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  • The Truth about President Obama's Skyrocketing Spending

    Spending has skyrocketed under President Obama, but of late some are claiming that the opposite is true. Case in point: MarketWatch columnist Rex Nutting wrote, “Obama spending binge never happened,” and Politifact rated this statement “mostly true.”

    But Mitt Romney this week said that “Since President Obama assumed office three years ago, federal spending has accelrated at a pace without precedent in recent history.” So who has it right? Mitt Romney.

    What Politifact must have missed is a very important data point: President Obama signed most of the spending attributed to President George W. Bush’s last year in office, which was assigned wrongly to Bush in Nutting’s piece. (Heritage’s Emily Goff and Alison Fraser set the record straight on The Foundry.)

    Nutting argues that President G.W. Bush’s second term spending bills from Fiscal Year 2006-2009 averaged 8.1% and President Obama’s annualized growth averaged 1.4%.  The reason why Nutting included FY 2009 is because it was “the last of George W. Bush’s presidency — federal spending rose by 17.9% from $2.98 trillion to $3.52 trillion.”  This assumption is incorrect and dishonest.  This flaw in Nutting’s analysis is the reason why the Obama numbers are wrong and Nutting’s whole piece is based on flawed data.

    Nutting operates under the flawed assumption that President Obama is not responsible for FY 2009 spending.  Under normal circumstances Nutting would be correct.  If Congress were a functioning body that passed appropriations bills on time, then this analysis would be correct.  The fact of the matter is that in recent history Congress has not done appropriations bills on time and in FY 2009, President Obama signed these spending bills into law that President Bush would have under different circumstances.

    Usually, the president in office prior to a new president would have helped craft and sign into law government spending bills applied to the first 9 months of spending the next year and a president’s new term.  A fiscal year starts on October 1 of the year prior to the calendar year to September 30th of the calendar year.  In other words the fiscal year starts three months early.

    In FY2009, Congress did not complete work by September 30, 2008.  President Bush did sign some appropriations bills and a continuing resolution to keep the government running into President Obama’s first term, yet a Democrat controlled Congress purposely held off on the big spending portions of the appropriations bills until Obama took office.  They did so for the purposes of jacking up spending.  President Obama signed the final FY2009 spending bills on March 11, 2009.

    Congressional Quarterly (subscription required) maps out a history of the FY 2009 final appropriations bills (H.R. 1105 and PL 111-8), that would lead one to attribute most of the accelerated spending in FY 2009 to President Obama in a piece titled “2009 Legislative Summary: Fiscal 2009 Omnibus.” From CQ, “the omnibus provided a total of $1.05 trillion — $410 billion of it for discretionary programs — and included many of the domestic spending increases Democrats were unable to get enacted while George W. Bush was president.”  If accepted as true, this statement alone undercuts Nutting’s whole premise that FY 2009 is wholly Bush spending.

    President Bush signed only three of the twelve appropriations bills for FY 2009:  Defense; Military Construction/Veterans Affairs; and, Homeland Security.  President Bush also signed a continuing resolution that kept the government running until March 6, 2009 that level of funding the remaining nine appropriations bills at FY 2008 levels.  President Bush and his spending should only be judged on these three appropriations bills and FY 2008 levels of funding for the remaining nine appropriations bills.  Bush never consented to the dramatic increase in spending for FY 2009 and he should not be blamed for that spending spree.

    The Democrats purposely held off on the appropriations process because they hoped they could come into 2009 with a new Democrat-friendly Congress and a President who would sign bloated spending bills.  Remember, President Obama was in the Senate when these bills were crafted and he was part of this process to craft bloated spending bills.  CQ reported that “in delaying the nine remaining bills until 2009, Democrats gambled that they would come out of the November 2008 elections with bigger majorities in both chambers and a Democrat in the White House who would support more funding for domestic programs.”  And they did.

    If you trust CQ’s reporting, and I do, then this is damning.  Democrats in Congress purposely held off on pushing bloated appropriations bills because they knew President Bush would not sign the bill and Republicans in the Senate would block consideration of it.  You have to remember that the Senate went from 51-49 Democrat control under President Bush’s last year to 59-41 in the early days of President Obama.  On April 28, 2009, Senator Arlen Specter switched parties from Republican to Democrat to give the Democrats a 60 vote filibuster proof majority in the Senate.  The House had a similar conversion from a 233-202 Democrat majority to 257-178 Democrat majority. Democrats were banking on a big enough majorities in the Senate and House that they could pass the bloated spending bill and they got it.

