Budget Fantasies & FlimFlam (3)

President Obama tries to deceive The People with a meaningless comparison to the Eisenhower era.

During the press conference he held to defend his 2012 budget President Obama claimed:

As a start, [my budget] freezes domestic discretionary spending over the next five years, which would cut the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, and bring annual domestic spending to its lowest share of the economy since [President] Dwight Eisenhower.

As with so much of Obama Administration communication, the Eisenhower reference was contrived to deceive people who are too busy to do the research and and pry out the truth.  Obama hopes to plant the vague perception that in some way he’s more frugal than Eisenhower was back in the 50s.  He isn’t.

The Administration’s budget office does predict that if the economy grows as much as they optimistically predict over the next five years, selected budget line items they call “non-security discretionary funding,” that are, in someone’s opinion, not “critical for growth and job creation” will be a lower percentage of GDP than a similar list was at some point during the Eisenhower era.

It’s not possible to verify or refute this claim because the budget document doesn’t disclose enough information.   But the comparison of a small portion of the budget is irrelevant because as the chart shows total government spending is now and will continue to be a much larger percentage of GDP.

Unemployment is twice as high now as it was in the 50s largely because Government recklessly consumes so much more of the economy’s resources.

What about military spending and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? We anticipate the usual, kneejerk response from The Left that current spending is high because of “Bush’s wars.”  Without the growth in military expenses, they’ll assert, total spending would not be a larger percentage of GDP

We have two part answer:

  • Part One: 1953, the first year of the Eisenhower Administration was also the last year of the Korean War, which is why spending was a little higher than in subsequent years.
  • Part Two: The chart below tracks military spending as a fraction of GDP.  Today, it’s less than half what it was during the Eisenhower era.  This means the real cause of higher total spending is the Left’s constellation of social programs and alphabet agencies, most of which did not exist during the 1950s.


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