Economics

An End to Spending Excess

The case for budgetary restraint

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One of the reasons the federal budget is chronically in the red is that most people, historically, couldn't care less. The national debt is an unfathomable abstraction that doesn't show up on your 1040 or your monthly bills. Over the last few decades, very few people lost sleep worrying if the budget would ever be in balance.

Keynesian economics, as well as political incentives, argued for ignoring the issue. When times were good, we could afford to indulge. When times were bad, deficit spending was the accepted formula to stimulate the economy.

The voters' lack of concern enabled both parties to indulge their natural instincts. Democrats contributed by enacting costly new programs. Republicans did their part by cutting taxes. Fussbudgets who called for fiscal responsibility were treated like the adult chaperone on the college kids' trip to Cancun.

There was rarely a moment when it seemed imperative to live within our means. That's how the publicly held government debt rose tenfold from 1977 to 2008.

It's hard to believe now that during the 1990s, a Democratic president and a Republican Congress worked together to not only wipe out deficits but produce surpluses—for four consecutive years.

That ended after 2001, with war and recession providing the Bush administration all the excuses it needed. Today, the Clinton-era discipline seems like an inexplicable fit of sobriety in a long-running bender.

But even incorrigible drunks sometimes hit bottom and realize they can't go on partying forever. They see that if they continue, they will throw away everything else they value. It can be enough to make them change their ways.

Maybe Americans are reaching that point when it comes to federal spending and taxes. After years of paying no attention to the national account books, they have had a glimpse of just how bad things are, and they've reacted with horror.

In a Gallup poll conducted last month, 79 percent of Americans said federal debt is an "extremely serious" or "very serious" problem—more than any other issue except terrorism, with which it tied. A survey by the Pew Research Center found "the highest percentage volunteering the deficit as a top national problem in nearly two decades."

What brought this was the spending surge that began in 2008 under President George W. Bush and continued under President Barack Obama. After years of comparatively moderate irresponsibility, the government began spraying money with a fire hose—on bank bailouts, insurance company bailouts, automaker bailouts, and stimulus packages.

Between fiscal year 2007 and fiscal year 2008, the deficit nearly tripled, and the following year it tripled again. Citizens got the sense that we were no longer sliding toward bankruptcy; we were tumbling off a cliff.

As polling expert Karlyn Bowman of the conservative American Enterprise Institute puts it, "Cumulative sticker shock has set in." In March 2009, 52 percent of Americans endorsed Obama's handling of the deficit. Today, only 36 percent approve.

The consequence is growing resistance to spending initiatives. Even the Obama stimulus package was smaller than most liberal economists wanted. The president has been induced to propose a three-year freeze on non-security discretionary spending—and congressional leaders in both parties have bought in.

His budget director has asked every federal agency to come up with cuts amounting to 5 percent of their outlays. Democrats had to cut back a proposed jobs bill, and even in shrunken form it got voted down Wednesday by the Senate. For the first time in quite a while, politicians are forced to trim their plans to match a public mood of frugality.

Does that signal a lasting skepticism about the expansion of government programs? Maybe not. Bowman tells me the historical pattern is that "when we think we and our families are doing OK, we seem to be more comfortable letting government do a bit more."

But the past is not always a guide to the future. The fiscal events of the last two years have been seared into the national consciousness in a way no previous spending binge has. For the foreseeable future, at least, there will be a heavy burden on those who favor more expenditures to justify them.

We have not reached a new era of consistent budgetary restraint. But it looks like the age of excess is over.

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  1. “There was something otherworldly about the circumstances in which Republicans took power in 1995. They seemed to have a mandate from heaven, and that gave Speaker Newt Gingrich and House Majority Leader Dick Armey the power to drive the institution in unusual ways. They centralized their control and kept the appropriations committee’s “cardinals” ? the chairmen of its subcommittees ? from pursuing their perpetual calling of unchecked spending.

