Plain Talk: Obama lowest spender since Eisenhower

2012-08-01T04:30:00Z Plain Talk: Obama lowest spender since EisenhowerDAVE ZWEIFEL | The Capital Times editor emeritus | dzweifel@madison.com madison.com

Here are some statistics that will drive some conservatives into a fit of apoplexy.

According to Marketwatch, the respected service provided by none other than the Wall Street Journal, President Barack Obama is actually the smallest government spender since President Dwight Eisenhower.

That hardly fits the perception created by the nonstop Republican echo chamber that Obama is spending the country into oblivion.

According to the figures provided by Marketwatch, the annualized growth of federal government spending on budgets for which Obama has been responsible is 1.4 percent. And that even includes the stimulus package that the president succeeded in getting passed in his first year in office.

Obama’s 1.4 percent compares to annual increases in Ronald Reagan’s first term of 8.7 percent and George W. Bush’s second term of 8.1 percent, two presidencies that added trillions to the national debt at a time when the country was enjoying good economic times. Bill Clinton’s first term, incidentally, averaged 3.2 percent per annum and his second term 3.9 percent.

Rich Ungar, a Forbes Magazine contributor, asks how then could Republicans have managed to vilify Obama as a “big spender”?

He answers himself that it might have something to do with the first year of the Obama presidency, when the federal budget increased a whopping 17.9 percent — jumping from $2.98 trillion to $3.52 trillion. But, he adds, you’d be wrong to attribute that big jump to Obama.

Every incoming president the first year is saddled with the budget signed by the president he is replacing. The 2009 budget — Obama’s first year — was the property of George W. Bush (remember tax cuts and two wars). It was in effect for four months before Obama was sworn in to office in January of 2009. Obama’s first budget was for 2010 and federal spending actually fell from that $3.52 trillion to $3.46 trillion, a drop of 1.8 percent.

Marketwatch shows that in 2011 it rose again to $3.6 trillion (4.3 percent). In 2012 total government spending is slated to increase 0.7 percent, to $3.63 trillion. For next year, the final one of Obama’s first term, it is slated to drop back to $3.58 trillion, a drop of 1.3 percent.

All of this underscores just how much the country’s economic woes — the problems set in motion during George W. Bush’s last year in the presidency — are adding to the national debt.

It isn’t Obama’s spending that is causing the deficits, it’s the drop in tax revenues caused by the Great Recession, which devastated the housing market, imploded the financial industry, and threw millions of Americans out of work. When people aren’t working, they’re not paying taxes. When folks don’t have the money to spend on goods, they’re not producing revenues needed to fund governmental programs and services.

And, of course, cutting taxes on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans, as Bush accomplished during his presidency, only added to the problem.

Yet Mitt Romney, largely funded by that 2 percent, is insisting that Obama has failed Americans by spending recklessly and stumbling as the leader of our economic recovery. Romney’s only plan, however, is to return to the days of extended tax cuts, less regulation of banks and businesses, and the discredited “trickle down” gimmicks that got us all into this terrible mess in the first place.

Like many so-called “small government” Republicans in the past, who irresponsibly increased the federal deficit when we were in a position to start paying it down (a la Bill Clinton), Romney hopes to convince Americans to forget the past, just as they’ve been able to sell the people

the idea that Obama is a big spender.

Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. dzweifel@madison.com

Copyright 2015 madison.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(18) Comments

  1. webmasterbigbrother
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    webmasterbigbrother - August 05, 2012 8:36 am
    yup i feel bad for all those who brought race into the discussion on spending habits of presidents...oh wait that was only you who did.

    who made you discussion board kumbaya instructor?
  2. Wis_taxpayer
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    Wis_taxpayer - August 04, 2012 8:41 am
    When someone with hatred in their heart and can't win an argument on the facts, they will always revert to attacking the messenger. No argument, no facts only talking points and most of the time not even that. Name-calling, race baiting, and belittling is all they have left. For all you posters who do your homework, provide facts and make an argument, you will never change their minds. You can't take the hate out of their heart, so pray for them, and pray that they find peace within themselves and that they discover that we are all in this together. It's all right to disagree, and no one wants to take that away from anyone. But there is no reason for name calling, or derogatory remarks to make a point. If you have a valid argument, present it... we will listen, again, we may not agree, but we will listen. We all feel sorry for the ones with so much hatred inside, it's a terrible way to go through life.
  3. Wis_taxpayer
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    Wis_taxpayer - August 04, 2012 8:39 am
    Earth to Dode, Earth to Dode, why not just quote FOX they NEVER LIE! I guess history is different in your right wing world. Bush doubled the national debt, did Obama? NO Bush created 3.1 million jobs over 8 years, Obama created 4 million job in just 3.5 years.

