Another liberal myth down the drain

posted at 10:00 pm on May 8, 2012 by Dustin Siggins

Last week, a New York Times piece by Floyd Norris, Chief Financial Correspondent for the NY Times and The International Herald Tribune, claimed government spending has gone down under President Obama. The claim, which relies on half-truths and incorporates only certain areas of spending in the federal government, has been debunked by others – Morgen Richmond already hit it on the Hot Air main page, for example – but I think it deserves further shredding.

First, this canard has been proven wrong before. Just Facts President Jim Agresti debunked this myth just over 18 months ago, when Paul Krugman and Ezra Klein made the same argument. Jim pointed out that according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, not only had spending not gone down under Obama, but

furthermore, since Krugman’s central premise in these articles is that government spending is a salve that heals unhealthy economies, why does he limit this question to spending “under Obama”? The recession officially began in December 2007, when total combined government spending was $4,637 billion. Thus, from the outset of the recession through the second quarter of 2010, spending has risen 19% in a period with 4% inflation.

On top of this, in the four years leading up to the recession, total combined government expenditures grew by 21% with 13% inflation.

2. As Richmond aptly noted, The New York Times piece did not include transfer payments in its analysis of the federal budget, which includes – but is not limited to – Social Security and welfare payments. Since when do Social Security and welfare not count in federal spending? In reality, total federal spending has grown significantly over the last three years (See Chart 2), and the totality of local, state and federal spending combined has gone up as well. (See Chart 1)

CHART 1                                                          CHART 2

[Credit for the creation of both graphs goes to Agresti]

3. When I mentioned this myth to an economist friend, he guessed the argument from the left would be that tax revenues are too low. Liberals are correct that tax revenues are low by historical standards – according to the Tax Policy Center (TPC), revenues are near record lows as compared to Gross Domestic Product, and have been at these low levels for longer than any three-year period since just after World War II. However, this argument only goes so far. Consider:

A. According to TPC, last year’s revenues were 15.4% of GDP. If revenues hit 20% of GDP in 2011 (a percentage surpassed only three times since 1934, which is as far back as the TPC chart goes), this means revenues would be up by 30%.

B. 30% greater revenues is a significant amount of money – about $690 billion.

C. However, $690 billion is barely more than half of the $1.3 trillion deficit the nation boasted in 2011.

D. To recap: if revenues hit near-record levels in 2011, we would still have had a deficit in 2011 of $610 billion.

High spending didn’t start with President Obama or even President Bush, but both of these men have been the Executives who let the problem get out of control. Few in either party are willing to step up and prevent the coming fiscal collapse that people like Senator Coburn (R-OK) are predicting, yet it must be done. If we don’t start slashing spending, eliminating federal bureaucracies, eviscerating fraud/waste/abuse/duplication, aggressively reforming entitlements and starting over on the tax code, my generation (the “Debt-Paying Generation”) will suffer greatly. Unfortunately, people like Norris who should know better are willing to create cheap (no pun intended) talking points instead of informing Americans of this reality.

 

Dustin Siggins is an associate producer with The Laura Ingraham Show and co-author with William Beach of The Heritage Foundation on a forthcoming book about the national debt. The opinions expressed are his own.

This post was promoted from GreenRoom to HotAir.com.
To see the comments on the original post, look here.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Truth is truth….

Can I have a Amen?

Electrongod on May 8, 2012 at 10:02 PM

We have a fainter…

Electrongod on May 8, 2012 at 10:02 PM

Water…..any one have water?

Electrongod on May 8, 2012 at 10:03 PM

Does anyone have Koolaid2?

Electrongod on May 8, 2012 at 10:03 PM

Another liberal myth down the drain

Joe the Plumber is smiling.

Electrongod on May 8, 2012 at 10:05 PM

Did Obama activate the….Internet Kill Switch?

Electrongod on May 8, 2012 at 10:05 PM

Good post.

Does anyone have a link to the dataset of charts 1 and 2?

joana on May 8, 2012 at 10:06 PM

Government spending is the foundation of their power and they aren’t going to give it up without a bloody battle. As long as these folks can still buy my neighbor’s vote with my money, they’ll continue to play that game until the whole scheme collapses.
And then they’ll scream that it was all because of the greedy bankers…..or somebody.

Lew on May 8, 2012 at 10:07 PM

I’m stopping you, okay?

Bmore on May 8, 2012 at 10:07 PM

If spending really had declined, don’t they think they would have used that fact to take the air out of Tea Party instead of getting their heads handed to them in 2010?

KW64 on May 8, 2012 at 10:08 PM

OT: Romney rags on Obama’s stupid Julia cartoon.

