“Big government and debt doubled under a Republican administration,” 2016 Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul said. “And it’s now tripling under Barack Obama’s watch.”
Those are some scary words, and they feed the willfully ignorant frenzy driving Republicans to refuse to raise the debt ceiling. That and their failure to understand what the debt ceiling actually is.
As we head into yet another GOP shutdown showdown allegedly over Republicans unwillingness to pay off the debt they’ve already spent, it’s worth noting reality for a moment. The Congressional Budget Office put the deficit for the just ended fiscal year at 2.4% of GDP, below 50-year average, and also, 2015 was the sixth consecutive year in which the deficit declined as a percentage of GDP.
The federal government ran a budget deficit of $435 billion fiscal year 2015, CBO estimates—$48 billion less than the shortfall recorded in fiscal year 2014, and the smallest deficit recorded since 2007. Relative to the size of the economy, that deficit—at an estimated 2.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP)—was slightly below the average experienced over the past 50 years, and 2015 was the sixth consecutive year in which the deficit declined as a percentage of GDP since peaking at 9.8 percent in 2009. By CBO’s estimate, revenues were about 8 percent higher and outlays were about 5 percent higher in 2015 than they were in the previous fiscal year. CBO’s deficit estimate is based on data from the Daily Treasury Statements; the Treasury Department will report the actual deficit for fiscal year 2015 later this month.
We can’t have an honest discussion about the deficit without noting that “the FY2009 federal deficit was running at a rate of $1.2 trillion on the day he (President Obama) took office in the midst of a financial crisis.”
Also, Factcheck continued (note this was written in 2014):
But a fact that may surprise Obama’s critics is that Obama’s spending increases have been historically modest — much smaller than his predecessor’s, and well below the rate of inflation. Federal spending in the current fiscal year, which ends this month, is running only 7.9 percent higher than it was when the president took office. This increase is well below the 12 percent rise in the Consumer Price Index, which we’ve mentioned.
But the spending increase under Obama would be even lower — only 5.9 percent — if we used the most recent estimate of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office from August 27. CBO puts the current year’s outlays at just over $3.5 trillion. The final, actual spending figures for this year should be announced sometime next month, and we’ll report on them in our next update.
And right when I was about to credit Republican austerity for some of this:
To be sure, some of the spending restraint has been forced on Obama by a Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Even so, the contrast with the Bush administration’s spending increases is quite dramatic. Federal outlays rose nearly 33 percent during the first four fiscal years for which Bush signed the appropriations bills (FY2002 – 2005) and rose again by another 34 percent during the next four fiscal years, even subtracting $203 billion from FY2009 to adjust for Obama’s additions that year.
PolitiFact checked Rand Paul’s claim and found “Quite a few readers asked us if the debt has tripled since Obama took office in January 2009. We took a look at the numbers, and it hasn’t. It’s increased about 1.7 times.”
Want to know how Rand Paul’s “office” justified his claim? Watch the shells move (my bold): “Looking at the whole statement — not just the second clause — Paul wasn’t saying the debt has tripled under Obama alone. Instead, he was saying that it doubled under President George W. Bush. And since Obama took office, it has risen to a point that is triple what it was when Bush first took office. By this measure, Paul’s statement is closer to accurate. Let’s go through the numbers.”
Jobless claims also fell to near a 42-year low today, after the Department of Labor released their update:
In the week ending October 3, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 263,000, a decrease of 13,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised down by 1,000 from 277,000 to 276,000. The 4-week moving average was 267,500, a decrease of 3,000 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised down by 250 from 270,750 to 270,500.
So what we have here is a President who has set historic records for continuous private sector job growth, has lowered spending increases dramatically – in fact they have been “historically modest”, and the deficit for the just ended fiscal year is at 2.4% of GDP, below 50-year average.
What’s it all mean? It means that President Obama is not the big spender Republicans make him out to be, unless they really want to blame him for picking up the tab for their 2007 financial crisis and the two unfunded wars they started and put on a credit card. So when Republicans talk about not raising the debt ceiling due to their objections to “spending”, not only is this irresponsible because the money has already been spent, but it’s irrational and ridiculous. For a big spender, see Obama’s predecessor – the entitled “decider”.
In other words, President Obama is the only adult in the room.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.