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Here on Planet Earth, President Barack Obama has reduced total federal expenditures as a share of the economy from 25.5 percent when he took office to 24.7 percent in the last quarter.

Total federal spending as percentage of GDP since Reagan

Click to enlarge (Data: GDP and federal spending.)

George W. Bush, on the other hand, raised federal spending from 19.4 percent of GDP to 25.5 percent. Or, as House Speaker John Boehner puts it, President Obama is a coward who wants to cut spending but is too scared of voters to do anything about it.

House Speaker John Boehner Tuesday repeatedly challenged the president's willingness to go against his own party on issues that include reforms to social programs and spending.

"I think he'd like to deal with it [fiscal problems], but to do the kind of heavy lifting that needs to be done, I don't think he's got the guts to do it,” the Ohio Republican said in a meeting with a small group of reporters for nearly an hour Tuesday morning. “He understands there is a spending problem. He understands that we need changes and reforms, and we need to solve these problems."

Sure, Speaker Boehner's attack wasn't grounded in reality, but let's give him some credit: at least he didn't accuse the president of being a secret Soviet apparatchik hellbent on destroying the American way of life. Instead, he basically accused the president of being a closeted Bowles-Simpson acolyte. That's progress, isn't it? Well, sort of.

Originally posted to The Jed Report on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 10:37 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  And the cuts harmed the recovery. (12+ / 0-)

    It's better not to cut spending now.  Overall, Obama and Dems have prevented the massive austerity that brought the UK into a triple dip recession, but we never had the necessary stimulus.   We should have been increaoisng spending as a percent of GDP.

    Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

    by TomP on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 10:44:53 AM PST

    •  Yep, yep, and yep. (6+ / 0-)

      "It could have been worse, but should have been better."

    •  But if Obama (7+ / 0-)

      just keeps cutting government spending, then Americans will celebrate his "fiscal responsibility" and reward him, and he will effectively take government spending off the table as an issue, allowing him to--

      Oh. Never mind:

      48 percent said they had more trust in Republicans to cut federal spending compared to 39 who backed Obama.
      Not only has he entered a dangerous contest that he should've never entered, he's losing.
      •  Yes, one of his bigger errors (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        was feeding the deficit scares in his vain quest for a Grand Bargain.  Even before with the Simpson Bowles commission.  It came back to hurt him.

        I can see long term deficit reduction, but the austerity undercut the second stimulus (the 2010 deal) and then 2011 hurt also.    

        The original stimulus was too small, but at least it was stimulative and did stop the free fall.  

        I'm glad for the various stimuluses, and understtand we could have been like the UK has the Rs been in charge, or worse, but it also could have been much better.  UE has been a human tragedy.

        Obama (and Dems) have been much better this year, alhough I'm not fan of chained cpi, but I'd like to believe it could have been different.

        Now, with the R House, the best we will get is some austerity.

        No doubt, it could be much worse, but it might have been better.

        Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

        by TomP on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 12:00:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  What cuts? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hmi, VClib

      According to Jed's link, spending has gone up every year except for a slight drop off in 2011 when the stimulus ran out.

      Title:               Federal government total expenditures

      2008-01-01  3127.3
      2008-04-01  3270.7
      2008-07-01  3273.4
      2008-10-01  3475.4
      2009-01-01  3544.9
      2009-04-01  3780.9
      2009-07-01  3717.4
      2009-10-01  3774.8
      2010-01-01  3842.7
      2010-04-01  3922.9
      2010-07-01  3913.4
      2010-10-01  3924.9
      2011-01-01  3883.1
      2011-04-01  4003.3
      2011-07-01  3904.7
      2011-10-01  3901.9
      2012-01-01  3856.3
      2012-04-01  3894.5
      2012-07-01  3882.6
      2012-10-01  3916.5

      There has been no austerity cuts.. proposals, yes.  Cuts? None.

      •  Percentage (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bon Temps

        Lewison's claim is about spending as a percentage of GDP. Either way, the thing he's not saying is that, if Obama had been granted the expenditures he asked for, the chart would be quite different. Basically, this is spinning Republican and/or Congressional refusal to go along with his job plans as admirable fiscal restraint on the president's part. Chutzpah is the technical term, I believe.

