There seems to be an increasing amount of rhetoric about government spendinghow much of it there is, whether or not it’s affordable, the extent to which Obama is bankrupting the nation, that government spending is “crowding out” what the private sector might spend, etc., etc.  So, does it wash?

Most readers will have already picked up on the fact that I’ve taken to using the “indexing” feature at FRED, as it allows for level-playing-field, apples-to-apples comparisons of various metrics over different time periods.  For a variety of reasons, such comparisons are sometimes hard to make, but without them it is often difficult to contextualize data.  A great introduction to indexing is provided here at the website of the Dallas Fed (Indexing 101, if you’ll pardon the bad joke).

That said, exactly what has been going on with government spending over the last five presidencies (FGCE at FRED)?

(As always, click through for ginormous.  Indexed periods are started at Q1 of each president’s term and run through Q1 of the following president’s term.)

While the chart above provides the big picture (no pun intended) on federal spending, I know the immediate criticism will be that – for reasons that get far too political to discuss here – we need to strip out defense spending.  Agreed.  So let’s do exactly that, and revisit the chart looking at only nondefense spending (FNDEFX):

Not to leave anyone in suspense, here’s the scorecard five quarters from the inaugural quarter (i.e. 100 at inauguration through the sixth quarter of the presidency):

  • Reagan — 100.9
  • Bush Sr. — 115.6
  • Clinton — 100.2
  • Bush Jr. — 115.1
  • Obama — 109.5

More on this file when we get the third quarter GDP numbers later this month, but it would appear the facts speak for themselves.

Category: Current Affairs, Economy, Taxes and Policy, War/Defense

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

67 Responses to “Hey, Big Spender”

  1. Thank you for finding these charts, Invictus.

    This is precisely why I have believed the Tea Party has been corrupted by hard right GOP partisans. The legitimate issues raised were for some reason mostly ignored during the prior 8 years. That makes whatever credibility the Tea partiers had to began with hard to reconcile with the data above.

    I believe in Fiscal Discipline when EITHER party is in control — and not just one side. That is my biggest issue with the Tea-ers. Dick Armey & Co. ignores the simple reality of past deficit spending. Whatever Obama’s fiscal issues are, recall he inherited the mess from his predecessor — and as the charts show, he has a long way to go to match GWB in fiscal recklessness.

    Hence, why I say that most born again deficit hawks REdiscovered fiscal prudence on Jan 20, 2009.

  2. viewwin says:

    I would like to see the same numbers with revenue, just to magnify how bad tax revenues slipped for the government. If you wanted to deep dive, I would be nice to see it broken out by catgories for spending and revenue.

  3. jmsvett says:

    Didn’t Obama say during his CNBC town hall meeting that we can not afford a tax cut for the rich? That tells me we are insolvent.

  4. InterestedObserver says:

    The objective story…

    1. No difference in propensity to spend, underscores the similarities of the two parties.
    2. Probably have fundamentally different spending targets at their core, and there could be a worthwhile debate over that. As though that could ever happen.
    3. The cut taxes at all costs ethic, coupled with (1), is a disaster waiting to happen for either party.

    It’s not a lot different than any other subject. X is great when I hold the keys, and probably the greatest threat to democracy when the other side has the keys. That’s what happens when it governing by hyperbole and innuendo, unfortunately hyperbole and innuendo seem to work in elections.

    In any event, a nice piece of objective data for anyone to chew on….

    IO

  5. subprimednready says:

    You’ve been on fire lately. I like to see a comparison of the impact on tax cuts versus interest rate cuts on economic activity.

  6. NickAthens says:

    The point is not so much to single out Obama but rather point out that continuing this spending that has been done by both parties is over. Like musical chairs Obama just happens to be the one on watch after a long list of spenders in both parties. As a result he ends up being the one without a chair.

    Surely you are not suggesting we should continue such spending for the future.