    Clinton paid down the national debt and handed Bush a $200,000,000.00 surplus, the largest in us history. Bush not only spent it, but handed Obama a massive debt.

    History has proven over and over that the tax cuts for the rich and trickle down economics DON'T WORK!

    Bush grew government, but ran on shrinking it!

    Same old lies and promises from the right, they want to sell us something they don't have, so they dress it up in a fancy bottle, but it's still snake oil!

    I agree with you, don't rely on the CT for all your information go look at history, the REAL story of the Republican party. Clinton created 22 million jobs, (the most of any US President) how? by raising taxes on the rich! and by regulating corporations! Again history is all the proof we need.
  4. schism
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    schism - August 03, 2012 2:22 pm
    It's "Plain" to see why you Dave have never worked at any other paper.
    Who would have you?
    Very sad.
  5. schism
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    schism - August 03, 2012 12:37 pm
    Republican congress?!!! Wow are you out of the ball park let alone missing the ball. And by the way cowboy, after years of neglect, Regan spent it on building up and navigating our country through very challenging and changing times.
    Since your attempted to recall the guy trying to responsibly govern your state, I have read your papers to try and understand how people can become so lost and out of touch with the serious problems your state and this country are currently facing.
    Fact twisted articles such as this and your erroneous comments help to explain.
    With all due respect, try and spread non biased facts and help your fellow citizen understand the truth. Sitting back with a sharp tounge and a dull pencil is degrading to you and to us.
  6. wisconsineye
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    wisconsineye - August 02, 2012 10:53 pm
    How did this article (written for the Onion) make it on the Cap Times page?
  7. busrider
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    busrider - August 02, 2012 8:24 am
    So kids if you flunk math in school you will only be qualified to mis-interperet number facts.

    The good news, dear children, is that you might get to work at the Cap Times.

    This is without doubt the most uninformed and ignorant piece about economics that I have ever wasted time reading.

  8. webmasterbigbrother
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    webmasterbigbrother - August 01, 2012 7:48 pm
    """"""""""""""'President Obama: The Biggest Government Spender In World History""""""""""""""""""""""

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterferrara/2012/06/14/president-obama-the-biggest-government-spender-in-world-history/

    swap a couple sentences and adjectives around and i could have my own insta-piece like dave does.

    """""""""Contrary to official Democrat Keynesian witchcraft, you don’t promote economic recovery, growth and prosperity by borrowing a trillion dollars out of the economy to spend a trillion dollars back into it."""""""

    i'd include that line for sure.

    here is another golden line:

    """""""President Obama’s own 2013 budget shows that as a result federal debt held by the public will double during Obama’s four years as President. """"""

    """""""Despite all the controversy in Washington and in the media over Ryan’s budget, what it all adds up to is just to restore federal spending to its long term, postwar, historical average of 20% of GDP. That stable level of federal spending, with some modest variance, prevailed for over 60 years after the end of World War II, until 2009. Ryan’s budget reduces federal spending from an average of 24.4% of GDP during the Obama years to 20.1% after just 3 years, by 2015.""""""""

    followed by this one:

    """"""""""""""By contrast, under the budget policies supported by President Obama and Congressional Democrats, federal spending soars to 30% of GDP by 2027, 40% by 2040, 50% by 2060, and 80% by 2080. Obama’s 2013 budget proposes to spend $47 trillion over the next 10 years, the most in world history by far, increasing federal spending by $1.5 trillion above the current CBO baseline. Ryan’s budget proposes to cut that by $6.8 trillion. By 2022, Ryan’s budget would be spending nearly a trillion dollars less per year than President Obama’s budget.""""""""""""""""""

    this conversation is rather disingenuous; obviously obamacare was planned to take effect after the election cycle and that spending doesn't count in these lowest spender since eisenhower assertions.

    yada yada yada about bush being a big spender like we are all default bush fans.

    voters must reject those far enough to the left to continue to propose stimulus and government spending as a solution to our woes just like voters must reject that wing of the GOP that says one thing and spends another.

  9. Typothetes
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    Typothetes - August 01, 2012 5:36 pm
    Awww, Dave!
    You forget that the article you quote is a COMMENTARY piece from the WSJ! This is not news, it is opinion! The WSJ allows differing opinions in its commentary section. Does the CrapTimes print interesting commentary that refutes its basic values? Actually, I think it does...occassionaly, but only to riducule the opposition!