The Count on May 8, 2012 at 10:07 PM

Bazinga!

Where’s the “Romney will go soft on Obama” crowd?

joana on May 8, 2012 at 10:10 PM

He mentioned the website “justfacts.com”. Great website and barely ever mentioned by people. Go to it and donate if you have a chance.

Coolidge on May 8, 2012 at 10:13 PM

High spending didn’t start with President Obama or even President Bush, but both of these men have been the Executives who let the problem get out of control. Few in either party are willing to step up and prevent the coming fiscal collapse that people like Senator Coburn (R-OK) are predicting, yet it must be done.

So Romney’s gonna fix this? You be trippin’

ronval912 on May 8, 2012 at 10:14 PM

Composite Math.

fogw on May 8, 2012 at 10:17 PM

Look on the bright side. When the whole house of cards collapses, no one in government will be getting paid.

GarandFan on May 8, 2012 at 10:20 PM

Tell us something we don’t know, motherfletcher.

Lanceman on May 8, 2012 at 10:27 PM

Something happened in early 2007, January that made those curves go so steep that they almost bent backward.

Who happened in early 2007? I won’t say their name but her initials are Nanzy Pelosi.

jukin3 on May 8, 2012 at 10:29 PM

So Romney’s gonna fix this? You be trippin’

ronval912 on May 8, 2012 at 10:14 PM

Granted, he’s not the heart transplant we need, but this time around I’ll settle for a stent.

Tim Zank on May 8, 2012 at 10:32 PM

Granted, he’s not the heart transplant we need, but this time around I’ll settle for a stent.

Can you say “died on the table”?

ronval912 on May 8, 2012 at 10:34 PM

Doesn’t mean the leftonians won’t use this until the end of time anyway.

Bishop on May 8, 2012 at 10:35 PM

You have to admire people who can triple the debtand claim to have reduced spending. You would think that they would worry about offending constituents by calling them stupid but no siree, they are sticking with it.

Cindy Munford on May 8, 2012 at 10:38 PM

Does anyone have Koolaid2?

Electrongod on May 8, 2012 at 10:03 PM

…no!…but I have a beer…and I’m going to guzzle one for you!

KOOLAID2 on May 8, 2012 at 11:02 PM

Last week, a New York Times piece by Floyd Norris, Chief Financial Correspondent for the NY Times and The International Herald Tribune, claimed government spending has gone down under President Obama. The claim, which relies on half-truths and incorporates only certain areas of spending in the federal government

…and this is what “Journalists” will be doing until November

KOOLAID2 on May 8, 2012 at 11:07 PM

Last week, a New York Times piece by Floyd Norris, Chief Financial Correspondent for the NY Times and The International Herald Tribune, claimed government spending has gone down under President Obama. The claim, which relies on half-truths and incorporates only certain areas of spending in the federal government, has been debunked by others – Morgen Richmond already hit it on the Hot Air main page, for example – but I think it deserves further shredding.

Go to Debt to the Penny, and search on the periods:
1/20/2001 – 4/20/2004 and
1/20/2009 – 4/20/2012.

Deficit spending (increase in total national debt) during President George W. Bush’s first 3.25 years in office =
Total Debt on 4/20/2004 – Total Debt on 1/20/2001 =
$7,141,785,769,842.52 – $5,727,776,738,304.64 =
$1,414,009,031,537.88 ($1.414 Trillion)

Deficit spending (increase in total national debt) during pResident Barack H. Obama’s first 3.25 years in office =
Total Debt on 4/20/2012 – Total Debt on 1/20/2009 =
$15,617,358,530,369.93 – $10,626,877,048,913.08 =
$4,990,481,481,456.85 ($4.990 Trillion)

========

In his first 3.25 years that President George W. Bush was in office, the total national debt grew by $1.414 Trillion.

In his first 3.25 years that President Barack H. Obama was in office, the total national debt grew by $4.990 Trillion.

The rate at which the national debt grew under Obama is MORE THAN 3.5 TIMES the rate at which the national debt grew under George W. Bush for the comparable time period!

ITguy on May 8, 2012 at 11:13 PM

Mr. Siggens, with all due respect, you have made a very serious error -specifically speaking of “reforming entitlements”…

The whole idea of “entitlements” is fundamentally, logically, morally, philosophically, legally/governmentally wrong. It’s a bad idea.

And bad ideas can’t be reformed; they can only be perpetuated or abandoned. No other options exist, nor are possible.

To refer to “entitlement reform” is to concede and legitimize something that should not be conceded nor legitimized; to do so is to aid and abet those on the wrong side… the bad guys.