  7. Invictus,

    you should link BR’s ~”Corp.-tacracy vs. You”-piece to this one..

    but, past that, let’s stay mired in the ‘Left-Right’-paradigm–you know, so as not to be seen as ‘stepping out of line’/committing ‘Thoughtcrime’..

    or, differently, this type of psuedo-Partisan G*rbage is a distraction/waste of Time..(and, formerly, good Pixels)

    and, w/this: “More on this file when we get the third quarter GDP numbers later this month, but it would appear the facts speak for themselves.”

    Please, don’t. There has to be better use of one’s cognition, even if it’s http://search.yippy.com/search?input-form=clusty-simple&v%3Asources=webplus&v%3Aproject=clusty&query=Fractals+in+Art+and+Music

  8. jmccas says:

    I think it would be even more powerful to break out periods of time where power was split i.e. where a Republican was in the white house but the democrats controlled Congress. Looking at Reagan and Clinton, you can assume with a split in power, costs were lower.

  9. robertgrumbles says:

    Great post. I don’t think I’ll be voting for any party this election season

    http://robertgrumbles.blogspot.com/

  10. Just read your disclosures. I’ll elaborate.

    Given that Obama started in a recession and absolutely had to provide some sort of stimulous, I have to say that he’s done an ok job on spending. Personally, I’ll give him a C.

    That being said, I’m a small government, lower taxes kind of guy. We certainly didn’t get that from democrats this time around, and the leadership I was hoping for from them was lackluster at best. On the other hand, republicans have not shown a willingness to tackle the big 3 of spending: social security, defense, and medicare/medicaid and they certainly aren’t in line with my social views. Until we tackle these big spending issues, I won’t be voting for them either. Unfortunately it looks like my only option is to abstain from most of my votes this political season. I haven’t researched the candidates yet, so I’m hoping I’ll be suprised by one of them stating what needs to be done. Unfortunately in our country, I don’t see it happening. People want lower taxes but they don’t want to cut any benefits. Sorry people, it doesn’t work like that.

  11. Invictus says:

    @jmccas

    An excellent point, and one to which I have given some thought. If I can get around to it, I will, but the fact of the matter is that BR simply does not pay me enough.

  12. Tarkus says:

    The Bush Admin effectively eliminated regulation, so we know the money didn’t go there. Maybe it went to Billy Tauzin’s (R-La) gift to big pharma. Or those no-bid contracts to “friends of Dick”.

    I’m not sure what the rationale is for stripping out gov’t spending on defense in the count when the previous administration did it themselves by funding the wars with “supplementals”.

    The Great Recession blew a hole in the revenue base – a parting gift from 8 years of a frat-boy party.

  13. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    That we even have to use different processes, paradigms and metrics to determine the value of anything is proof that we are looking at nothing more than smoke and mirrors. Mathematics and opinion/dictat have equal footing. Fiat vs. Fiat vs. Reality. Complexity — in both the law and accounting principles and standards — has occluded our ability to establish a bottom line. It has gotten so bad, we no longer even see, and thus, do not account for, the unemployed.

    There is no such thing as “new” math. There is no real value in any asset “marked to fantasy.” There is no such thing as a “dollar” — as the word and its related ideological construct fail to define that which they were created to define: a set unit of value. There is no such thing as a valid “New Financial Product” any more than there is such a thing as a free lunch.

    It is said that Ronald Reagan said, “deficits don’t matter.” What he apparently meant, was that truth doesn’t matter, and by ignoring it or redefining it, we don’t ever have to pay for any of this shit.

    Thank god for an ignorant population, the vast majority of whom looks at a Federal Reserve Note and sees face value where there is no real value (George Washington Never Tells a Lie). Who, in an age of US hegemony, failed to understand who, what, when, why, and how their “money” became debt owed to banks. Who fail(ed) to understand that the complexity in the perpetual wealth machine is there solely to cover the fraud being hidden behind it.

    It’s time to purge our system of all of this shit. When reality reasserts itself, the social cost won’t be measured in dollars.

  14. ACS says:

    Defense spending is one of the biggest problems. Virtually nothing spent is for the true defense of America. The money is spent on insane empire building and wars that make us hated around the globe and less secure at home. The military-industrial complex is far worse than the bankers. Even GS doesn’t get people poinlessly killed.

