a recession depresses GDP, making spending (which is affected both by population growth and by higher demand for public services) a higher percentage even if nothing else happens.

    And then says:

    That last massive lie is at the core of Romney’s political strategy. By removing that context (which is like talking about the sinking of the Titanic without mentionng the iceberg), Romney is knowingly arguing that the spending and debt levels of the last three years were some kind of choice by a president who just loves to strangle the US economy by spending much more money than we have. But the only president who made that choice was George W. Bush – by crippling revenues, even as he fought wars with no budgets and new entitlements with no end (Medicare D), rendering us bankrupt even as we desperately needed a rainy day surplus to fight the depression.

    Obama did not have a serious choice; he had a fate. That fate was to pick up the pieces of the most catastrophic presidency in modern times. The final bouquet – after emptying the public coffers with no serious boost to employment, profits or growth – was the financial collapse, which both shrunk the economy, decimated revenues to 50 year lows, and automatically increased spending for the unemployed and poor in desperate need of help. Once you account for that – and the Nutting graph indeed shows that this was baked in the cake by the time Obama was elected – Obama has been, like most modern Democrats, far more fiscally conservative than any modern Republican.

    Now you could argue that Obama should have let the auto industry go fully bankrupt, allow the economy to head into deflation and depression without any fiscal stimulus to counter, cut the unemployed off at the knees – and we would be Greece today, underwater in a deepening and self-reinforcing depression. Can you imagine what Romney would have said about Obama’s record then?

    And yes, as Suderman notes, the real criticism should be focused on the absence of any long-term deal on entitlements, defense, taxes and spending – a deal that would do a huge amount for business confidence. But seriously: if one side simply refuses to put any serious revenue increases on the table at all, who’s really preventing that effort?

    There are legitimate issues to debate with respect to the future in this election. But the caricature of the last three years, the knowing lies that interweave with this false narrative, the attempt to describe a pragmatic, sane and successful president as somehow unqualified to tackle this mess – when the US economy has fared better in this period than much of the West – are deceptions, exploiting pain. I’m sick of them, and the cynicism they represent.

    Please note that this is an opinion from someone else. To be clearer, my name isn’t Andrew Sullivan. The best thing to do is to break this down and explain why it’s complete hogwash, not call me a fucking retard. I might agree with your breakdown. It’s not a given that I won’t.

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  12. Hal_10000 *

    Romney has said “”Since President Obama assumed office three years ago, federal spending has accelerated at a pace without precedent in recent history.” If it was so bad, and if he is such a huge spender, surely the second graph would have seen a steepening of the trend.

    I agree with this point. Spending has leveled off the last couple of years, thanks largely to the end of the wars. It bears pointed out that Obama’s budget proposal *did* have significantly higher spending and it was the GOP that forced his hand.

    One other point I’m getting tired of is deficit projection that label much of the budget shortfall as being the fault of the Bush tax cuts. The analysis is accurate but the nomenclature is wrong. Obama had two years to end the tax cuts. He didn’t even have to do anything. But he extended them in 2010 and is likely to again in 2012. At the very least, you have to call these Bush/Obama cuts.

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  13. Xetrov

    That’s a bullshit chart if ever I’ve seen one. All Military spending (including non-descretionary) is lumped under Bush, but Obama is given a complete pass for his 3.5 years in office nevermind the $680+ billion spent on the standard Defense budget in 2010 alone. Doesn’t even mention Obamacare costs. Ignores the HERA 2009 alterations signed by Obama. And probably a hundred other things the chart is missing. Nevermind the fact that the reason the numbers are hard to define under Obama is that the Democrats have failed to pass a budget in three years.

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  14. Xetrov

    I wonder if he could include some of these Obama costs in his chart.

    Amazingly, Obama has declared that all the projects received funding “based solely on their merits.” But as Hoover Institution scholar Peter Schweizer reported in his book, “Throw Them All Out,” fully 71 percent of the Obama Energy Department’s grants and loans went to “individuals who were bundlers, members of Obama’s National Finance Committee, or large donors to the Democratic Party.” Collectively, these Obama cronies raised $457,834 for his campaign, and they were in turn approved for grants or loans of nearly $11.35 billion. Obama said this week it’s not the president’s job “to make a lot of money for investors.” Well, he sure seems to have made a lot of (taxpayer) money for investors in his political machine.