    Bush issued a veto threat on the bloated spending bills pending in Congress in late 2008.  CQ estimated that the final spending bill “provided about $31 billion more in discretionary funding than was included in the fiscal 2008 versions of the nine bills” which is “about $19 billion more than Bush sought.”  I would argue that Obama gets credit for the whole $31 billion in new spending.  The most damning fact from the CQ piece is that “Bush had threatened to veto spending bills that exceeded his request.”

    Now one can argue that even $31 billion is a drop in the bucket when one considers that spending went from $2.98 trillion to $3.52 trillion.  Much of the spike in increased spending is on the mandatory spending side, and much of it can be attributed to President Obama.  Look at OMB Tables on FY 2008 spending versus FY 2009 spending and you can see why the numbers spiked between those two years.

    Overall spending, mandatory and discretionary spending went from $2.98 trillion in FY 2008 to $3.52 trillion in FY 2009.  There were two of the big spikes in spending from FY’08 to ’09.  One was in Federal Payments for Individuals not including Social Security and Medicare from $758 billion in FY’08 to 918 billion in FY’09.  President Obama’s Stimulus spending bill included an increase in food stamps and an extension of unemployment benefits that should not be attributable to President Bush.  Also, the category of “Other Federal” spending spiked from $261 billion to $540 billion.  This includes TARP spending that was recovered on the back end by President Obama further distorting the Nutting analysis.

    So how can Nutting attribute spending to President Bush that he expressly vowed to veto?  Also, some of the mandatory spending has been wrongly attributed to President Bush in Nutting’s analysis.  Finally, TARP spending under Bush and the recovery of TARP money under Obama further distorts these numbers.

    This is unethical and fuzzy math.  The Truth-O-Meter may want to consider these facts when further analyzing the complications and distortions in analysis used by Nutting to argue that Obama is more fiscally responsible than his predecessors.

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    50 Responses to The Truth about President Obama's Skyrocketing Spending

    1. Patricia Brooks says:

      Well, of course you'd say Romney was right … I'd not expect anything else from this blog.

      • Bobbie says:

        really? did you read the article? are you stricken with the ignorance illness? or the mental disease spread across the country that disallows the mind from perceiving all facts necessary to form an honest opinion? Otherwise known as government educated? Or are you appreciating the fact that you wouldn't expect anything else from this blog outside true facts and considerations pertained? You have the power to cure your own narrowed thinking as many have and come to respect truth over constant deception for political gain. Check out your constitution and see how well it's being taken care of while spit and spewed on for your own good!

      • John Q Public says:

        Patricia I guess you can't dispute facts you just have to attack the message.. This is a thinking person's blog. If you chose not to do that may I suggest something over at the Huffington Post?

      • Al from Fl says:

        If you read the article, you would see that most of the funding for 09 was signed off by Obama, not Bush. In any case, budget deficit spending increased every year from 2007 on when the democrats held congress. Obama had a veto proof democrat congress his first two years – so he could have done whatever he wanted.

      • Stirling says:

        The best part of Heritage's blog is being able to debate and stand up to people like yourself who either don't understand or arn't willing to question the liberal propaganda. The facts and truth speak for themselves, and will not be silenced. When you speak in terms of Right v.s Left you miss the point entirely since we debate the right v.s wrong policies and how and why it is so.

      • IHateStupid says:

        Agreed, this whole article is bias driven opinion. You claim Nutting's assumption is incorrect…and then blame Congress for not passing bills fast enough. Not to mention the idiotic reporting from CQ, let's just let everyone else think for us, really makes it easier to be a stupid partisan.

        • Jake says:

          Are you aware that there is more to this article than just the first sentence? I guess they don't teach critical reading skills in 4th grade anymore.

      • John says:

        You do get that he just didn't write "Romney is right!!!" and leave it a that?
        But that he actually supported his claim?