    “We kind of sat on them,” Armey says. “Newt Gingrich and I had an advantage. They all knew that no one could call himself a chairman without us. That gave us a leverage that Denny [Hastert] and Tom [DeLay] never had.” They also had a boldness that came from inexperience. “In the beginning,” says a former leadership staffer, “we were like kids who didn’t know what we couldn’t do.”

    It was inevitable that the normal character of the institution would slowly bounce back. Or even rapidly bounce back. The government-shutdown fight in 1995-96 with President Bill Clinton was an epochal defeat for the cause of limited government. House Republicans never quite recovered, even though they continued to tussle with Clinton over spending for a few years afterward, reaching a balanced-budget pact in 1997.

    Armey dates the slackening of fiscal discipline to the summer of 1997. “By July of 1997,” he says, “the chairman of the appropriations committee said he wouldn’t work with me.” The balanced budget, achieved in 1998, denied House conservatives their most telling argument against spending ? that it would increase the deficit. Brian Riedl of the Heritage Foundation notes that in 1998 there were 2,100 earmarks, funds specifically designated by congressmen to go directly to projects instead of being distributed by a federal or state agency. After that, earmarks increased by roughly 33 percent every year.

    The shutdown debacle contributed to George W. Bush’s formulation of a post-limited-government conservatism. After Bush was elected, he and the GOP Congress forged a mutual embrace of fiscal laxity. The GOP majority wasn’t going to sink Bush’s agenda, because that would hurt a Republican president and the party’s fortunes. Bush wasn’t going to veto congressional excess, because that would hurt the GOP majority and the party’s fortunes.” – Rich Lowry
    http://old.nationalreview.com/…..300818.asp

    Clinton fought tooth and nail against spending discipline by the GOP Congress he had to deal with after ’94. The extent that Clinton was successful in this effort helped to the create the political climate that taught Bush and his Congresses that they would not be rewarded for fiscal restraint and would not be punished for being spendthrifts. Clinton is the grandfather of the exploding deficit.

      1. Ashlee Simpson:the simple purple one-shoulder night gown with the same simple black Louboutin heels,is lively but elegent.Charlize Theron:white lace pattern,matching with lattice pattern fish-head-shape shoes,she looked elegant and illusive.For Rachel Bilson,she looks so attractive in peep-shoes of the color of hawksbill.When she appears in a cocktail party with Kristen Bell who wears the leopard-patterned christian louboutin,they are the center.In addition to re-instituting fashion trends,his christian louboutin pumps also have a celebrity following.

    1. No, I think it was me.

  2. We have several problems that all relate to this:

    1) Everyone wants to cut spending but not at their expense/sacrifice.

    2) Those that can cut spending often just want to get re-elected, so they don’t. Or only half-heartedly fight it.

    3) The voices for ‘smaller government’ are the same voices to fix unemployment, unregulated capitalism, natural and ecologic disasters – NOW.

    4) We have very intelligent solutions but no one wants to implement them. Andy Rooney (60 minutes) suggested paying each member of congress $1M each per year – but that is the absolute cap – no expense acct, no travel stipend, no extra $$ for staff – spend more and it comes out of the next year’s salary. I would add – no pensions, no life-long health coverage. Let them pay their own 401K, etc.

    1. For the record, Andy Rooney is an imbecile. I was disappointed to see the judge gushing over that other imbecile Glen Beck on his Freedom Watch show. Glen was talking about how he started to wake to libertarianism 7 or 8 years ago (or something like that). I guess he had a relapse when he was calling people like me Paulistas and terrorists and cheer leading for Dubya’s asinine and tragic wars.

  3. It’s hard to believe now that during the 1990s, a Democratic president and a Republican Congress worked together to not only wipe out deficits but produce surpluses?for four consecutive years.

    Not really. The ‘unified budget’ did, but that lumps in all the social security receipts which were at the time still well in excess of payouts per the program’s structure and demographics.

    FY 2000 was the only year where ‘ordinary’ tax receipts exceeded (non-FICA) spending.