        •  Adjust for population and inflation (0+ / 0-)

          In two years, the population went up about 1.5% and the cost of living went up about 4.6%.  Multiply them and you get a hair over 6%.

          But Bon Temps' figures show spending flat between October 2010 and October 2012.  That corresponds to a 6% real per capita decrease.  It also has corresponded to significant job losses and declines in the real value of wages.

  •  IMPOSSIBLE! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gary Norton, blackjackal, Matt Z

    Pres. Obama is a tax and spend Democrat.  That's all those folks do!  TAX AND SPEND!!  Your words and charts mean nothing to me.  

    Now, good day sir....  I said GOOD DAY!

    The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing online commenters that they have anything to say.-- B.F.

    by lcj98 on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 11:02:18 AM PST

  •  I await the day (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sybil Liberty, blackjackal

    Boehner tells the President that he has no guts to Obama's face.  Tough to do when one repeatedly doesn't answer phone calls, skips WH meetings and such.

    Boehner can't even stand up to the nutjobs like the King twins and Gohmert and Bachmann and . . . . so he should just shut up.

    " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 11:25:43 AM PST

  •  Couching it in ratios doesn't work (0+ / 0-)

    The low-info tea-party leaning person simply sees more dollars spent than last year on Faux News and concludes spending is up.  

    % of GDP is above a lot of people's heads, and there are legitimate arguments that % of GDP isn't necessarily the right metric for how much a guv'mint should or shouldn't spend.  

  •  And this is supposed to be good because...? nt (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ryvr, Beelzebud, stevej, roadbear

    “In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.” Terry Pratchett

    by 420 forever on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 11:32:21 AM PST

    •  It's good ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dogs are fuzzy

      for Richard Nixon's legacy. Nixon signed the Environmental Protection Agency into law, supported an Employer Mandate (LEFT of Obama's heathcare law), and presided over much higher corporate and high-earner taxes which sufficiently funded the U.S. budget to make the country economically strong.

      If Obama is a centrist, Nixon was a staunch progressive!

      -- Ryvr

      by Ryvr on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 12:07:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Bingo! (4+ / 0-)

      It's funny.  I don't remember hearing anything about a budget, the debt, or the deficit during W's entire fucking term.  

      The Republicans certainly didn't give a shit about it then.  

      The tent got so big it now stands for nothing.

      by Beelzebud on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 01:39:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  let me refresh it... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        "Ten years ago today on December 6, 2002, the Bush Administration fired its top two economic advisers: Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey due to the continuing lagging economy (when Bush took office, unemployment was 4.2%. In Dec of 2002... more than a year after 9/11... the rate jumped from 5.7% to 6.0% in one month). In November of 2002, when O'Neill, a "deficit hawk", tried to warn Vice President Dick Cheney that growing budget deficits... expected to top $500 billion that fiscal year alone... posed a threat to the economy. Cheney cut him off, saying, "You know, Paul, Reagan proved deficits don't matter."

        "I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast, for I intend to go in harm's way." John Paul Jones

        by ImpeachKingBushII on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 02:07:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Because Obama did it (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      420 forever

      pay attention now.

  •  Actually, here's the main jist of the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Administration's Tax Reform proposal, as I read it.

    Here's an excerpt from the President's proposal to the Supercommittee, "Living Within Our Means and Investing in the Future."

    Tax reform is also an important part of reducing our long-term deficits and placing our country on a fiscally sustainable path.  

    We cannot address a deficit a decade in the making through spending cuts alone—that is, unless we, as a country, agree to cut every program in the entire budget by more than a quarter, including all defense spending, Social Security and Medicare benefits, and veterans’ benefits, along with everything else.The first principle for tax reform in his proposal is:

    1.  Lower tax rates.  

    The tax system should be simplified and work for all Americans with lower individual and corporate tax rates and fewer brackets.

    The Administration is recommending lowering the tax rates to no higher than 30%--the Buffet Rule.  

    Generally speaking, the rates will be drastically lowered and flattened (with fewer brackets).