        Do you grasp that the FY 2009 budget of Bush's was declared DOA by the democratic congress?
        And that in order to pass it, they waited until Obama was in office?

    2. panskeptic says:

      This is really tortured. Step back and you'll see.

      The facts are that Ronald Reagan tripled the deficit and Bush Sr. made it a quadruple. Clinton reduced it to a near-surplus. Then Bush Jr. skyrocketed it again. Now Obama is trying to clean up his mess.

      Face it, Bush fought two wars, gave tax cuts to the wealthy and introduced an unfunded health mandate while refusing to pay for any of it. So much for the Party of Fiscal Responsibility.

      You can't blame this on Obama without revealing severe memory dysfunction.

      • BobS says:

        Wow, it's like in your world presidents are dictators who determine what all spending will be, regardless of what the congress does.

        BTW: Here are some of the major factors in Clinton's surplus, and you'll notice Clinton had very little to do with them…

        1) The peace dividend from the Cold War, the DOD budget was actually cut (not a Washington cut, but a real cut) for three years running. From $286 billion in FY1992 to $250 billion in FY 1994 and held to minimal growth for three years ($259 billion in FY 1997).

        2) The S&L scandal was winding down, by the time Clinton took office the government was making more money from selling off assets from seized S&Ls than they were spending to seize new S&Ls.

        3) Refinancing Reagan era 10 & 15 year treasury bills at much lower interest rates cutting the cost of servicing the debt.

        4) The GOP lead congress making an effort to enact the recommendations of Clinton's bipartisan panel on Medicare reform (over the objections of Clinton & the Dems).

        5) The GOP lead congress enacting Welfare reform (something Clinton embraced and tried to take credit for, after he saw that it had 70% poll approval).

        6) The GOP led congress cutting the capital gains tax rate (once again over the objections of Clinton, Dems and the CBO, all of which predicted lower revenues – they were wrong, revenues went up).

        7) The GOP congress led by a group of deficit hawks holding the line on the discretionary budget; from FY1992 to FY 1999 the discretionary budget only increased by $50 billion dollars. For their efforts these budget hawks were accused of wanting to poison the air, starve children, toss old people onto icebergs, etc.

        8) The tech boom, dot com boom, and Y2K led to levels of employment not seen since the 1950s, when the USA was the only major industrialized nation that hadn't been bombed to hell.

        And despite having all of these things going for him, Clinton only posted an on-budget surplus two years, and those were for a grand total of $88 billion.

      • John says:

        What's tortured is blaming bloated budgets on Republican president's when Democrats were controlling congress!
        Wow… now that's a stretch.
        Note that when Republicans were in office, spending stayed close to 115% of revenue. Then the dems got into office, and, well… you know the rest…

        Year—- revenue—spending—- percent of revenue spent

      • @panskeptic

        I love how liberals tought Bill Clinton's fiscal responsibility BUT leave out the fact that it was ONLY possible with a Repulican congress as they would not go for Clinton's spending spree then ignore the fact that the Dems had control since 2006.

    3. Wigglesworth says:

      Politico rated Nutter's lie as 'Mostly True'. LOL

      • John says:

        You're talking about Fact Check, not Politico. And just because they agree with it, it doesn't make it so.

        What you can't do is read the above section and then say that Nutter's claim is based in fact.
        Or argue that the guy who spent $400 billion as part of the FY2009 budget had nothing to do with the explosion of the FY2009 spending. http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h1105/show

        Or argue that a democrat congress, who aimed not to let Bush veto their spending, makes Bush responsible for their spending.

    4. Well of course Darking wants to attack Obama… why would he want to do anything reasonably balanced?_

    5. Not Likely says:

      None of this changes the fact that spending is not skyrocketing. It’s nearly flat. That’s a fact. Heritage is nothing but a propaganda outfit.

      • John says:

        That's bizarre to say.
        Spending is "nearly flat" after it exploded from the previous years:

        YEAR–REVENUE–SPENDING– Percent of revenue spent

        As you can tell, spending exploded in FY 2009.
        Now do you suppose that the Democrats waiting for the president to get into office before spending part of FY 2009 might have something to do with that? Or the stimulus bill?

        • JJJ says:

          Hi, its 2012 now. What's spending been doing the last 3 years? Oh its flat. Like the thread that you replied to said.

