Obama's fiscal blowout never happened, according to Obama

Riffing on the re-election trail, President Obama often tells crowds that “We’ve got to move forward to the future we imagined in 2008.” An imaginary future from the past—got it. Then there’s the imaginary history of the past that Mr. Obama has been recounting lately, when his first-term spending and debt boom never happened. …

Mr. Nutting also has some fun toggling among Congressional Budget Office estimates, CBO baselines, White House budget proposals and actual spending to make the Obama record look better. To anyone who really knows the numbers, Mr. Obama’s spending has increased by closer to 5% a year. Comparing apples to apples, CBO says total federal spending was $2.98 trillion in 2008 and has risen every year to reach $3.72 trillion in Mr. Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget.

The larger conceptual error of the Nutting-Obama-Carney troika is neglecting to compare the budget to the size of the economy. The best perspective on how outlays, tax receipts and deficits change over time is as a share of GDP. Those data reveal historical trends because they account for different inflation rates and include changes over society as a whole like population growth.