    "Only he who can see the invisible, can do the impossible." --Frank L. Gaines

    "If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

    by musiccitymollie on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 11:46:18 AM PST

    •  It's not fair to omit that this comes along with (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      significant loophole and tax break reform.

      I see what you did there.

      by GoGoGoEverton on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 01:37:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  So so true (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GoGoGoEverton, BradyB, VClib, nextstep

        Any sane person would much rather have (1) a 40% top marginal rate with deductions amounting to a huge percentage of their income than (2) a 30% rate with no deductions.  You'd pay more in taxes under scenario 2.  

        Far too many people here focus on marginal tax rates, which are not in and of themselves indicative of what people actually pay in federal income taxes.  You can pay more in federal income taxes with lower rates, depending on deductions.  According to the CBO, the top 1% paid MORE in federal income taxes when under the Clinton rates than they did in 1979 when the top marginal rate was 70%.

        Lowering rates and eliminating deductions is good thing.  It means all rich people will pay an effective rate of maybe 25%, rather two households making the same income paying vastly different amounts (one paying an effective rate of 15% and one paying an effective rate of 30%) in taxes depending on whether they structure things to take advantage of loopholes and deductions.  

        •  Exactly, and it's also conveniently switched up (0+ / 0-)

          depending on the topic...effective tax rates are the talk of the town when comparing our corporate tax rates to other nations, but we just talk marginal when the scope is domestic.

          The income disparity is the #1 issue; as the demand for skilled manual labor has fallen (assuming you don't consider web development or engineering 'manual labor'), the income disparity has climbed to a sick peak.

          I see what you did there.

          by GoGoGoEverton on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 01:56:41 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Not necessarily. If you're famliar with Bowles- (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BradyB, SpecialKinFlag

          Simpson's The Moment Of Truth (the Fiscal Commission's recommendations), you're probably aware that their "broadening the base, and lowering the rates" approach is meant to lower taxes on the wealthy and on corporations.  

          They achieve this by eliminating many tax breaks that apply mainly to lower and middle class folks.  Just like the Bowles-Simpson proposal, many lawmakers are considering eliminating altogether the exemption on employer-provided group health insurance, that's been in place for literally decades (and is part of the pay package of many employees, especially Union workers).
          That's how the "base is broadened."

          That's the whole purpose of the "revamping" of the tax system.  Read the section entitled Tax Reform, in The Moment Of Truth.  Here's the link.  Please read Pages 28-34.

          Eliminating these tax exemptions and bringing more poor and middle class folks into the federal tax system, is the mechanism for allowing the PtB to lower the marginal tax rates on the wealthy and the corporations.

          Remember that the President always reiterates that this overhaul is intended TO RAISE REVENUE.

          And please, consider that much of what you hear is simply "talking points."

          Hey, don't take my word for it.  Here's what Illinois US Representative Jan Schakowsky has to say about "tax reform" in her Reuters OpEd, entitled "The Sham Of Simpson-Bowles."  And here's the link to the entire piece.

          Have Simpson-Bowles champions read it? Given any real scrutiny, this plan falls far short of being a serious, workable or reasonable proposal – from either an economic or political analysis.

          In one of its few specific points, for example, Simpson-Bowles mandates a top individual tax rate of 29 percent “or less.”

          Much like the vague Romney proposals, the Simpson-Bowles plan would make up the shortfall by eliminating tax loopholes, suggesting options such as having employees pay taxes on their health benefits.

          Not only is this likely to increase costs to middle-income families, it could threaten coverage altogether.

          The proposal for corporate tax reform would eliminate taxes on profits earned overseas, rewarding companies that move jobs offshore.

          IOW, the Dems and Repubs are going to "raise taxes on some folks, and cut Social Security and Medicare," in order to off-set the budget so that they can lower the individual and corporate tax rates.

          That is what the GRAND BARGAIN is!

          Grand for some, but no so much, for others, LOL!

          Remember, the Democrats' famous "Pay-Go." This is it, in action!

          I rest my case.  :-D

          [Actually, I've just run out of time for now, if I want to hear the State of the Union address this evening, LOL!]