          • GFR says:

            If you spend 167% of what you take in for three years, spending is technically "flat" but you have increased the national debt by 5 TRILLION dollars – are you so stupid that you can't see that this is a huge problem?

    6. Frank in Florida says:

      PolitiFact is in the tank for Obama and the left. Moreso than the network news and all cable news networks, except Fox. They are so biased and twist their analysis so much it's hard to fathom anyone would pay heed to their nonsense at all. PolitiFact came from the St Petersburg Times, now the Tampa Bay Times. They are one of, if not the most left wing newspaper in the country. Far worse than the NYTimes.

      • What you're doing here is called "projection."

        It's when someone accuses another of doing the very thing the original accuser is actually doing.

        In this case, you represent the conservative media, who twist facts to their own purposes and lie, like Romney did, for political and corrupt purposes. These projections do not mask the lying made by Ryan and Romney about Obama's actual budget increases. (In fact, they were decreases, when adjusted for inflation using Nutting's original estimates!)

        Politifact.com simply did the math. Their revised estimate of Obama's spending (which INCLUDES conservative arguments about which Presidential administration's various aspects of the 2009 budget fall under) puts Obama well under Reagan and Bush I and Bush II for spending increases.

        Do the math and your fuzzy arguments fall away. Or keep to your irrational religious beliefs about government spending, based on conservative media propaganda that is not rooted in reality. Your choice — we have freedom of religion in America — even if it falls, like recent doomsday predictions (which keep getting postponed due to "mathematical error"), under the category of "cuckoo". :-)

    7. Bob says:

      What else would you expect from someone assisting the re-election of the most foolish commie in world history!

    8. VCmom says:

      I'm sorry, whose SIGNATURE is on those spending bills? Oh yeah. That would be obama. Who has spent 4X the money of all other presidents and spent 5X the amount of time fundraising as the past 3 presidents COMBINED? Oh yeah. That would be obama. Give me a break, all you obamabots. You cannot put enough lipstick on this pig. He's still a pig.

      • Dee says:

        Just got done reading an article about Bush approving most of the 2009 fiscal budget ($700 billion of it). In March, Congress had to find funding for many government programs people rely on because no one bothered before the fiscal year started. (Flood insurance for instance) You should read more than just one biased article before Sahadi, Jeanne. “Bailout is law: President Bush signs historic $700 billion plan aimed at stemming credit crisis.” CNNMoney.com. 4 Oct 2008. It is truly embarrassing that we have become so disrespectful of the people we vote in to run this country.

    9. Dan says:

      The CQ breakdown is fairly clear as far as I can make out, and does support the main thrust of the argument made against the representation of FY2009's misrepresentation in Nutting's piece. Unfortunately, even if that is granted as true, it doesn't support Romney's statement one bit. As usual in American politics, neither side in this latest debate is being entirely honest and neither side is entirely blameless.

    10. In true Republican form, regardless of what the facts support, the right has their own alternate universe where they can make up whatever "faux" they want.
      No matter how many times you distort a fact, its still a fact.

      • saveamerica says:

        explain yourself…
        alternate universe? makeup whatever "faux" they want? If you were born in America, you'd see the only alternative coming from todays' president and his determined "change" to undertake Americans freedom, liberty and ones own justice. Facts arent included in this government regime and the millions behind it, who gives themselves credit where it isn't due without ANY recognition of the truth (if truth shows, Obama and his like minded he works for, with and by, spins truth into their web of deceit) and slanders those defending it. True Republicans! Please try not to lower yourself to this ignorance level.

      • Johan says:

        And in tune with the typical Dem. Retort " I know you are but what am I" Its your strategy that cannot be matched or refuted.

    11. a Dame says:

      Please take a look at the update that Politifact posted on May 31 (use the link in this article). They took into account the arguments made here and made a recalculation to satisfy critics. By adding TARP and other spending into Obama's 2009 numbers, the total spending has gone up, but still at a far lower pace (%) than most presidents. The facts do not add up here. Agree with the POTUS or not, you cannot claim that his spending is greater than other presidents. Mitt Romney and this article are not correct (no matter how much you want them to be)

    12. Janet says:

      Wow, you really had to spin this one didn't you? The chart gives EVERY president credit for when credit is due. If they had nothing to do with the budget the last year of the prior presidents term, why should they have to attribute it to them? Half-truths is why Fox is not respected, and I guess since you are the major research people they quote, you'd have to spin it your way. FACTs are facts. Own them.

