More on federal spending growth

This is a quick follow-up to the previous post about Rex Nutting’s piece on The Wall Street Journal‘s Marketwatch website in which he debunked the notion that Obama had drastically increased federal spending.

One point I originally made in the post but somehow got truncated (apparently when I tried to edit it night before last with a new smart-phone app I’d just downloaded; let that be a lesson to me…): Politico pointed out correctly that congressional Republicans merit some of the credit for the negative real growth in spending under Obama. But they also misleadingly implied that the first two Obama budgets, passed before the midterm elections, increased spending. In fact, real spending (after taking into account inflation) actually declined.

Moreover, Social Security, Medicare, Veterans benefits, and other legally mandated spending actually accounts for a majority of the federal budget. Of the rest, a large part goes to military spending elevated by two expensive wars. Civilian discretionary spending (on the law enforcement, border control, medical and scientific research, aid for the needy, transportation, and so on) is a relatively small fraction of the total, and it has not shot upward in recent years — quite the contrary.

I’ll have more to say on that last point when I have time to run the numbers.

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