Spending in President Barack Obama’s first 2 1/2 years in office was unprecedented aside from during the height of the Second World War, spawning the Tea Party counter-movement and “STOP SPENDING” bumper stickers on cars across the country.
And yet here we are, eight years later with a much healthier economy and unemployment lows not seen in a half-century. But the current administration, led by the self-described “King of Debt” Donald Trump, has spent 13% more over the same time period.
During the first 33 full months of the Trump administration, from February 2017 through October 2019, the federal government has spent about $11.762 trillion. Over the same period, the Obama administration spent about $10.3 trillion — while bailing out all of the banks alongside welfare and unemployment benefit expansion in what was then deemed an “infamous spending binge,” according to a piece this week by Conservative Review Senior Editor Daniel Horowitz.
“To be fair, if you factor in inflation, the percentage increase is not nearly as dramatic. Using OMB tables expressing the spending figures in constant 2012 numbers, according to my rough calculation, Obama’s tab for the first 33 months would be $10.385 trillion and Trump’s at $10.722,” Horowitz wrote. “That would be only a 3.2 percent increase. However, a Republican presidency increasing spending in any way over the catastrophic levels of Obama is indefensible and demonstrates why we will never ‘conserve’ anything under the Republican Party and the political system of the one-way ratchet.”
Horowitz goes on to cite a number of factors that contributed to the massive spending under Obama, including rampant unemployment and more public services being used while Treasury revenues sank. Unemployment between 2009-2011 was between 9% and 10% while under Trump, it has dropped from 4.7% to 3.6%.
But Republicans controlled both chambers of Congress and the presidency for most of the first two years of the Trump administration, and still we have out-of-control spending, which is “inexcusable,” Horowitz contends.
“Let’s look at the revenue side of the ledger. Whereas spending (in non-adjusted terms) has been 13.2 percent higher during the first 33 months of the Trump administration relative to Obama, revenue has been 47 percent higher,” Horowitz wrote. “We only collected $6.3 trillion in revenue during the period from February 2009 to October 2011, as opposed to $9.3 trillion over the equivalent period under Trump. As such, we did rack up more debt under Obama for the same interval of time ($4.3 trillion as opposed to $3.1 trillion), but the debt today is much more indefensible. It’s simply astounding to be spending this amount of money with virtually full employment.”
However, as Horowitz notes, much of the new spending is going toward Medicare and Social Security, which are gaining more and more enrollees as the baby boomer generation reaches retirement age.
“But that in itself demonstrates the complete failure of the GOP to either address mandatory spending or at least cut discretionary spending to make up for some of the growth of entitlements,” Horowitz wrote. “There is no reason why, during the first two years, Republicans couldn’t have at least tackled welfare reform, even if they put Social Security and Medicare on a shelf. With a booming job market, they had the perfect opportunity to sell a message of ‘jobs, not welfare,’ much more so than in 2009.”
“So where are all the fiscal conservatives?” Horowitz wonders — as we also wondered recently when Ray Dalio said the U.S. will be forced to raise taxes to pay off the exploding national debt.
And that’s when Horowitz lays his true thesis down, saying that American society as a whole is inevitably marching toward the left — Republicans included.
“Almost every single Republican and ‘conservative’ think tank is to the left of where Democrats were on crime under Obama,” Horowitz wrote.
“Simply suggesting at any given snapshot of time that if Democrats were in charge, ‘things would be even worse’ is a red herring. In the long run, we always wind up lurching to the left, and Republican politicians of just a few years later always wind up being to the left of Democrats of yesteryear. The inexorable march toward a socialist utopia continues.”
Editor’s note: Horowitz concludes by saying that while, sure, “we will be better off” having another term of Trump in 2020 than a Democrat, but do you think he’s right that the U.S. is forever moving further left and ultimately toward socialism, or is he just an exaggerating alarmist? Are you concerned about how much the government is spending under Trump, who has said previously “I won’t be here” to take the blame when the national debt really blows up in our faces? Click here to read the Conservative Review piece in full and share your thoughts below.