    13. Peter Strandjord says:

      Even if you add back 2009 (four months before Obama took office) His number stays below %5. It's the increasing effect of reduced revenue caused be the halved capital gains, and other lost revenue due tax cutting, that has added so much to the deficit.

    14. Rick says:

      Brian, Darling – You just simply have so many of your "facts" wrong. Your logic wouldn't win any contests, either.

    15. Don says:

      Yes, facts are facts. Obama has nearly outspent all previous presidents. Actually, it is Congress that has done it. The liberals now are screaming and twisting because somebody wants to cut spending. Reality is that Obama's administration is worse than Nixon's. Look at the coverups look at the lies. I can go on but I'm sure no liberal wants to admit it.

      And remember, it was Congress (under Republicans) who forced Clinton to balance the budget. Bush was horrible with the budget. Obama is worse. Facts are facts.

    16. People, please just LOOK AT THE FACTS. Politifact.com is the sane voice here in busting Romney's huge lie, "Since President Obama assumed office three years ago, federal spending has accelerated at a pace without precedent in recent history…" — http://www.mittromney.com/issues/spending

      According to Politifact's latest analysis (UPDATE, May 31, 2012), OBAMA IS A HUGE FEDERAL DOLLAR SAVER compared with Bush I, Bush II and even Reagan, the right's supposed heroes of fiscal responsibility.

      Politifact didn't just use liberal-leaning estimates. They took conservative arguments and incorporated them into a plausible (though arguable) analysis that puts any Obama-signed legislation under his budgetary purview as President. (Remember, Obama inherited legislation and part of a budget pushed through by G. W. Bush. Also remember, budgets must be approved by both houses of Congress — Dems and Repubs alike.)

      And Obama still comes up a winner. Obama is a saver. Obama, with an estimated 3.4 to 4.9 percent spending increase, is a better President in fiscal terms than Clinton (depending on the calculation used), who balanced the budget, and certainly far better than Bush I, Bush II and Reagan, who increased spending 10.2, 5.8, and 8.6 percent in raw dollars, respectively.

      These are facts. They are based on independent budget analyses through the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). They are the best available.

      The idea that Obama has presided over the greatest spending increases in recent history is a massive, politically motivated lie perpetrated by Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney and others.

      WRONG: "Since President Obama assumed office three years ago, federal spending has accelerated at a pace without precedent in recent history." — Mitt Romney, http://www.mittromney.com/issues/spending

      WRONG (but recently removed, once Politifact.com was notified!): "…the president has doubled the size of government since he took office." — Paul Ryan, at http://paulryan.house.gov/Issues/Issue/?IssueID=1

      (See http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statement

      Let this analysis end the myth-making and lying. Obama has saved the country more money (measured in annual percentage budget increases) than any conservative President in the last 32 years! And he's done it at a time when the country's tax base has shrunk due to the near-depression that his stimulus package helped turn around. A shrinking tax base vastly reduces the amount of monies available to the government.

      Note too that Obama's stimulus package was watered down by Republican dickering to a point where it became far less effective than it could have been — a likely part of their plan to "destroy Obama" as promulgated by GOP leader Mitch McConnell.

      Please send this suggestion to the Romney campaign: STOP LYING ABOUT OBAMA ADMINISTRATION SPENDING. To send this suggestion, go to http://www.mittromney.com/forms/suggestions

      Link to the last update by Politifact.com: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statement

      • Steve says:

        Uh huh, yeah, you have totally debunked any argument about the big O's profligate spending. Thanks for your incredible omnipotence.

        • youcantstandthetruth says:

          A veto proof congress for 2 years? Ha ha ha.. Another Republican lie, repeated over and over again so that the weak minded believe it. Check out when Al Franken was seated and then next check when Scotty brown was seated. That ends that!