Entitlement REPEAL is what we need; “entitlement reform” = perpetuation of the problem.

This is plain fact.

GuitarMark on May 8, 2012 at 11:24 PM

The same is true about the “Myth of the Austerity bogeyman.”

Europe, How Can You Have Any Pudding If You Don’t Eat Yer Meat?

Resist We Much on May 8, 2012 at 11:33 PM

Who controlled the purse strings starting in Jan 2007? Dems. I fault Bush for not vetoing enough but the spending before Pelosi/Reid was way lower deficit-wise than they took it.

DavidM on May 8, 2012 at 11:33 PM

Who controlled the purse strings starting in Jan 2007? Dems. I fault Bush for not vetoing enough but the spending before Pelosi/Reid was way lower deficit-wise than they took it.

DavidM on May 8, 2012 at 11:33 PM

The last Republican-majority budget was for Fiscal Year 2007 (which goes October 1, 2006 – September 30, 2007). That last Republican budget increased the total national debt by $501 Billion during that Fiscal Year.

EVERY DEMOCRAT-MAJORITY BUDGET SINCE THEN HAS INCREASED THE TOTAL NATIONAL DEBT BY OVER $1 TRILLION, EACH AND EVERY YEAR FOR THE LAST 5 YEARS.

Go to Debt to the Penny, and to Historical Debt Outstanding to see the total debt numbers. Democrats took majority control of the House, Senate, and therefore majority control of the budgeting and spending process, on January 3, 2007. It’s been 5 years and 4 months since then. In just 5 and 1/3 years, the Democrats have increased the total national debt by almost $7 Trillion. That’s an average of $1.3 Trillion per year, compared to the last Republican deficit of $0.5 Trillion in FY 2007. The Democrats are spending at a rate that is more than 2.5 as much as the Republicans!

ITguy on May 8, 2012 at 11:49 PM

High spending didn’t start with President Obama or even President Bush, but both of these men have been the Executives who let the problem get out of control.

There’s a big difference between deficit spending intended to prevent the country from falling into a depression in the aftermath of one of the greatest financial disasters in the nation’s history and the fiscal policies of previous administrations.

The rate at which the national debt grew under Obama is MORE THAN 3.5 TIMES the rate at which the national debt grew under George W. Bush for the comparable time period!

ITguy on May 8, 2012 at 11:13 PM

You really are quite dim. Do you understand that Obama inherited nearly a $1 trillion structural deficit, according to both the CBO and Wall Street economists? Are you capable of comprehending that during an economic crisis you cannot enact deep spending cuts?
If you want to live in a country that’s experiencing the wonders of austerity, move to Greece.

bayam on May 8, 2012 at 11:57 PM

There’s a big difference between deficit spending intended to prevent the country from falling into a depression in the aftermath of one of the greatest financial disasters in the nation’s history and the fiscal policies of previous administrations.

Ah yes, the typical liberal stance that ‘intentions’ are all that matter.

The rate at which the national debt grew under Obama is MORE THAN 3.5 TIMES the rate at which the national debt grew under George W. Bush for the comparable time period!

ITguy on May 8, 2012 at 11:13 PM

You really are quite dim. Do you understand that Obama inherited nearly a $1 trillion structural deficit, according to both the CBO and Wall Street economists? Are you capable of comprehending that during an economic crisis you cannot enact deep spending cuts?
If you want to live in a country that’s experiencing the wonders of austerity, move to Greece.

bayam on May 8, 2012 at 11:57 PM

Are you capable of comprehending the hard and fast numbers? Do you understand that Obama submitted budget after budget that was defeated 97-0 in the Senate? Are you aware of the amount the debt will increase thanks to Obamacare?

Or are you just wrapped up in spinning and making excuses for your Dear Leader?

I swear, liberals always blame someone else. They are nothing but children.

fossten on May 9, 2012 at 12:03 AM

You really are quite dim. Do you understand that Obama inherited nearly a $1 trillion structural deficit, according to both the CBO and Wall Street economists? Are you capable of comprehending that during an economic crisis you cannot enact deep spending cuts?
If you want to live in a country that’s experiencing the wonders of austerity, move to Greece.

bayam on May 8, 2012 at 11:57 PM

You really are quite dim. Are you aware that the Democrats held the purse strings from 2006-2008?

fossten on May 9, 2012 at 12:04 AM

bayam on May 8, 2012 at 11:57 PM

You need to send Ed a request for a moniker change. Change your name to FAIL.

f&@king ignoramus.

tom daschle concerned on May 9, 2012 at 12:23 AM

Liberals are insane. How long can make believe economics last?
Make believe defense policies?
Make believe crime statistics?
Make believe news?
Make Believe climate science?
Make believe energy policy?
A make believe President?
Real corruption. Real insanity.

