It shocked the nation and spawned an entire political movement that led to a shift in the political balance. Spending during Obama’s first few years in office was at a level never seen previously in our nation’s history except during the height of WWII. It provoked the Tea Part counter-movement, as “STOP SPENDING” bumper stickers propped up across the nation. Fast-forward eight years later, and under Trump and Republicans, spending is now even higher, with a much healthier economy and job market.
During the first 33 full months of the Trump administration – from February 2017 through October 2019 – the federal government has spent roughly $11.762 trillion, according to tabulations of monthly statements from the Treasury Department. If you flash back to the equivalent 33-month period during the beginning of Obama’s first term – from February 2009 through October 2011 – spending was approximately $10.3 trillion. That was the period of all the bank bailouts and the stimulus. That was the period where we saw the expansion of welfare and unemployment benefits. Yet, today, outlays are 13.2 percent higher than the infamous spending binge.
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. 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.
During 2009-2011, we were still languishing from the worst recession in memory. Unemployment was rampant, and many more public services were being used, as revenue to the Treasury plummeted. Contrast that to today, with one of the best job markets post-WWII, and it’s simply inexcusable for spending to be this high under a Republican administration with trifecta control of government for the first two years. Whereas unemployment during 2009-2011 hovered between 9 and 10 percent, under Trump, it has dropped from 4.7 to 3.6 percent.
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. 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.