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The Obama Spending Past and Future

Wednesday February 10th, 2016   •   Posted by Craig Eyermann at 5:51am PST   •  

President Barack Obama released his final budget proposal for the U.S. government yesterday. We thought it might be fun to visualize the proposed spending in all his previous budget proposals, from his first to this last one, adjusting each for inflation so that they’re expressed in terms of constant 2009 U.S. dollars — the year of his inauguration.

The chart below reveals our results, in which we find that President Obama really wants to be known for permanently increasing the U.S. government’s spending by one trillion dollars — a 33 percent increase over the levels proposed by his predecessor in office.


In the chart above, the solid red line indicates the actual level of U.S. government spending for the years 2008 through 2015. The dotted red line projects what that spending would be through 2021 if President Obama’s latest spending proposal were to be accepted as is. Meanwhile, although we’re currently in Fiscal Year 2016, we’re grouping it with Future Years because the U.S. government’s actual amount of spending during it won’t be known until after the fiscal year ends on September 30, 2016.

Writing at National Review Online, the Mercatus Center’s Veronique de Rugy summarized the big takeaways from President Obama’s new budget proposal in just three paragraphs.

President Obama has introduced his latest budget. On the cover we are greeted by a picture of a large mountain. It is unusual and pretty but mostly it made me wonder whether — for once — the Obama administration was demonstrating tremendous self-awareness. This budget would indeed produce a mountain of debt so the image is fitting. Debt held by the public will go from $14.1 trillion in 2016 to $14.7 trillion in 2017 and then onto $21.3 trillion in 2026. Under the budget’s very rosy assumptions, deficits, which have already grown from $438 billion in 2015 to $616 billion in 2016, fall to $503 billion in 2017 (how deficits shrink by over $100 billion is a mystery) but they will be up to $741 billion in 2026.

This increase in debt and deficit is happening in spite of the assumption of large revenue collections over the next ten years; from $3,644 in 2017 to $5,669 billion in 2026. Maybe it has a little to do with the spending, which will be exploding from $3,951 billion in 2016 to $4,147 billion in 2017 on its way to $6,462 billion in 2026.

But please don’t worry because, according to the president’s budget, all this debt and deficit will produce better than a 4 percent average growth rate for the next ten years. Never mind that we have been out of a recession for several years now and that recessions tend to happen about every ten years.

Keep in mind that the inflation-adjusted real GDP growth rate has exceeded 4 percent in only three of the past 28 quarters of Barack Obama’s presidency. President Obama apparently believes that growth will surge to average 4 percent in the four years after he leaves office — quite an admission of how poor his economic policies have been.

Also not to be missed is Daniel Mitchell’s take on President Obama’s latest budget, as he gets deeper into what President Obama’s proposed $10 per gallon tax per barrel of oil would mean for American consumers.

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February 2016