    If Obama had reduced spending by the amount of TAARP spending, then you might have a point. But, Obama's spending did not decrease by 700 billion in 2010...so your point is ridiculous!
  10. Cowboy99540
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    Cowboy99540 - August 01, 2012 5:30 pm
    Dear Readers:

    More republican propaganda and misinformation being spread around like Skippie Peanut Butter, my friends.

    The poster that set ole Skippie straight had his sh* t dead right. Ronald Reagan increased the U.S. federal debt more than all of the previous presidents before combined.

    If you don't believe it just go fact check it and you'll be in for a big let down about Mr. nine words Ronald Reagan in a hurry.

    That's because all these conservative Jokers, a.k.a, politicians like Reagan and Bush talk a good game until they get in there and after getting the keys to the candy store they go on a wild spending spree that make most of our wives' outings with our credit cards look trivial (meaning no offense ladies).

    Cowboy
  11. Cowboy99540
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    Cowboy99540 - August 01, 2012 5:18 pm
    Dear Readers: Another lame republican backer no doubt unhappy with the news about President Obama and Dave's willingness to put that news out there.

    That is the truth about Obama's spending over the past three budget cycles, because he didn't pass the fiscal year 2009 federal budget.

    I've noticed that whenever something regarding the President isn't to their liking these conservative detractors start in with the personal insults and rants on someone else's qualifications, even when they are obviously well qualified like Barack Obama and Dave Zweifel both are.

    This jive turkey just can't accept the fact that both Ronald Reagan and "W" were the biggest spenders of the whole lot, can they?

    Cowboy
  12. Dode
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    Dode - August 01, 2012 3:53 pm
    Earth to Davey! Earth to Davey! Hello? Just because you claim to be a journalist, you don't have the right to foist a bunch of lies upon the sheep you call your flock.

    If you want to find the truth about 0bama's spending check out this more informed and more accurate article at Forbes from back in June:
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterferrara/2012/06/14/president-obama-the-biggest-government-spender-in-world-history/3/

    Don't be a liberal stooge and depend on CT for your facts. Open your eyes and look around.
  13. LongNeckGoose
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    LongNeckGoose - August 01, 2012 2:50 pm
    Skippie, you were doing OK until you wrote "Obama has spent more in one term then (sic) all other presidents before him combined have spent." After the eight years of deficit spending of the Republican Congress under George W. Bush, how could that possibly be true? So I did a little research and found this. Sorry, Skippie, a swing and a miss...
    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Did_President_Obama_spend_more_money_than_all_the_former_presidents_of_the_US_combined
  14. jd33
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    jd33 - August 01, 2012 1:35 pm
    Gary, that is an intelligent rebuttal. Clearly your debating skills are top notch.
  15. Gary Bogenschultz
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    Gary Bogenschultz - August 01, 2012 11:46 am
    Dese facts go agaenst everyting dat da fat, loud guy on da radio seys...... so I'm jist gonna ignore dem!
  16. skippie
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    skippie - August 01, 2012 10:46 am
    Please do not call this "Plain Talk". You site an opinion page at Marketwatch and use information in that opinion page as fact. The Washington Post Fact Checker shows this information to be rated at Three Pinocchios which means "Significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions". In reality, Obama has spent more in one term then all other presidents before him combined have spent. According to Obama's own numbers he has spent between 24.1 and 25.2% of GNP from 2009 to 2012. In the post-war era, federal spending as a percentage of the U.S. economy has hovered around 20 percent, give or take a couple of percentage points. Under Obama, it has hit highs not seen since the end of World War II — completely the opposite of the point asserted by Carney.

    Obama wanted to spend even more The CBO show actual spending vs. what Obama proposed to spend:
    2012: $3.71 trillion (versus $3.65 trillion enacted)
    2011: $3.80 trillion (versus $3.60 trillion enacted)
    2010: $3.67 trillion (versus $3.46 trillion enacted)

    Please try to report some facts as opposed to reporting significant factual error and obvious contradictions. You would be wiser and more respected if you just said you like Obama despite his spending then by trying to spin the numbers to make him out to be the most frugal president in recent history.
  17. legalizeit
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    legalizeit - August 01, 2012 7:10 am
    I think Dave is too busy spinning to read.
  18. webmasterbigbrother
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    webmasterbigbrother - August 01, 2012 6:09 am
    this headline is extremely misleading compared to the actual study.

    the study actually speaks on obama's low RATE of spending increases, not his actually spending.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/the-facts-about-the-growth-of-spending-under-obama/2012/05/24/gJQAIJh6nU_blog.html

    if you read that the AP and the post both found issues with the math.
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