I’ve written about this before, but since Paul Krugman just posted about it, perhaps it’s time to revisit the issue. Professor Krugman’s chart, in my opinion, doesn’t go far enough in that it does not provide sufficient context. While the chart does show the YoY percent decline in Real Government Expenditures & Investment, it does not give us the context of how Obama’s doing versus his predecessors, which I think adds the proper perspective.
So, how is the tax and spend socialist Obama doing on government spending relative to previous White House occupants? Let’s have a look at Real Government Expenditures & Investment and index it to 100 at presidential inaugurations:
(Click through for ginormous)
(Source: St. Louis Fed, Series GCEC1, author calculations)
So, it’s clear to see what spendthrifts the Democrats have been and how fiscally responsible the Republicans are what a canard it is to claim that Obama has been spending like a drunken sailor. In fact, Clinton and Obama have been the most fiscally responsible of the last five administrations – by a long shot (and do we really need to talk about St. Ronnie?). Of course, none of this matters because people just know what they know, notwithstanding the facts.
Oh, and do we really need to discuss what the graph above would look like rendered on a per capita basis?
Joe Weisenthal, Obama, The Austerity President
Gene Epstein, Where Government Shrinks
It’s fairly clear to see what it is I’ve been missing: Obama is a tax and spend Democrat, until the facts prove otherwise, at which point it becomes Congress that is responsible for the country’s purse strings. Except that, predictably, Mitt Romney didn’t get the message:
“So it came as no surprise when he told an Ohio audience Friday that massive government borrowing and spending under President Barack Obama was putting America “on track to becoming Greece.”
“Describing Obama’s “government-dominated society” as a breach of America’s tradition of letting free enterprise thrive, Romney said, “In my view, that takes us down a path to becoming more and more like Europe. And Europe doesn’t work in Europe.”
By the way, while I recognize the issues posed by the debt and deficit, does anyone think that maybe it’s at least a reasonable idea to borrow money at negative real interest rates?
I’m particularly amused by the suggestion that I should “stop posting unsolicited political claptrap and spare us all.” Thanks for that. I’ll take it under advisement. Send your complaint to Ritholtz and by all means don’t drop anything in the tip jar.
And, by the way, I’ve done the per capita chart I alluded to above, and it shows exactly what you’d expect it to show – even more of the same.
And to Joe Friday: Exactly.