MarketWatch Says Obama’s Spending Binge Never Happened, Keeps Straight Face

Just when you thought media bias couldn’t possibly be more blatant, along comes this article from MarketWatch, a purportedly trusted source of Wall Street news. (Never mind that MarketWatch is operated by CBS, who should change their acronym to Cooing Barack Supporters … but I digress).

This article so blatantly misrepresents the facts that it’s difficult to know where to start:

By Rex Nutting, MarketWatch

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Of all the falsehoods told about President Barack Obama, the biggest whopper is the one about his reckless spending spree.

As would-be president Mitt Romney tells it: “I will lead us out of this debt and spending inferno.”

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.

Government spending under Obama, including his signature stimulus bill, is rising at a 1.4% annualized pace — slower than at any time in nearly 60 years.

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.

Here are the facts, according to the official government statistics:

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.

I’ve even seen Tea Party members start to panic – “ZOMG IT WAS BUSH’S FAULT!”

I’ll tackle the first section before I post the second section with rebuttal. It’s pretty basic, really. The rate of growth in spending is NOT equivalent to spending as an overall percentage of GDP. This is a selective look at statistics without giving the overall context. Yes, the rate of growth has leveled off. But ONLY after spending was raised to unsustainable levels!

But the second argument is even more powerful. The Bush budgets – you remember, back in the day, when we actually passed budgets – never exceeded $2.5 Trillion, and deficit spending never exceeded $500 Billion. DEFICIT SPENDING HAS MORE THAN DOUBLED SINCE OBAMA TOOK OFFICE. Overall spending has increased by upwards of 50% since 2006, when the Democrats took control in Congress and the Senate. This chart is from the White House website:




(in millions of dollars)
Year Total On-Budget Off-Budget
Receipts Outlays Surplus or Deficit (–) Receipts Outlays Surplus or Deficit (–) Receipts Outlays Surplus or Deficit (–)
2000 2,025,191 1,788,950 236,241 1,544,607 1,458,185 86,422 480,584 330,765 149,819
2001 1,991,082 1,862,846 128,236 1,483,563 1,516,008 -32,445 507,519 346,838 160,681
2002 1,853,136 2,010,894 -157,758 1,337,815 1,655,232 -317,417 515,321 355,662 159,659
2003 1,782,314 2,159,899 -377,585 1,258,472 1,796,890 -538,418 523,842 363,009 160,833
2004 1,880,114 2,292,841 -412,727 1,345,369 1,913,330 -567,961 534,745 379,511 155,234
2005 2,153,611 2,471,957 -318,346 1,576,135 2,069,746 -493,611 577,476 402,211 175,265
2006 2,406,869 2,655,050 -248,181 1,798,487 2,232,981 -434,494 608,382 422,069 186,313
2007 2,567,985 2,728,686 -160,701 1,932,896 2,275,049 -342,153 635,089 453,637 181,452
2008 2,523,991 2,982,544 -458,553 1,865,945 2,507,793 -641,848 658,046 474,751 183,295
2009 2,104,989 3,517,677 -1,412,688 1,450,980 3,000,661 -1,549,681 654,009 517,016 136,993
2010 2,162,724 3,456,213 -1,293,489 1,531,037 2,901,531 -1,370,494 631,687 554,682 77,005
2011 2,303,466 3,603,061 -1,299,595 1,737,678 3,104,455 -1,366,777 565,788 498,606 67,182
2012 estimate 2,468,599 3,795,547 -1,326,948 1,896,459 3,290,381 -1,393,922 572,140 505,166 66,974
2013 estimate 2,901,956 3,803,364 -901,408 2,224,545 3,169,287 -944,742 677,411 634,077 43,334
2014 estimate 3,215,293 3,883,095 -667,802 2,472,854 3,167,901 -695,047 742,439 715,194 27,245
2015 estimate 3,450,153 4,059,866 -609,713 2,669,297 3,298,248 -628,951 780,856 761,618 19,238
2016 estimate 3,680,085 4,328,840 -648,755 2,847,273 3,519,901 -672,628 832,812 808,939 23,873
2017 estimate 3,919,275 4,531,723 -612,448 3,038,128 3,672,539 -634,411 881,147 859,184 21,963
* $500 thousand or less.


James Pethokoukis reframes this even more starkly on his blog:

Actually, the Obama spending binge really did happen

As the chart indicates, Nutting arrives at that 1.4% number by assigning 2009—when spending surged nearly 20%—to George W. Bush: “The 2009 fiscal year, which Republicans count as part of Obama’s legacy, began four months before Obama moved into the White House. The major spending decisions in the 2009 fiscal year were made by George W. Bush and the previous Congress. Like a relief pitcher who comes into the game with the bases loaded, Obama came in with a budget in place that called for spending to increase by hundreds of billions of dollars in response to the worst economic and financial calamity in generations.”

Let me complete the metaphor for Nutting: “Then as those runners scored, Obama kept putting more on base.”

Obama chose not to reverse that elevated level of spending; 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.

So, the author took 2009 and lumped it in with Bush (BLAME BUSH!) and failed to separate out the Omnibus Spending Bill of 2009, TARP, and the Stimulus. No biggie. You see, here’s the whole point of Democrat budgeting. This is one of the oldest tricks in their book. They raise the baseline spending by whatever means necessary – emergency spending usually does the trick because a giant increase in a proposed budget generally doesn’t garner a lot of votes on the floor. All of the increased spending rate occurs in one event, instead of a series of budgets passed over several years. Once the baseline is raised, that’s the new normal, and future budgets (if they’re ever actually, you know, passed) work from the previously established precedent of higher spending. Plus that makes it easier to blame the last president for all of your spending malfeasance. At this point in the budget approval process, if someone is sharp enough to pick up on their little trick, they typically come back with something that sounds a lot like, “But, it’s for the CHILLLLDRENNNNN!”

Ok now let’s tackle the second chart in this article. This is where the author really shows how stupid he thinks his readers (and Obama sycophants) really are.

The big surge in federal spending happened in fiscal 2009, before Obama took office. Since then, spending growth has been relatively flat.

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%.

There has been no huge increase in spending under the current president, despite what you hear.

Why do people think Obama has spent like a drunken sailor? It’s in part because of a fundamental misunderstanding of the federal budget.

Do you notice something funny? That supposed lowest spending ever year, 2012? Doesn’t that bar seem like it’s taller than the other ones? Sure seems like that means spending is higher, not lower. Take 2009 and blame it on your predecessor, if pressed on the issue say that you inherited this mess from him, put it all in a blender for maximum spin, and voila! You’re not a drunken sailor anymore!

The disrespect for the voters in these budget games never ceases to amaze. In fact, they seem to raise the baseline every time they open their mouths.


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