One More Must-See Chart On Government Spending Under Obama And Reagan

ORIGINAL POST, SEE UPDATE BELOW: Earlier we made the argument that the Obama recovery has been much more impressive than the Reagan recovery since A) The conditions Obama inherited were wildly worse and B) Federal government spending under Obama didn’t grow as fast as it did under Reagan.

But we were just looking at Federal Government spending.

Here’s a look at annual government spending growth at all levels: federal, state, and local.


Here it’s even more lopsided. In Reagan’s first four years in office, government spending grew by at least 7.5 per cent, and in the first two years, government spending grew by over10 per cent year-over-year. Obama hasn’t had one year of government spending growth over 7.5 per cent, and the growth in government spending in 2011 that appears as the second smallest in this chart, is actually the third smallest since WWII.

Although GDP has been mediocre under Obama, he’s achieved a rebound in growth with much less stimulus than Reagan did, and, it should be noted, that despite predictions from many economists, there’s been no double dip, unlike with Reagan.

Again: Obama 1, Gipper 0.

UPDATE: It’s been noted by some that it’s unfair to compare government spending growth under Obama and Reagan this way, since it doesn’t account for inflation, which was obviously much higher in the early ’80s.

Using real dollars, adjusting for inflation, we get a slightly different picture, but only just slightly different.

The growth in real government spending during Obama’s first two years was ahead of Reagan’s first two years, but following that, Reagan really kicked it into overdrive, especially in the mid ’80s. Government spending, while it got an initial jolt under Obama, is now shrinking at the fastest pace since the late ’60s.

Furthermore, at no point has government spending growth under Obama been unusually high, as you can see in the second chart, which dates back to 1947.


And here’s that same chart going back to 1954, which further emphasises how restrained spending has been under Obama.


Again, given all this, the  economic rebound under Obama looks extremely impressive.