      • Jake says:

        If you are begging people to look at the facts, I beg you to look at one simple one: Compare Obama's first 4 years with Bush's 8 years. Obama spent WAY WAY WAY more. Tweak the numbers all you like, but the reality is that he is no spend-thrift as you claim.

        You are probably one of the same people who say Reagan's policies didnt help the economy because tax revenues fell as a % of GDP under his administration. I'll give you 2 choices: would you rather have a country with
        1) GDP of 50 billion and tax revenues of 10 billion?
        2) GDP of 150 billion and tax revenues of 20 billion?
        The reality is that, from a numbers perspective, Reagan DID decrease tax revenues as a % of GDP, but citing that as failed policy is like complaining the economy recovered too fast.

    17. GFR says:

      You liberals need to calm down and take a deep breath because this will take some abstract thinking and you are not really equipped for it.

      1) in 2009 spending increased 18% over the previous year to a point where we were spending 67% MORE than we were taking in in revenues.

      2) Each year for the next three years spending remained almost flat (it didn't increase further), but that didn't mean there was no problem. What it meant was that every year for the next three years we spent 67% MORE than we took in in revenues. The difference was made up by borrowing from China.

      3) Romney is completely right because he is saying that we are spending far more than we are taking in in revenues. Obama is technically right because he is saying that we are not spending more and more every year – so what – that is a specious argument, he knows full well that we can't go on spending 67% more each year than we take in but he hopes that he can pull the wool over the eyes of the American people until after the election.

      Romney needs to make skyrocketing spending the number one item on the agenda every where he goes.

      • Nanashi says:

        Yeah, but that's because the economy tanked under Bush, and revenue went down. If 2009 revenue had only stayed even at $2.52 trillion Obama would have increased the deficit by about $600 billion (actually, he probably would have paid it down by about $200 billion as there would have been no need for the stimulus package). Reasonably Obama's policies would have taken at least a year to have any effect, and since he started in 2009, 2011 is the best year to judge his economic policies' efficacy. Guess what? 2011 saw an increase in Revenue from 2.16 trillion to 2.34 trillion as well as a decrease in spending by about $100 billion.

      • Ronald DiFiore says:

        Amen GFR, Lib Minds are not capable of comprehending things when read it seems.. So we NEED to explain things to them.. LOLOLOL.. It's simple answer this question then LIBTARDS, Why did deficit go up by over 5 trillion dollars which IS A FACT!! It all does'nt add up.. Fact is we are PLUS 5 TRILLION!! on the bottom line and set to go up almost another 2 trillion next year under dear leader chairman MAO-BAMA.. Bush was a big spending Repub, there is no doubt about that.

    18. Jason Knight says:

      Explain to me this, how can spending be down when the deficit for Obama's first year (2009, $1.5 Trillion) with a all dem congress is more than the enitre 4 years Dubya had a republican congress (2003-2007) — roughly 1.2 trillion over FOUR YEARS, or that combined the Obama years totals FIVE TIMES the increase in the national debt — while at the same time averaging 2 trillion more in income?!?

      If you average more income and have more of a deficit, how in BLAZES does that equal lower spending?!? Revenue up 2 trillion/year average… deficit up 1 trillion/year average…. so… they're spending less — where's that 3 trillion total going.

      Somebody's playing games with their numbers… But of course that's the joy of them listing a percentage without clearly defining a percentage of WHAT — it can be used to promote just about any lie.

      Compare 2011 to 2007… a fair comparison.

      Federal Revenue: 14 trillion
      Deficit: 162 billion

      Federal Revenue: 18 trillion
      Deficit: 1299 billion

      So… spending is "down" when there's by comparison a 4 TRILLION dollar increase in revenue and a 1.13 trillion dollar increase in the deficit?

      BULLCOOKIES. SOMEBODY is lying to you, and using "percentages" to do it!

    19. Dan Burch says:

      More info on spending.

    20. youcantstandthetruth says:

      The fallacy of your argument is in the fact that G W Bush actually proposed a budget, totaling over 3.1 Trillion not including his unfunded wars. Also You continue with the lie that Obama had a filibuster proof senate and even give a date of April 2009. You conveniently forget, or just chose to lie, that Al Franken was not seated until July. And to think, that fact is so easy to check. It shows you to not be very honest and since your premise is wrong, so is your conclusion.

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