  15. Bruman says:

    I’m basically on board with this analysis, but the obvious wrinkle is that it is ultimately Congress that controls the spending and not the President. Jmccas gets at this. It may make more sense to break this down into rates of spending increases by congressional (2-year) intervals. Fortunately, these divide evenly into presidencies.

    In fact, you could do % increase for eery 2 year periods as a bar chart, and then overlay your spending index as a line chart on top of it

    That was just a suggestion: I don’t mean to come across as micromanaging from the peanut gallery. Overall, I like what you’ve done here.

  16. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    “Virtually nothing spent is for the true defense of America.”
    ______________

    The semantics of wealth/power transfer.

    Eisenhower and Smedley Butler (the greatest American TPTB have ever written out of the history books), tried to warn us.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smedley_Butler

  17. wally says:

    Spending is one thing; what you get for your money is another.
    Halliburton or unemployment benefits or highways or happy millionaires… you have to weigh it out.

  18. Lugnut says:

    Very small point in a larger issue @ petey

    “It is said that Ronald Reagan said, “deficits don’t matter.” What he apparently meant, was that truth doesn’t matter, and by ignoring it or redefining it, we don’t ever have to pay for any of this shit.”

    It was Cheney who said, and his comment was in reference to Reagan, saying “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter” by Repubs winning the midterms.

    And it was a point Dick and George took to heart. When politics matter more than what you are actually doing to the country, anything is possible I suppose.

  19. jnutley says:

    ACS:

    When I read these two charts, I see that W. Bush, starting near-unilateral wars in two theaters only raised his consumption by ~12% (20/170). Clinton’s consumption looks like the best of the bunch and is better with defense _in_; implying to me that he balanced his administration’s spending by cutting defense spending.

    So your implied model of “Military bankrupts the U.S.” only works for Regan’s administration, which was a Cold War administration.

  20. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    wally:

    Before you weigh it out, you have to have a standard against which to weigh it.

    Maybe the world should abandon the metric system (we STILL haven’t adopted the metric system, as a matter of politics. Is it any wonder we’re screwed? Welcome to the USA, where everything is faith-based fiat), in favor of one that lets he who is doing the weighing arbitrarily define the counter-weight.

    What could go wrong?

  21. Freestate says:

    The bottom line on government spending is simple: believe what people do not what people say. And the reality is that everyone likes government spending if they are the beneficiary. My very wealthy Republican farming relatives will decry welfare as they drive to post office to pick up their farm subsidy checks. Every corporate will madly scramble for government bailouts or government subsidies as they complain about the size of government and the intrusion of government into the private sector. Our political leaders simply respond to the dichotomy of behavior in voters’ heads. Their rhetoric speaks to the stated beliefs in small government. Their actions fulfill the voters’ desire for government spending from which they will personally benefit. If we actually have to cut government spending there will be a large, painful chorus from both the left and right opposed to any major, specific reductions. People say they like smaller government, but their behavior says otherwise.

  22. Kort says:

    Why do people blindly associate “Tea Party” with Reagan of 30 years ago or Bush of 10 years ago? Neither were Tea Partiers. It’s Ok to say yes—Reagan and Bush made the goverment bigger and yes, a Tea Party wants to shrink the goverment. Two separate groups.

    As for charts like this, it’s Congress that sets, votes and passes the budgets. The Democrats took control in January 2007, nearly 4 years ago. That budget had all Ds voting for it, and all Rs voting against it. The Ds were not on Pelosi and Reid, but also a Senator from Illinois…ditto for 2008, 2009, 2010…

  23. rktbrkr says:

    Anybody can cut taxes if they don’t care about the ramifications, ditto starting illegal wars (without congressional vote like that “old piece of paper” requires).

  24. rktbrkr says:

    I always knew that if you wanted mideastern wars and attendant high energy prices then you wanted a Bush in the White House, turns out they’re the biggest spenders too!