pat on May 9, 2012 at 1:02 AM

You really are quite dim. Do you understand that Obama inherited nearly a $1 trillion structural deficit, according to both the CBO and Wall Street economists?

bayam on May 8, 2012 at 11:57 PM

You really are quite dim. Are you aware that the Democrats held the purse strings from 2006-2008?

fossten on May 9, 2012 at 12:04 AM

Thanks, fossten.

bayam, please tell us when the Democrats took majority control of the budgeting process, and what they “inherited” at that time. The tipping point in the balance of power was not January 2009. Do tell when you think it was, and how much the total national debt increased in the last Republican-majority fiscal year.

ITguy on May 9, 2012 at 1:26 AM

CALLING MRS. ‘CUDA…

leftnomore on May 9, 2012 at 1:28 AM

I swear, liberals always blame someone else. They are nothing but children.

fossten on May 9, 2012 at 12:03 AM

Your inability to comprehend reality beyond simple black and white contrasts is typical of conservatives and helps explain why real innovation in this country is done by people on the left and very rarely by anyone on the right.

bayam, please tell us when the Democrats took majority control of the budgeting process, and what they “inherited” at that time.

After all your posted numbers, do you really need help with that simple question? Over Bush’s first 6 years with the GOP in firm control and during a relatively strong period of economic growth, spending increased by over 40%. No Dems to blame here.

And yes, during massive recessions government spending goes up unless you want a repeat of the 1930′s or today’s Greece.

2007 United States federal budget – $2.8 trillion (submitted 2006 by President Bush)
2006 United States federal budget – $2.7 trillion (submitted 2005 by President Bush)
2005 United States federal budget – $2.4 trillion (submitted 2004 by President Bush)
2004 United States federal budget – $2.3 trillion (submitted 2003 by President Bush)
2003 United States federal budget – $2.2 trillion (submitted 2002 by President Bush)
2002 United States federal budget – $2.0 trillion (submitted 2001 by President Bush)

bayam on May 9, 2012 at 2:20 AM

Shut up, you excrement-peddling moron. FIVE TRILLION in Deficit spending under Obama, 2007-2010 with a Democrat-controlled congress. And THREE YEARS with NO budget passed just so they can hide it and Useful Idiots like you can LIE about it.

/

Obviously Floyd Norris got tired of Duranty this and Duranty that and decided to see if he could seize the prize for Biggest Liar at the NYT.

rayra on May 9, 2012 at 4:26 AM

As long as the US Senate DIMocrats do not pass a budget, you (bayam) do not have a leg to stand on…

If your party does not want to lead and solve the problem, get out of the way…

Khun Joe on May 9, 2012 at 6:49 AM

GuitarMark,

I agree with you that we should repeal all entitlement programs. I would do it over a 20 to 25-year period. However, I’ll accept raising the retirement age to 70 in the next two decades; means-testing; and offering privatization options as a compromise.

Joana, the data for the charts is below, via an Excel spreadsheet from Agresti, including his calculations. It’s a bit rough, since I just copied and pasted:

Government Current Receipts and Expenditures
[Billions of dollars]

Bureau of Economic Analysis
Line 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011

Current expenditures 510.2 552.2 600.3 656.3 729.9 846.5 966.9 1076.8 1171.7 1261 1370.9 1464 1540.5 1623.6 1741 1879.5 1984 2149 2229.4 2304 2412.5 2505.7 2581.1 2649.3 2761.9 2906 3093.6 3274.7 3458.6 3653.5 3916.4 4147.9 4430 4737.3 4999.7 5261.8 5409.9

Table 3.2. Federal Government Current Receipts and Expenditures
[Billions of dollars]
Bureau of Economic Analysis
Line 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
20
Current expenditures 348.3 376.7 410.1 452.9 500.9 589.5 676.7 752.6 819.5 881.5 953 1010.7 1045.9 1096.9 1172 1259.2 1320.3 1450.5 1504.3 1542.5 1614 1674.7 1716.3 1744.3 1796.2 1871.9 1979.8 2112.1 2261.5 2393.4 2573.1 2728.3 2900 3115.7 3450.4 3703.3 3752.6

Dustin Siggins on May 9, 2012 at 7:07 AM

There you go: if you get rid of all the entitlements, wealth transfer payments and the rest of the stuff government isn’t supposed to be doing, the government gets smaller!

Are you sure these guys weren’t arguing for the end of the entire entitlement system from the LEFT by putting those numbers together in that way? Sneak it in under the radar, mayhap?

No, I don’t believe that either, but its a fun meme to float!

