Democrats Blew Up Spending

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President Obama claims that Republicans spend more. He's wrong.

Congress passes budgets. The President can only sign them. And if you look at the actual data, it's clear: even though spending was pretty high with Republicans under Bush, it blew up up to record levels with Democratic control of Congress under Bush.

In 2006, the Democrats took control of both houses of Congress for the first time in 12 years, and their first budget (FY 2008) saw a year-over-year increase of spending of $254B, an 8.5% increase. That's a lot.

In FY 2009, Bush's last year in office, he proposed an increase of $124B in spending. While a significant increase (especially with what turned out to be a $419B drop in revenue), the Democrats ended up increasing spending by an astonishing $535B instead (hence the new normal of trillion-dollar deficits). Bush refused to sign it into law, and Obama did. So if Bush didn't ask for it, and wouldn't sign it, why are we attributing it to Bush? At most, we should only attribute the $124B increase to Bush (since he asjed for it), and the extra $411B to Obama (since he approved it).

But the guy who started all this, Rex Nutting at Marketwatch, flips that on its head, saying Obama is responsible for only the $140B in stimulus from FY 2009. That'd make sense if he didn't sign the budget that asked for a lot more money than Bush was willing to spend. Yes, usually the incoming President is not responsible for the budget; but usually, the incoming President doesn't sign a massive request the outgoing President rejected.

As Nutting points out, spending has "flattened" under Obama. But this is not very interesting. When the Democrats set new spending increase records in FY 2008 and 2009, they couldn't justify to continue on that unsustainable pace. It's like someone who eats a massive Thanksgiving dinner at 1 p.m., and then brags about how he's slowed his caloric intake for the rest of the evening. That is not something to brag about.

Let's look at some real numbers, based on who actually did what. The first six years of Bush budgets (the ones passed by Republican or split Congresses), spending increased a whopping 32%, an average increase per year of 6.15% (a max of 7.4% in FY 2001, dropping to 2.7% in FY 2007).

But over the next two years, with Democrats controlling both houses, spending increased 22%, with that whopping 15.2% increase in FY 2009. And yes, in the next three years of Obama the increase has only been about 7% combined, but we can't ignore that most of that 22% increase ($411B vs. $378B) was spending Bush didn't ask for and didn't approve, and Obama signed into law.

If we adjust at that point, we get that Bush's last two years (with a Democratic Congress) were an increase of 12%, not 22%; and Obama's first three years (including the extra $411B in FY 2009 that Bush didn't request, that was enacted by Obama) is up to an 18% increase.

It's just amazing how upside-down the world is to Nutting and Obama. Yes, if you pretend that the Republicans passed the budgets the Democrats passed, and that Bush signed the budget that Obama signed, you can then pretend that the Republicans increased spending a lot more than the Democrats have. But it won't reflect reality.

On a related note, how is that Democrats are slamming Mitt Romney's record of "job creation" in Massachusetts, but if Romney were a Democrat, they'd all be blaming Bush for that job record? And please don't pretend this isn't completely true. My own governor, Christine Gregoire, milked that line for years. She's still doing it. Heck, Obama's still doing it. So Gregoire's and Obama's job losses are Bush's fault, but Romney's job losses are Romney's fault?

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