    Ranking the spenders
    1) Bush the Elder
    2) Bush the Lesser
    3) O’Bama
    4) Raygun
    5) Clinton

    Associating Republicans with prosperity is as erroneous as associating them with fiscal discipline.

  25. Dennis the menace says:

    I agree with the comments of hypocrisy — but do not let the real issue get lost in the tea party foolishness — the deficit is a real problem, and unfortunately, the TeaBaggers let themselves get hijacked by party hacks.

    But huge deficits are an issue (and yes, dealing with them during expansions is better) and they need to be addressed sooner rather than later.

  26. Hugh says:

    Where is TARP in all of this? Is it included in Q4 of 2008? That would leave the Obama Administration with an inflated base, as would the 2008 stimulus.

    Interesting graphs but I’m not too sure they help in understanding what’s going on.

    I have read that 2010 spending is 21% higher than 2008 spending (without TARP) but I’m not seeing this in these numbers – whassup?

  27. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    There can absolutely, positively, factually be no real/structural deficit in a fiat currency/reserve currency universe. The illusion of limited money supply (an illusion reinforced by lopsided distribution policies), spawns the illusion of deficit spending. We’ll never pay our debt in strong dollars. We might not pay it at all, in real terms, as there is no mechanism by which, or market in which, we can crate enough real wealth to cover our fiat debt. We know it and the rest of the world knows it.

  28. daf48 says:

    Thanks to BR for shedding some light on reality. Just another example of how the oligarchy keeps the rest of us fooled by offering this two party BS as reality. Another whopper that is told that the financial crisis was responsible for losing 8 million jobs. The economy has been shedding jobs for a decade. And the next time you suits get on your blackberry or iPhone, just remember who assembled it and where. The blame game doesn’t work because we’re all complicit in a corrupt economic and political system. May god have mercy on our souls.

  29. Mannwich says:

    @Petey: But I honestly think that willful mass ignorance is the secret sauce or key to “keeping it all together” in a strange way, don’t you? And it’s not as if our pppulace is getting any smarter, so maybe this can continue for a lot longer than people think?

  30. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    Manny:

    Yes. I agree. I will continue until all people have left to pay is attention.

  31. NoKidding says:

    As I’m apparently the lone righty here, I have to ask you to please turn on a few brain cells and look at the definition of this metric. You are judging federal spending by president (and extending that to political affiliation) based on budgets indexed to the first budget they sign.

    Does that make sense? Think about it for two seconds.

    If you scale spending increase to facial hair density, Rutherford B Hayes is the thriftiest of all – and that metric is about as strong as the one Invictus has constructed here.

  32. NoKidding says:

    Want a relevant measure of willingness to spend? Index versus the average of all budgets from the preceding president.

    Then Clinton will remain where he belonds: at the top.
    Obama will go where he belongs: at the bottom.

    The bushes will join most other unexceptional presidents in the muddled middle.

  33. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    NoKidding:

    Oh! Good! Politics!

    It makes as much sense as a war paying for itself, or deregulating the banks, or protecting those who have looted our treasury for personal gain/enrichment of cronies, or the idea that gay people will destroy our society, or outing a spy and beating a treason rap, or the idea that making the wealthy wealthier will make everyone wealthier, or that a brain-dead woman would be okay if liberals weren’t trying to murder her, or that corporations and our economy are one and the same.

    it makes selective sense.

  34. ACS says:

    Yes Clinton was clearly the least worst of the bunch but even he couldn’t resist the urge to meddle in the Balkans and Somalia. Both parties use military spending for political gain, treating it as so much pork while happily supporting intervention to show how “patriotic” they are. If you really want to support the troops, stop sending them all over to kill and be killed.

  35. NoKidding says:

    Petey,

    Just responding to what was written. Everything Invictus posts is political. Thats his schtick.

    You did not address the point: the metric being used to judge spending here is foolish.

