Obama: The Biggest Spender In World History

| June 22 2012
Christopher Cook

Not so long ago, commentator Rex Nutting threw the president a gift: He did an analysis of federal spending that magically didn’t include Obama’s first year, in order to show that Obama is not the big spender he is accused of being. Obama immediately picked up the claim and waved it in all our faces, like Neville Chamberlain standing on an airfield proclaiming peace for our time. Of course, Obama’s claim was no more valid than the promises held aloft in Chamberlain’s document.

In a piece in Forbes last week, Peter Ferrera debunks the Nutting/Obama claim, beginning by addressing an interesting debate among the president’s critics. Is Obama, as Peggy Noonan suggested, totally oblivious, actually believing himself to be a frugal sort, or is Obama engaged in “calculated deception”?

Whatever the answer is, it is clear that it is deception, whether calculated or inadvertent:

In sharp contrast to Reagan, Obama’s first major legislative initiative was the so-called stimulus, which increased future federal spending by nearly a trillion dollars, the most expensive legislation in history up till that point.  We know now, as thinking people knew at the time, that this record shattering spending bill only stimulated government spending, deficits and debt.  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.

But this was just a warm up for Obama’s Swedish socialism.  Obama worked with Pelosi’s Democratic Congress to pass an additional, $410 billion, supplemental spending bill for fiscal year 2009, which was too much even for big spending President Bush, who had specifically rejected it in 2008.  Next in 2009 came a $40 billion expansion in the SCHIP entitlement program, as if we didn’t already have way more than too much entitlement spending.

But those were just the preliminaries for the biggest single spending bill in world history, Obamacare, enacted in March, 2010.  That legislation is not yet even counted in Obama’s spending record so far because it mostly does not go into effect until 2014.  But it is now scored by CBO as increasing federal spending by $1.6 trillion in the first 10 years alone, with trillions more to come in future years.

After just one year of the Obama spending binge, federal spending had already rocketed to 25.2% of GDP, the highest in American history except for World War II.  That compares to 20.8% in 2008, and an average of 19.6% during Bush’s two terms.  The average during President Clinton’s two terms was 19.8%, and during the 60-plus years from World War II until 2008 — 19.7%.  Obama’s own fiscal 2013 budget released in February projects the average during the entire 4 years of the Obama Administration to come in at 24.4% in just a few months.  That budget shows federal spending increasing from $2.983 trillion in 2008 to an all time record $3.796 trillion in 2012, an increase of 27.3%.

Moreover, before Obama there had never been a deficit anywhere near $1 trillion.  The highest previously was $458 billion, or less than half a trillion, in 2008. The federal deficit for the last budget adopted by a Republican controlled Congress was $161 billion for fiscal year 2007.  But the budget deficits for Obama’s four years were reported in Obama’s own 2013 budget as $1.413 trillion for 2009, $1.293 trillion for 2010, $1.3 trillion for 2011, and $1.327 trillion for 2012, four years in a row of deficits of $1.3 trillion or more, the highest in world history.

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.  That means in just one term President Obama will have increased the national debt as much as all prior Presidents, from George Washington to George Bush, combined.

It is a comparatively long piece, but the whole thing is worth a read, not just for coverage of Obama’s spending record, but also for history about Reagan’s record and predictions based on the Ryan budget.

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