‘Yeah, they’re right, lets get rid of SSA, Medicare and the rest of that stuff to get those numbers!’

Fun, fun, fun!

ajacksonian on May 9, 2012 at 7:38 AM

OT: Romney rags on Obama’s stupid Julia cartoon.
The Count on May 8, 2012 at 10:07 PM

I wish AP would have done a post about this.

Romney is right on target here.

bluegill on May 9, 2012 at 7:45 AM

After all your posted numbers, do you really need help with that simple question? Over Bush’s first 6 years with the GOP in firm control and during a relatively strong period of economic growth, spending increased by over 40%. No Dems to blame here.

And yes, during massive recessions government spending goes up unless you want a repeat of the 1930′s or today’s Greece.

2007 United States federal budget – $2.8 trillion (submitted 2006 by President Bush)
2006 United States federal budget – $2.7 trillion (submitted 2005 by President Bush)
2005 United States federal budget – $2.4 trillion (submitted 2004 by President Bush)
2004 United States federal budget – $2.3 trillion (submitted 2003 by President Bush)
2003 United States federal budget – $2.2 trillion (submitted 2002 by President Bush)
2002 United States federal budget – $2.0 trillion (submitted 2001 by President Bush)

bayam on May 9, 2012 at 2:20 AM

You love to cherrypick your facts – they mean nothing.

For example, do you understand the difference between spending and deficits? What is the difference between Bush’s deficits and Obama’s deficits?

And deficits are ABSOLUTELY important during a recession. You increase them, you’re looking at a disaster.

But I wouldn’t expect someone who believes the left built this country to understand that.

fossten on May 9, 2012 at 8:01 AM

You really are quite dim. Do you understand that Obama inherited nearly a $1 trillion structural deficit, according to both the CBO and Wall Street economists? Are you capable of comprehending that during an economic crisis you cannot enact deep spending cuts?
If you want to live in a country that’s experiencing the wonders of austerity, move to Greece.

bayam on May 8, 2012 at 11:57 PM

A) it is not a fact that you can’t cut spending during a recession. There is no proof that such is true and Keynesian economics has failed each time it has been tried (such the great depression where most economists now agree that the new deal prolonged the depression) – including Obama’s idiotic stimulus.

B) Even taking your Keynesian view as true, Obama did more than not just cut spending – he increased deficit spending radically. So your point is a lie to begin with.

C) Yes, bush increased spending dramatically also – which was bad and why the GOP is having internal wars to this day against the liberal branch and the conservative branch and, in fact, one of the reasons the tea party sprang up. Bush did a lot of non-conservative things – No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D. He wasn’t the conservative ogre your side made him out to be. I wish he was, but he wasn’t. But saying “Bush increased spending too” does not refute Obama’s incompetent spending binge.

So, your arguments are a) Obama had to spend (Keynes); b) Bush spent a lot too.

Both wholly ridiculous arguments.

Monkeytoe on May 9, 2012 at 8:19 AM

Government spending is the foundation of their power and they aren’t going to give it up without a bloody battle. As long as these folks can still buy my neighbor’s vote with my money, they’ll continue to play that game until the whole scheme collapses.
And then they’ll scream that it was all because of the greedy bankers…..or somebody.

Lew on May 8, 2012 at 10:07 PM

You are 100% spot on.

Are you capable of comprehending that during an economic crisis you cannot enact deep spending cuts?

bayam on May 8, 2012 at 11:57 PM

That’s exactly what I have to do when I don’t have any money, champ. Live within my resources. Go no further into debt and spend nothing on frivolities for my buddies, like Solyndra.

Our government spends truckloads on things it absolutely does not need to.

Monkeytoe on May 9, 2012 at 8:19 AM

Also spot on and well said.

dogsoldier on May 9, 2012 at 8:33 AM

Keep repeating the lies & someone will believe them.
Squeaky wheel gets the grease.
That is what will win.
So is the GOP going to get louder about this crap, or what?

Badger40 on May 9, 2012 at 8:50 AM

2007 United States federal budget – $2.8 trillion (submitted 2006 by President Bush)
2006 United States federal budget – $2.7 trillion (submitted 2005 by President Bush)
2005 United States federal budget – $2.4 trillion (submitted 2004 by President Bush)

Pretty sure if you add 1.5t to each of the totals above, you would have President Raffle’s budgets…IF HE HAD ONE THAT WAS VOTED ON BY EVEN ONE DEMOCRAT!!

askwhatif on May 9, 2012 at 10:54 AM

Exactly how deceived are the people that buy into this drivel?

sdbatboy on May 9, 2012 at 11:04 AM