  36. Arequipa01 says:

    How about alittle left-right razzamadazz? For all you guys and gals shopping for tricorn hats and wigs (latent trannies that you are):

    Tea Party is a proto-fascist movement. And they will spend in ways that make the real Bushazis and their banker buddies look like shriners in fezes. (Point being the oligarchy is dumping the ‘horns of a dilemma’ strategy and doing the pre-Pinochet.)

    http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/10/joe-miller-security-guards-detain-journalist-at-town-hall-meeting-video.php?ref=fpb

  37. Invictus says:

    @NoKidding

    Everything Invictus posts is political.

    That statement is demonstrably false, for starters. An analysis of my work at any of the three blogs I’ve written at would prove as much.

    Am I a left-leaning Democrat? Yes. And I’ve never made any bones about it. That said, I always endeavor to write fact-based, data-dependent posts wherever I write. Frankly, I have been somewhat disappointed with Obama’s handling of the economy, and have said as much. But that’s another post.

    The data are what the data are. If you’d like to perform your own analysis, I’d suggest going straight to the St. Louis Fed website to get your numbers. As Barry very correctly points out in the very first comment, “most born again deficit hawks REdiscovered fiscal prudence on Jan 20, 2009.” And the charts clearly bear that out. If you’ve got a legitimate rebuttal to make, then by all means do so — with supporting data and/or documentation. Otherwise it’s just mindless rhetoric.

  38. Pelle Schultz says:

    To correct an oft-misstated point: the US military intervention in Somalia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Restore_Hope) was authorized and started under GHW Bush. Clinton inherited it.

  39. ewmayer says:

    BTW, an interesting data point in light of Rogoff et al’s work showing that debt-to-GDP of 90% appears to be a kind of critical threshold … U.S. total debt outstanding (including SS borrowings) passed 90% this year:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_public_debt

    The accompanying charts also show a very clear upward ramp beginning (not surprisingly) at the end of Dubya’s term. You can point fingers of the “he was just a big a spender as I was” variety all you want, but the bottom line is, with revenues likely to remain depressed for at least a decade, the current fiscal trajectory is a fast path to the crisis we’ve been steering toward (and trying to grow, inflate and borrow-to-stimulate our way out of) for decades.

  40. winstonw says:

    This charting method is specious but highly misleading.
    BR is inferring the steeper the chart plot, the higher spending the govt.
    But there’s multiple artefacts created by this approach.

    An initial index of 100 is not equal across govts. 100 is dependent on the spend per capita of the previous govt. A previous govt that spent big raises a 100 index value for the following govt.

    It is a superficial and amateurish form of analysis. BR should commission some serious analysis by serious analysts, out of his trading profits, rather than pass off playing with FRED as highbrow.

  41. Lugnut says:

    ” As Barry very correctly points out in the very first comment, “most born again deficit hawks REdiscovered fiscal prudence on Jan 20, 2009.”

    To which I call typical HuffPo B.S.

    You really weren’t paying attention to the conservatives blasting their Congress Critters offices on a daily basis when Paulson’s 1 page ransom note and TARP I were being foisted on us. I’m a lifelong Republican, and I can’t recall a time before or since that I was more poltically proactive than back then in Fall of ’08 when I was hasrrasing my Congressmen than I was trying to block that crap. Calls/faxes against were 99-1, not that it stopped the railroad job from proceeding…. Even most Republican people I know who weren’t calling and faxing were still pretty pissed about it.

    PS – Unless this data is juxtaposed against the corresponding party in control of the House and Senate, for a given President for a given budget, it really has no useful context. Doesn’t matter who’s numbers you use, in that regard, if your wilfully ignorant to the realities of the budgeting process.

  42. DL says:

    Regardless of what these graphs may purport to show, I’m not a fan of Obama’s “stimulus” bills.

    Then there’s the TARP. It’s true that Bush started it, but now Obama controls it. What’s he doing with all the money that’s been paid back?

    Then there’s Obamacare. I think that the cost estimates are way, way too low.

  43. Arequipa01 says:

    Bernie Tauzin. That is the reply necessary for the CON-servatives who bleat ‘bbbbuuuuuut’ when confronted with the deal.

  44. [...] so I’ve got precious little to offer in the realm of education policy. However, I found this Invictus post over at the Big Picture to be telling. While the scooter store crowd is being whipped up over Team [...]

