The sequester problem: Is Obama the cause?

Washington’s biggest piece of fiction is that the President is a big spender. Photo: President Obama speaks with the military on his way to Newport News, Va. on Tuesday AP

WASHINGTON, February 28, 2013 — There is a major blame game going on in Washington, with finger pointing the newest political sport. One of the favorite Republican targets is President Obama.

If he hadn’t run up the debt, we wouldn’t be in this sequester jam. If he and his Democratic cronies weren’t big spenders, America would be thriving.

Lots of people have written to this column making that claim. I can almost hear them pounding the table as their words jump off the page in anger. It is all President Obama’s fault because he is spending us into the depths of economic hell.

But is he?

A look at the facts by Marketwatch and Forbes shows that not to be true. In fact, President Obama’s track record illustrates just the opposite: He is not a big spender.

Slowest spending in decades

Both Marketwatch and Forbes found the President to be mighty tight with the buck. Not since the days of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, right after he ended the Korean War, has federal spending risen this slowly.

These are the actual numbers as reported by Marketwatch which used the findings of the nonpartisan Office of Management and Budget:

“* In fiscal 2010 — the first budget under Obama — spending fell 1.8% to $3.46 trillion.

* In fiscal 2011, spending rose 4.3% to $3.60 trillion.

* In fiscal 2012, spending was set to rise 0.7% to $3.63 trillion.

* Finally in fiscal 2013 — the final budget of Obama’s term — spending is scheduled to fall by 1.3% to $3.58 trillion.”

So how did President Obama get such a bum rap?

Perhaps it was a misunderstanding, intentionally or otherwise, but the first year for any incoming president means that person is stuck with the budget of the previous president, in this case the President George W. Bush 2009 budget, passed by Congress in 2008. The Bush budget that Obama inherited increased the federal budget by 17.9%. Yep, you read right: by nearly 18%. The Bush budget ballooned from $2.98 trillion to — gulp — $3.52 trillion.

President Obama’s budget for the last four years, including this year is expected to rise just 0.4%, going from $3.52 trillion to $3.58 trillion. And that includes the stimulus.

I hate to burst the hot air balloon Republicans have been floating over Washington these days, but Obama has done a good job as steward of our federal dollars. Bush 2 certainly did not do a good job, and even the revered President Ronald Reagan didn’t do a very good job in his first three years in office, expanding federal spending by nearly 9% (See chart for government spending by all presidents since Reagan).

So the next time someone spreads the Washington whooper about President Obama spending this country into socialism or worse, dragging down the economy with his policies, just give them the facts and remind them that even Forbes, a conservative financial magazine and website, found Obama is not the fiscal boogeyman that so many Republicans claim he is. h

To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib at the Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. She can also be heard on Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media.


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Catherine Poe

Catherine was named one of the top Progressives in Maryland along with Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congresswoman Donna Edwards. She has been a guest of President Obama in the Rose Garden.

As past president of Long Island NOW, she worked to reform women's prisons in New York, open the construction trades to women, change laws to safeguard battered women, and protect the rights of rape victims. 

Long active in Democratic politics, she served as the presidentof the Talbot Democrats in Maryland for six years and fought to getthe Health Care Reform bill passed.

Catherine has been published in a diverse range of newspapers and magazines, including Newsday, Star Democrat, Rocky Mountain News, Yellowstone News, and the Massachusetts Review.

If Catherine has learned anything over the years it is that progressive change does not come easily, but in baby steps. 

Contact Catherine Poe

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