Accurate information is vital to the voting public, because "We the People" can't make good decisions without it. Yet, that's what we do everyday, by relying on political rhetoric instead of the plain facts. Why is it that we fall for the claptrap of politicians and pundits so easily?
One reason is because it's a lot easier to take their word for it rather than research the information ourselves. After all, we're busy people with a lot on our minds. Another reason is because partisanship has been burned into our psyche. This makes us quick to believe anything that places blame on "the other side." But the biggest reason we're so easily duped can be blamed on the public schools. Because when you don't have a clue about our history, or as to how our system of government works, you'll take anyone's word for it, as long as they sounds authoritative.
The Federal Government Budget Process
Article I, Section 7 of the U.S. Constitution reads: "All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills." With the power to tax implicitly comes the power to spend monies collected. Therefore, only the House of Representatives can introduce spending bills.
Granted, the Constitution rarely (if ever) gets in the way of the grand plans of our Washington Overlords, and it's been argued that the Senate can introduce spending bills too. But none the less, taxing and spending remain the exclusive domain of the Congress. Meaning a president cannot tax or spend a single penny that Congress has not first appropriated. Presidents therefore, should not be held responsible for budget deficits or surpluses (even though we all do it), because blame or credit lies solely with Congress.
But since we blame presidents anyway, let's get ready to rumble ...
Partisan Budget Tricks
Regular readers of this blog know that I could care less which party looks better regarding the budget. As far as I'm concerned, the Democratic Party and Republican Party each represent a gang of thieves writ large. If you're a Republican partisan however, you may not like what you learn. Yet it's you, the Republican partisan, for whom this information is most valuable.
Politicians and pundits are more than happy to fudge the numbers. After all, politicians want to get reelected and pundits view politics like they do professional sports. Rooting for and defending their favorite "team" no matter what. One tactic they use (both sides) is blaming one president for the spending of another. This is easy too. They simply assign the budget to the presidents term in office, instead of the fiscal years for which they were responsible.
Republicans blame President Barack Obama for the massive spending increases that occurred during fiscal year 2009 for example, because it happens to coincide with his first term in office. This appears to make sense on the surface, but the fact is that fiscal year 2009 spending was almost totally the result of appropriations bills signed by George W. Bush. By shifting Bush's 2009 spending to Obama, the amount of spending authorized by Bush gets understated while inflating spending authorized by Obama.
Fox News ran the headline "Obama Shatters Spending Record for First-Year Presidents" in November 2009. Their "analysis" was based on comparing total federal spending of $3.5 trillion in 2009 (Obama's first term in office) with total federal spending of $1.8 trillion in 2001 (Bush's first term in office). But this is just plain wrong. Because the 2001 budget attributed to Bush, was actually authorized by Bill Clinton. Likewise, the 2009 budget attributed to Barack Obama, was authorized by George W. Bush.
This may be fun for partisan games, but it damages the ability of those who hope to be knowledgeable voters.
Spending Under Republican George W. Bush vs. Democrat Barack Obama
Since it's more appropriate to attribute to a new president the outlays that occur during the first full fiscal year of his administration, let's take a look at spending under each president accordingly, since 1971. (All numbers provided by the Congressional Budget Office.)
As clear as day, you can see that federal spending increases are a bipartisan pogrom.
Note that the 17% increase from 2008 to 2009 is the second largest percentage spending increase, only surpassed by 23% in 1975.
Spending under Bush soared a whopping 74.9%. Adjusting for inflation doesn't help him much either, still coming in at an insane 46.6%.
Even though Obama shows a slight reduction in spending, it does not a trend make. He's got 3 more fiscal years to go.
There's no doubt Bush was a big spender, but let's adjust the numbers for inflation.
Ouch! During his second term, Bush outspent his first by an additional 24%, making him the single biggest spender over at least the past 30 years.
If you want to change the direction of our country, make yourself a knowledgeable voter first. Put aside the partisan claptrap and look for hard facts instead.
You are not compelled in any way to support and/or defend either the Democratic or Republican parties. If you are compelled by anything at all, let it be the honor and bravery of our ancestors who fought a bloody revolution for the independence and liberty to ignore political demagogues altogether, as well as tell them to shove it where the sun don't shine anytime you disapprove.
*Thanks to Ryan McMaken at the Mises Institute for doing all the hard work!