  45. Invictus says:

    @Lugnut

    You really weren’t paying attention to the conservatives blasting their Congress Critters offices on a daily basis when Paulson’s 1 page ransom note and TARP I were being foisted on us.

    Right. However, that fails to explain the seven years prior.

  46. gbgasser says:

    @Nickathens

    “Surely you are not suggesting we should continue such spending for the future.”

    Only if you want to buy something. Are you seriously suggesting that nothing needs to be purchased?

    We need to have a discussion about WHAT needs to be purchased but purchases must be made or there is NO economy.

    There are plenty of tyhings the govt needs to purchase since the private sector doesnt seem as willing to buy something as it usually is.

  47. Long term says:

    Why don’t Tea Party members ever organize rallies like “I personally volunteer to give up my Social Security benefit to reduct gov’t spending”? Or, “I refuse the Medicare Benefit”. Or, “I’ll pay for my OWN trash collection; thank you”.

    We ALL want smaller gov’t. Not smaller for ME; for YOU.

  48. Joe Friday says:

    ACS,

    “Yes Clinton was clearly the least worst of the bunch but even he couldn’t resist the urge to meddle in the Balkans and Somalia.”

    A) As Pelle pointed out, it was Poppy Bush that went into Somalia. Interestingly, Clinton handed the operation off to Colin Powell as he didn’t want it run out of the White House the way Bush did.. Everything was going along rather swimmingly until Powell decided to veer from the humanitarian mission and go after the war lord Aidid and the shit hit the fan.

    B) The Butcher of Belgrade and his minions were marauding around the Balkans slaughtering hundreds of thousands of innocents. When they crossed over into Northern Greece, the government invoked NATOs mutual defense agreement. We were bound by treaty to come to their assistance.

  49. Invictus says:

    @winstonw

    It is a superficial and amateurish form of analysis. BR should commission some serious analysis by serious analysts, out of his trading profits, rather than pass off playing with FRED as highbrow.

    It may not surprise you to learn that I disagree. It may surprise you to know that I’m in touch with one of the good folks from St. Looie from time to time, and occassionally bounce ideas off him either before or after they go up. I’ve learned a lot from him, and consider him a valuable resource. If he raises a yellow or red flag for me, or tells me I’m somehow off the mark, I take it very seriously. I’ll continue to have him as my economic sherpa, despite your apparent objection.

  50. Lugnut says:

    “Right. However, that fails to explain the seven years prior.”

    I fail to see where I was trying to explain the 7 years prior in the context of a single post. Stop moving the goalposts, chief.

  51. ZedLoch says:

    I’m betting that Obama will NOT be at the bottom of the pile in terms of fiscal prudence when all is said and done. Looking at his economic team, it doesn’t seem likely to me.

    Explaining the last two years: recession, stimulus, bailouts. Most of which inherited. Add to that accounting changes to reflect that actual budget deficit as Obama promised in 2008 (why!?)

    Also the is right hounding him for being a terrorist sympathizer, thus the 15% jump in defense spending, but he’ll get over it once we start pulling out of Afghanistan next year.

  52. M says:

    Of course there are two sides to the deficit question. Invictus rightly points out that spending by the O admin is not on an unusual trajectory for modern administrations. The problem is a free fall in revenues. PK has a nice chart showing that here: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/10/17/why-have-deficits-exploded/. The deficits that result from the spread are a serious problem and can’t be wiped out with fiscal magic. Depending on one’s political stripe and or economic modeling it may or may not make sense for the federal govt to carry the water for the states and municipalities during the downturn but to a large extent the O has been doing that — big tickets include grants to states/unemployment and so on. Given the hole that wants filling federal spending has been quite modest much to the despair of those who believe that federal spending can “prime the pump” of a an economy that’s sucking air. In any case, the numbers are the numbers. The O admin has not been a particularly large spender of real dollars but it is spending a lot more dollars than it is taking in. At some point the piper will need to be paid and it is very hard to see how that happens given our demographics, trade structure, “service” economy and so on… The projections are downright terrifying. I’m so unhappy with all this I figure: 1) it’s FUBAR and 2) that probably is a “buy” signal given the perversity of markets ;)

  53. ZedLoch says:

    @Kort

    “”As for charts like this, it’s Congress that sets, votes and passes the budgets. The Democrats took control in January 2007, nearly 4 years ago. That budget had all Ds voting for it, and all Rs voting against it.”

