Obama: 'I am not an overspender'

Of course not. Cowboy Poetry Festivals are of vital importance to our national security.


At a fundraiser for his re-election campaign in Denver tonight, President Obama set out to upend conventional Republican wisdom that his administration has been defined by excessive government spending.

"I'm running to pay down our debt in a way that's balanced and responsible. After inheriting a $1 trillion deficit, I signed $2 trillion of spending cuts into law," he told a crowd of donors at the Hyatt Regency. "My opponent won't admit it, but it's starting to appear in places, like real liberal outlets, like the Wall Street Journal: Since I've been president, federal spending has risen at the lowest pace  in nearly 60 years. Think about that."

Obama was referring to an analysis released this week by Rex Nutting, a reporter for CBS MarketWatch who is also affiliated with the Wall Street Journal. Nutting concluded that Obama has presided over the slowest growth in federal spending in decades.

First, let's dispense with the laughable "analysis" by Mr. Nutting. James Pethokoukis:

Until Barack Obama took office in 2009, the United States had never spent more than 23.5% of GDP, with the exception of the World War II years of 1942-1946. Here's the Obama spending record:

- 25.2% of GDP in 2009

- 24.1% of GDP in 2010

- 24.1% of GDP in 2011

- 24.3% (estimates by the White House ) in 2012

What's more, if Obama wins another term, spending-according to his own budget-would never drop below 22.3% of GDP. If that forecast is right, spending during Obama's eight years in office would average 23.6% of GDP. That's higher than any single previous non-war year.

Nutting chose 2009 as a baseline for the percentage increase in federal spending, blaming the 20% increase on Bush. The problem is, not only did Obama not reverse that spending, he added to it substantially. TARP, the auto bailout, and other recession measures were proposed and passed by the administration.

Obama chose not to reverse that elevated level of spending; thus he, along with congressional Democrats, are responsible for it. Only by establishing 2009 as the new baseline, something Republican budget hawks like Paul Ryan feared would happen, does Obama come off looking like a tightwad. Obama has turned a one-off surge in spending due to the Great Recession into his permanent New Normal through 2016 and beyond.

It's as if one of my teenagers crashed our family minivan, and I had to buy a new one. And then, since I liked that new car smell so much, I decided to buy a new van every year for the rest of my life. I would indeed be a reckless spender.

This is one narrative that, no matter what he does, Obama will not be able to reverse. Even with a helpful media, the evidence is too overwhelming for the president to claim up is down, black is white, and the sun sets in the east.