          "Only he who can see the invisible, can do the impossible." --Frank L. Gaines

          "If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

          by musiccitymollie on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 03:14:15 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It doesn't have to be that way. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            BradyB, GoGoGoEverton, VClib

            It depends how you structure it.  Lowering the rates, and eliminating deductions/exemptions (Tax Reform Act of 1986), led to the top 1% paying MORE in individual federal income taxes in 2000 than they did in 1979.  See SECOND chart here.

            It would be better to have a lower top marginal rate, and fewer exemptions/deductions, for the top 1% -- i.e., "broadening the base" -- if their average effective tax rate increases slightly by doing so.  

            •  You make an excellent point, except that what (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Bradley et al did in the 1986 tax reform bill, is just not what the PtB have in mind (this time around).

              The same is true of the 1983 Greenspan Commission's Social Security reform, versus Bowles-Simpson's recommendations.  The Greenspan Commission's reforms were not nearly as "punitive" as what Bowles-Simpson has prescribed.

              I'm sorry.  But it seems that times have really changed.

              I assure you, ct, I have no bone to pick with you.  And I hope that lawmakers do as you mention in your last sentence.  

              But, from everything that I've read, the goals of corporations and our political elites are not resolving the gross "inequality" that exists in the US, today.  

              Never mind their words.  Simply watch their actions (and legislation).

              Short of a miracle, what we're getting ready to witness will be nothing like the 1983 Social Security reform, or the 1986 Tax Reform bills.

              If I'm wrong, I'll happily 'eat crow.'  And like I told another commenter the other day, I'll come looking for you, even!  :-)


              "Only he who can see the invisible, can do the impossible." --Frank L. Gaines

              "If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

              by musiccitymollie on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 03:52:54 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  GGGE, not sure what you are saying, in that the (0+ / 0-)

        many of the loopholes, or tax expenditures, that the lawmakers are considering eliminating, will mostly affect lower and middle income folks.

        Anyhoo, please check out my reply to coffeetalk, below.  

        It is also my reply to you, since it addresses the same topic.

        Especially note US Rep Jan Schakowsky's Reuters OpEd piece, regarding the "tax reform" overhaul that is being negotiated.



        "Only he who can see the invisible, can do the impossible." --Frank L. Gaines

        "If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

        by musiccitymollie on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 03:26:51 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  No he hasn't...because (0+ / 0-)



    "Small Businesses Don't Build Levees" - Melissa Harris Perry

    by justmy2 on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 12:33:28 PM PST

  •  Again, with the misleading numbers (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dogs are fuzzy, BradyB, VClib
    from 25.5 percent when he took office
    It was not "25.5 percent when he took office."  It was 25.2% for FY 2009, which began October 1, 2008, and ended October, 2009.  White House Data is here.  I've seen this claim a number of times, and what it does is counts spending that was passed AFTER January 1, 2009, as Bush spending, even though it was promoted, and passed, by President Obama after he took office.  

    This is one of several supposed "analyses" -- the primary one done by Marketwatch -- that attribute all spending that occurred during FY 2009 to Bush because the original FY 2009 Budget was passed while Bush was President.  Under that analysis, the stimulus, the CHIP expansion, and other spending that was promoted by President Obama AFTER he was inaugurated, and was passed in Congress AFTER President Obama was  inaugurated, is "Bush spending."  That's just dishonest.  

    In other words, federal spending in FY 2008 was 20% of GDP.  Federal Spending in FY 2009 was 25% of GDP.  Some of that huge increase IS "Bush spending" -- specifically, TARP.  But some clearly is NOT "Bush spending" -- specifically, the stimulus, the CHIP expansion, and other spending that happened in FY 2009 but was passed AFTER President Obama took office.

    The analysis on which these kinds of numbers are based -- the MarketWatch analysis -- has been debunked by every independent fact checker to analyze the information. See here:  

    So, in sum, the conclusions of “independent fact checkers” are unanimous, even though we reach a similar destination through different routes: The data used in the MarketWatch analysis is flawed in a number of ways — the starting point is wrong, the ending point is misleading and it is not inflation adjusted.
    I have no problem with those who argue that the stimulus, and the post-January 2009 additional spending promoted and authorized by President Obama -- and passed without any Republican support -- was made necessary by the economy President Obama inherited. But it is dishonest to attribute spending initiated and passed AFTER President Obama took office to President Bush.  
    •  Check out the data (0+ / 0-)

      The numbers I'm using are reported on a quarterly basis, so it doesn't have the full year issue that some of the other stuff has. The numbers are annualized, but they are from a specific quarter.