    Looking at the votes, its more complicated than that. And Bush did ultimately sign off on it. Also: if its the Dems fault, then explain 2002-2006…

    In FY 07, the big spending Dems added $18 billion to the $2.9 trillion budget, as Bush had increased defense at the expense of domestic programs. While the initial vote did split the aisle, a far greater majority (Republicans included) sent it to the President.

    So I guess we’re all pointing fingers at each other for the fiscal mess. And we’ll certainly see how serious these Tea Party folks are: who’s for real and who’s just a useless hack…the tax vote will be the first big indicator.

  54. ReadingFundamental says:

    “Yes Clinton was clearly the least worst of the bunch but even he couldn’t resist the urge to meddle in the Balkans and Somalia”

    Taking action in an attempt to stop massive GENOCIDE is not “meddling. ” That’s the only type of military action I want to see my country engaging in.

    We need to redirect 80% of our military spending to rebuilding our infrastructure.

  55. Invictus says:

    @Lugnut

    I fail to see where I was trying to explain the 7 years prior in the context of a single post. Stop moving the goalposts, chief.

    Fair enough. The gist of your comment was with regard to Pauslon’s “ransom note,” so I’ll concede that point. However, I still think Barry’s comment is in large part true — you may be the exception to the rule.

  56. Pool Shark says:

    “Hurrah!!! Our crooks are better than your crooks!!!”

    Democrats => “Tax and Spend”
    Republicans => “Borrow and Spend”

    Any questions?

    A plague on both your houses….

  57. ThePlainsman says:

    The sad thing is this: Nobody gives a damn about the truth! It’s really about the “game” of making folks “believe” you are telling the truth, when in fact you are lying. This is, I think, what really separates Dems from Reps on a national level. Republicans just feel more comfortable misrepresenting the real truth in order to maintain power. Voters are rubes. Although I’m not ecstatic with the continuation of the spend we had from 2000-2008 under Bush, I understand that much of it is necessary given the recession. Still, as you point out, he’s not as bad as we’ve seen.

  58. Lugnut says:

    “Fair enough. The gist of your comment was with regard to Pauslon’s “ransom note,” so I’ll concede that point. However, I still think Barry’s comment is in large part true — you may be the exception to the rule.”

    No doubt that was true enough to the casual observer. With the exception of guys like Denninger who was thumping the tub loudly and daily to get folks to call/email/fax their elected rep, it got scant exposure elsewhere. Still if you were to call the staffers for some of those folks, they’d likely tell you there was an active, angry bipartisan opposition to it.

    The larger point is true, Republicans pretty much kept to themselves during the rest of his tenure, I think largely in part because (apart from off budget war spending) they had the sense that while Bush may have been spending more than he should, I don’t think J6Pk full appreciated what they were doing on the funding side of the ledger. The info was out there, I think it was largely ignored though, much to all our discredit.

  59. joepie2 says:

    Much discussion over the role of government lately.

    Are there any data points on total jobs over time AND where they are set? Private industry v. public sector including unemployment (preferably U6 numbers)?

    The rationale is the total workforce and its ability to support/fund government over time?

    With 108 million working in the private sector, 22 million at the federal, state and local levels, 2-3 million private contractors (essentially getting government funding), 15 million unemployed, is there chart porn showing what the relationship is OVER time for these factors?