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  15. Kimpost

    I don’t quite get it. Obama increased debt, but hasn’t been a record spender. Is that problematic to grasp? Does that make him less of a socialist?

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  16. Seattle Outcast

    But he HAS been a record spender: expansion of entitlement programs & bailouts are a good place to start looking. Obamacare, for example, is a massive increase in government spending.

    He’s also big on more government in your life combined with less economic & personal freedom.

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  17. Kimpost

    Ok, but even if you would put the entire stimulus on Obama, he still wouldn’t be as big a spender as it’s being portrayed.

    The deficit is another thing. And I suppose freedom is too (from your perspective, which I can understand).

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  18. Miguelito

    Obamacare, for example, is a massive increase in government spending.

    Which was deliberately written to essentially delay most of the costs until after the election.

    One other point I’m getting tired of is deficit projection that label much of the budget shortfall as being the fault of the Bush tax cuts.

    Plus they keep listing the cuts as a cost. That’s compete bullshit… taking less money from the people is NOT a cost. People don’t get to declare losing income as a cost, neither should the government. Yes it can add to a deficit and debt, but it’s still not a cost.

    Just like, only in government-speak is receiving more money, but less then originally desired, talked about as “massive budget cuts!!!”

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  19. CM

    I’d point out that this entire conversation is nonsense. So far, we haven’t mentioned the only fact that really matters, which is that the economy began to collapse in late-2008, and continued to crater through much of 2009. Or, as Donald Marron, director of the Tax Policy Center, puts it, “the real issue is that 2009 is an anomaly driven by crisis.”

    That there’s an implicit taunt in this debate just goes to show how blinkered our fiscal conversation has really become. It was proper that spending jumped in 2009. If the Ghost of Ronald Reagan had occupied the Oval Office, spending would have jumped in 2009. That’s just what happens when you hit a once-in-a-generation recession.

    It is proper that, since 2009, spending has remained high in order to support a badly wounded economy and help unemployed workers and struggling families. The question isn’t which president to blame for elevated spending in 2009 — the blame there goes to the financial crisis, though Republicans conveniently forget that in order to score points. The question is where should spending be now?

    ”Obama chose not to reverse that elevated level of spending,” writes Jim Pethokoukis, a blogger for the conservative American Enterprise Institute, “thus he, along with congressional Democrats, are responsible for it. Only by establishing 2009 as the new baseline, something Republican budget hawks like Paul Ryan feared would happen, does Obama come off looking like a tightwad. Obama has turned a one-off surge in spending due to the Great Recession into his permanent New Normal through 2016 and beyond.”

    That last line, by the way, isn’t true. Obama’s budget plans to bring spending down to 22.5 percent of GDP in 2016 — which is about where it was in the Reagan years, and our demographics are worse now than they were then. But Pethokoukis’s broader point is correct: The real debate here is what spending should have been in 2010 and 2011.

    The Obama administration wanted it to be higher. After all, unemployment rose through 2010, and remains high today. It has proposed a raft of additional stimulus bills since 2009. Republicans in Congress, however, refused to pass most of their plans. Properly understood, the fact that inflation-adjusted spending has fallen since fiscal year 2009 is the result of Republican obstruction in Congress. That Democrats are now crowing about these numbers — the DNC is e-mailing them around — and that Republicans are now viciously disputing them is an embarrassment to both sides. You could as easily imagine Democrats lamenting these numbers as evidence of our failed policies and Republicans celebrating them as evidence of their congressional successes.

    But Republicans don’t want to admit that they bear substantial responsibility for the economic policy of the last few years. If they did, then it would be hard to argue that the economy’s performance in 2010 and 2011 is all Obama’s fault. And the Obama administration doesn’t want to clearly say that we should have been spending more in recent years, even if that’s what they believe, and what they proposed, because it polls poorly. And so here we are.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/the-reality-behind-obama-and-bushs-spending-binge/2012/05/25/gJQAK8ItpU_blog.html?wprss=rss_ezra-klein

    Sounds about right.

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