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Slowest Spending in Decades?

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Government tends to grow in spurts, with budgets not decreasing after each spurt. This “ratchet effect” of fast growth then tapering off amounts to a long-term trend: growth.

You’ve probably seen Rex Nutting’s MarketWatch squib, the subject of many a Tweet and Facebook post. Entitled “Obama spending binge never happened,” it begins, “Of all the falsehoods told about President Barack Obama, the biggest whopper is the one about his reckless spending spree.” Nutting reframes the issue as one of the rate of spending growth . . . just as Republican apologists did in the ’80s, even though spending under Ronald Reagan’s first term grew at a whopping 8.7 percent — a bigger rate increase than Obama’s. Nutting entitles his graph comparing administrations’ spending growth rates “Slowest spending in decades,” indicating not how much Obama has been spending over revenue, but year-to-year rates of increase.Barack Obama, Spree Spender

The prez gets a bad rap.

Well, yes and no. The graph should make party-loyal Republicans and Bush admirers cringe with shame. Sure. But Obama and the current Congress are still spending. Hugely. And rapidly — those dollars fly out the door!

Further, by maintaining high annual deficits, Obama has increased the federal debt so that this year it has shot above 100 percent of current Gross Domestic Product, a first for my lifetime.

Obama can be blamed for not doing the decent thing after the horrible six years of united government under the Republicans, he didn’t reduce spending.

In other words, he’s no Warren G. Harding, who presided over a huge contraction of government spending, thereby helping usher in a quick recovery from the post-Great War bust.

We could use a man like Warren Harding again.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

Down and Out and California

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Barring drastic action, the Golden State will run out of cash in March.

There is no provision in the Constitution for dealing with a bankrupt state. But then, there’s nothing explicit dealing with federal bankruptcy, either. The founding fathers didn’t expect their republic to permanently accumulate debt. Indeed, Thomas Jefferson wished to foreswear all sovereign debt. He considered the practice parasitic.California's Direction

Our leaders are supposed to run our governments so to avoid debt crises.

But, because politicians do just the opposite, they run into cash flow crunches. Last year, California’s statesmen borrowed $5.4 billion to cover the lean time before Spring’s tax revenues flowed in. They had figured they would be good through June, but miscalculated. Now they’re scrambling for an extra $3.3 billion.

Time to fudge the books! Pay late. Not answer the phone or respond to dunning notices.

Of course, the real problem is over-spending. California’s politicians spend too much.

Alas, it doesn’t look like they are about to reform.

Gov. Jerry Brown still pushes the huge “investment” of high-speed rail, for the grandest example. The project’s supporters have over-estimated ridership, underestimated costs (the most realistic official accounting now puts the system at $98 billion), and have been forced to restrict the extent of the line, excluding both San Diego and the state capital. Brown’s response? Making up for cost overruns by hijacking funds from the state’s “cap-and-trade” (the nation’s only carbon-footprint-based) tax.

Ah, politicians: Spend, spend, spend, even as the institutions they are responsible for lurch into insolvency.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.