HOW DEEP ARE THOSE PROPOSED SPENDING CUTS? NOT VERY. “The next time you hear howls of anguish over deep, tough, painful cuts in the federal budget, you might want to ask yourself how you’d feel if you had 7 percent more to spend next year than you did last year.”
And among the accompanying graphics, the one on spending as a percentage of GDP should undercut any claims that Obama is just continuing Bush’s big-spending ways. Bush spent big. Obama is spending disastrously big.
Related: This budget is no way to Win The Future. Depends on who you’re winning it for, I guess.
by Glenn Reynolds
The headlines appear to say it all. "Painful Cuts in Obama's $3.7 Trillion Budget." "Budget Director Calls Steep Budget Cuts Necessary." "Obama Budget Pivots From Stimulus to Deficit Cuts." "Cuts to Target Working Poor, Middle Class and Students." On and on they go.
But how deep are these cuts really? Take a closer look, and they turn out to be less than meets the eye.
Consider: President Barack Obama's 2012 budget proposes to spend $3.48 trillion on everything except interest on the national debt. That's a 7 percent increase over what the government spent in 2010. And keep in mind that in 2010, there was a lot of stimulus money flying out the door.
Source: White House Office of Management and Budget.If you look at a slightly longer-term picture, the spending cuts start to pale into even greater insignificance. Obama's budget would have the federal government spend twice in 2012 what it did just 12 years before. Even after accounting for inflation, that's a 57 percent increase.
Nor do the cuts look like much when you measure them against the economy as a whole.
In 2000, the last year Bill Clinton was in office, federal spending accounted for 18.2 percent of the economy. Obama's 2012 budget would soak up 23.6 percent of the economy, and by 2016, it would still account for 22.6 percent.
In other words, even if all the painful cuts the president is proposing were enacted, the federal government's share of the economy would be far higher than it was when the last Democratic president left office.
Still, President Obama is at least talking about crimping the spending hose a little, and in doing so he is taking plenty of heat from his own side of the aisle. He deserves credit for that.
But the next time you hear howls of anguish over deep, tough, painful cuts in the federal budget, you might want to ask yourself how you'd feel if you had 7 percent more to spend next year than you did last year.