    Bottom line: Are 108 million private workers generating enough taxes to support government programs like 58 million on SS, 47 million on Medicare and 65 million on Medicaid (2/3′s of which are kids under 18)? I won’t even get into underfunded public pensions.

    joepie

  60. ACS says:

    If you spend even 5 minutes reading about the history of the Balkans it is quite clear there are no good or bad sides. The fighting there has been going on for centuries and each side has committed atrocities. Those poor Muslims were Hitler’s allies in WWII, responsible for atrocities against Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies. The reason for NATO ceased to exist when the USSR ended. It should have been dissolved but like all bureaucracies that refuse to die, it was transformed into a Global police force. How insane is a treaty that obligates us to go to war for another country virtually no questions asked? The former Yugoslavia was none of our business and playing World policeman is a losing game.

  61. NoKidding says:

    “The data are what the data are. If you’d like to perform your own analysis…”

    The data are that Obama ran up a bigger deficit in two years than the sum total of all preceding presidents.

    That is a fact.

    You choose to index Obama’s budget relative to just about the only thing that makes it look flat: his own previous spending.

  62. Invictus says:

    @NoKidding

    The data are that Obama ran up a bigger deficit in two years than the sum total of all preceding presidents. That is a fact.

    No, that is not a fact. It is among the single biggest crock of shit lies out there because it de facto assumes that a dollar in George Washington’s time is the equivalent of a dollar today. The fact of the matter is that $1 in 1780, adjusted at rate 2.5% per annum, is about $292 today. So every dollar George spent is about $292 of today’s dollars. Or would you just take George Washington’s deficit at its face value? Please. Of all the old, tired, BS lines out there, that one is just about the worst. Or do you want to stick with a constant value of a dollar over the past 230 years? When you make the appropriate adjustments, it’s not even close.

  63. Livermore Shimervore says:

    Here’s the problem:

    We sliced off the entire western seaboard in terms of manufacturing. Like a Jumbo jet that decided to ditch one of its engines mid-flight. Now we can’t get lift and the old folks are too afraid to put on a parachute (balking at entitlement cuts) and the young folks are too dumb to figure out how to open the door (poorly educated and unskilled). The Dems and Repubs are taking turns at piloting the ship but they both went to Acme Pilots via correspondence school so that’s not working out so well.

    Sooo…now we’ve got to make some very very unpopular choices that require every district and every state to take the castor oil. We’ve got no track record of doing such, we simply expect to grow out of every crunch. As Slicky Willy used to say “That’s old dog aint hunting no more”. Social Security, medicare, and defense are not getting cut without a serious sit down with Paulie Walnuts and Joey Bag-o-Donuts.
    Problem is the Cosa Nostra is better at working out a fix than the hapless minions of the two major political parties who spend all their time shaking their fists at the Fox “News” and MSNBC pundits.
    To show just how ESTUPIDO these minions are they are about to elect not the masters of political disarmament but instead, we are about to get the biggest deployment of the most combative, idelogical and myopic D.C. has ever seen. The irony of it is that by dividing govt in this historic manner, Obama, the object of so much right wing contempt, is sure to see a 5-7% boost in approval. Republicans and Democrats are irrelevant, Indys decide elections and they distrust the Tea Party & the Republicans just as much as they distrust Obama. A third will like this Reagan/Clinton path to divided government which will get Obama over the 50% Mendoza line, while the newly elected Congress will stay in triple A.
    If the GOP or Dems have any good answers on increasing growth and reducing spending we’d a heard it by now. Instead we’ve gotten bumper stickers and Made in China Paul Revere hats.

  64. Joe Friday says:

    NoKidding,

    “The data are that Obama ran up a bigger deficit in two years than the sum total of all preceding presidents. That is a fact.”

    That’s delusional.

    The federal debt was doubled from about $5 trillion to about $10 trillion just during the two terms of Chimpy Bush.

  65. dfstone32 says:

    @Petey Wheatstraw

    I don’t know about Smedley Butler but my own limited research indicates that Eisenhower’s position on the Military-Industrial Complex has been softened a bit by some historians. He was every bit a Cold Warrior.

  66. [...] have been following Invictus’ posts (Hey, Big Spender, and Big Spender, Part II)on Barry Ritholtz’s The Big Picture blog, one of my favorite blogs, [...]

  67. [...] the comments of my recent Hey, Big Spender post, some readers took me to task because “Congress controls the purse strings” and it [...]