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Has Barack Obama Slowed Spending More Than Any President In Sixty Years?

Submitted by on July 13, 2012 – 10:50 amNo Comment

The number wonks are fighting again. In an article titled “Obama spending binge never happened,” MarketWatch’s Rex Nutting threw down the gauntlet by declaring that contrary to the image of the president as a big spender, federal spending has grown at it’s slowest rates since the 1950s under Barack Obama. Conservative commentors immediately threw a fit, and much of the argument revolves around the federal budget for the fiscal year 2009.

(Of course, Nutting is writing for the known liberal rag… The Wall Street Journal?!?!)

Nutting argues that the 2009 budget, like all budgets for years with new administrations, should be credited to the old administration. The FY2009 budget was submitted by Pres. George W. Bush and passed by Congress before Pres. Obama was sworn in- but it was ultimately signed by Obama months after the fiscal year had begun.

So, Nutting attributes the massive spending increases of that budget to Bush- and does the same in his calculations for all the other administrations as well. He says that the image of Obama spending “like a drunken sailor” is then the result of misunderstanding.

He goes on to argue that Obama has shown restraint in spending amidst economic conditions beyond his control:

Before Obama had even lifted a finger, the CBO was already projecting that the federal deficit would rise to $1.2 trillion in fiscal 2009. The government actually spent less money in 2009 than it was projected to, but the deficit expanded to $1.4 trillion because revenue from taxes fell much further than expected, due to the weak economy and the emergency tax cuts that were part of the stimulus bill.

Nutting even gives credit to Congressional Republicans, claiming that they forced the president to lower spending in future budgets; but he points out that this would dispute conservative claims that Obama is “a king,” forcing through all of his wishes.

Still, as many have pointed out, this statistic refers to the rate of increase of spending, not the spending itself. But Nutting doesn’t stop there.

After adjusting for inflation, spending under Obama is falling at a 1.4% annual pace — the first decline in real spending since the early 1970s, when Richard Nixon was retreating from the quagmire in Vietnam.

Some have proclaimed that all of this is moot, because “the US hasn’t passed a federal budget in three years.” There’s some bizarre parliamentary truth to that, but obviously, Congress has passed spending resolutions and has spent money- or else the federal government would have shut down.

What do you think? Does this prove that spending has been down under Obama?

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