      The only overlap here with Obama and Bush is Q109.

      In Q408, federal spend as % of GDP was 24.7 percent. In Q109, which included both Bush and Obama, and was mostly before the stimulus, it was 25.5 percent. in Q412 it was 24.7 percent. So even if you disregard Q109, spending as a share of GDP has been flat. But at least to me ignoring Q109 doesn't make sense, but whatever your view on that, spending in Q408 and Q412 was flat, so even if you say Obama is entirely responsible for Q109, at a minimum, spending is now the same percentage of GDP as it was in the final full quarter of Bush's term in office.

  •  Percent of GDP is a TERRIBLE measure to use (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Because GDP falls during a recession (and fell dramatically during the last one), which causes the "% of GDP" metric to rise sharply even in the absence of governmental policy change!!

    If you want a better measure, use real (inflation-adjusted) dollars.

    We are all in the same boat on a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty. -- G.K. Chesterton

    by Keith Pickering on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 01:43:41 PM PST

  •  Boehner ought to know a coward.. (0+ / 0-)

    He looks at one every morning while shaving..asshole!

  •  OT: Hagel nom vote scheduled for 5pm EST (0+ / 0-)

    Give a man a gun and he can rob a bank.
    Give a man a bank and he can rob the world.

    by here4tehbeer on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 01:59:17 PM PST

  •  You say this like it's a good thing, Jed (0+ / 0-)

    ... and it's not. Government spending should not go down in hard times.  It should go up, especially with interest rates near-zero.  The fact that it hasn't means that we have hundreds of thousands of people unnecessarily out of work.

    Instead of praising Obama for overseeing a decline in government spending, we should be pressing for new initiatives to put people to work doing vitally needed work, like repairing our aging infrastructure and helping states hire back some of the teachers and first responders they've had to lay off.


  •  The obvious answer to the budget and deficits (0+ / 0-)

    is to grow the economy.  Putting a few million people back to work or to full employment raises their wages, causes them to pay more income taxes themselves, reduces the drain on unemployment insurance, and a host of other positive movements in the economy.

    Get rid of some unneeded and unnecessary military spending by ending the wars, and not buying weapons systems that our generals and admirals say they don't need, quit buying bombs and ammunition that non combatant military no longer needs, build the military for tomorrow's wars, with a significant emphasis on war prevention.

    Require Medicare to purchase drugs at the world market price, and make the rest of the world meet the margin requirement for the drug companies.  Don't make it impossible for the drug companies to make a profit, just don't make the USA responsible for providing ALL of the drug companie's profits.  That's fair.

    Bail out small business by paying their unemployment insurance cost, which is a major impediment to hiring more workers.  In Ohio, if you have laid off a fair number of employees for a long time, you will be saddled with a need to replenish your own unemployment insurance program until it is in the black, with a rate of about 9.4 per cent of total gross wages until it is.  If you are marginal, and you need to put help on, but are saddled with this big tax, and it continued to put your employer account deeper and deeper in the hole due to extensions of benefits, then a strong case can be made that the small employer needs some help or forgiveness to make this up.  They would be less reluctant to hire more people if this burden was lifted from them.

    Rebuild our highways, bridges, sewage systems, water works and other facilities that can't be outsourced.  Construction work has one of the highest multipliers, and when construction is booming, the housing market booms, furniture, carpets, paint, lumber, roofing materials, insulation, solar cells and other green energy materials can grow as well.

    The president needs to hammer home the point that the Republicans are advocating failure of our economy to advance their own narrow and short-sighted goals.  End Radical Republican obstruction.  Run the bastards out of office.

    Republicans are like alligators. All mouth and no ears.

    by Ohiodem1 on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 03:37:45 PM PST

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