    1. FY 2000 was the only year where ‘ordinary’ tax receipts exceeded (non-FICA) spending.

      I’m kind of curious about this. Maybe there’s something I’m missing, but how can this be true when the year-to-year debt increased that year? Treasury.gov has this for historical debt outstanding in 2000 and the years bracketing it:

      2001 5,807,463,412,200.06
      2000 5,674,178,209,886.86
      1999 5,656,270,901,615.43

      Looks like an increase (what would I give to get back to such small increases, though!) from 1999 to 2000 to me.

      1. Compounding Interest

      2. Matt, is has to do with how we count the interest the Social Security Trust Fund earns as income, when we are the ones paying it.

        1. The fund I’ll have to wait another twenty years to collect on, IF I live another twenty years or it doesn’t go bankrupt in the interim?

          Yeah, that’s a great investment.

          1. You have claimed to be pretty poor, have you not?

            Assuming so, you must be utterly ignorant of how the math behind social security works, because poor and working class people make out very well. And don’t worry, and future cuts will happen to wealth-creators like me, not people in the bottom three quintiles.

    2. So unfunded liabilities increased? Is this what it means to use long-term financing to fund near-term expenses? I hear that’s a brilliant strategy.

  4. How many trillions of dollars is the US obligated for? And how much does that put every family in the hole for? At this point talking about “fiscal responsibility” and “cutting spending” is absurd. It all sounds “business as usual” and when the shit hits the fan (see, no scare quotes.)all this talk about controlling spending will sound quaint. The true absurdity of our predicament will not be real for people until most of us are eating out of garbage cans.

    1. Thing is, we’ve been told for decades now that the debt is going to get us and it hasn’t. Probably never will.

      1. “Thing is, we’ve been told for decades now that the debt is going to get us and it hasn’t. Probably never will.”

        I would agree with this statement completely if you just changed the word “debt” into “global warming catastrophies”.

      2. Thing is, we’ve been told for decades now that the debt is going to get us and it hasn’t. Probably never will.

        Governments can run small deficits more or less indefinitely if they control their own currency. The US ran plenty of 0.5% GDP per year deficits in the 50s and 60s. If the US was running a $70b deficit this year, no one would care.

        What can’t happen indefinitely is deficits of 10% of GDP per year. At some point, capital markets stop lending to the government, and the government either has to print money, default, or enact deep austerity measures. None of these are fun.

        If a nation has a ridiculously high savings rate like Japan, you can run huge deficits for longer. With the US savings rate, not so much.

      3. [Thing is, we’ve been told for decades now that the debt is going to get us and it hasn’t. Probably never will.]

        You’re from Greece, right?

  5. I may be mistaken, but I believe the last time the U.S. had a truly balanced budget was sometime in the 1830s.

      1. The 1830’s was when the government completely paid off its national debt.

  6. But even incorrigible drunks sometimes hit bottom and realize they can’t go on partying forever.

    F U! Never! What do you think “incorrigible” means?!

    1. If you can print money, you can pretty much party forever.

      1. Wrong. Please Google “Weimar republic”.

  7. anybody need a hand?

  8. The Voracity of Hope. Still voracious!

  9. Clinton had absolutey nothing whatsoever to do with reducing the deficit.

    The primary cause was increased tax revenue due to an economic expansion in the private sector.

    An expansion that began before he took office in his first term and ended before he left it in his second (i.e. he had nothing to do with creating it or sustaining it).

    1. Which is why you cut Obama so much slack on the current economy, right?

      1. Obama doesn’t deserve any slack. Go ahead, say it… “racist!” You know you want to.

        1. Because “slack” rhymes with “black”. Got it.

      2. Why would I cut him any slack for massively increasing government spend, government power and government mandates?

        It is literally physically impossible for any of those things to ever benefit the country in any way.

        1. Because anything but boot-licking fealty to Barry, is racist AND seditious.

          Until the next president comes along, which unless it’s a Democrat, it’s okay to verbally disagree with him/her.

    2. Clinton had absolutey nothing whatsoever to do with reducing the deficit.

      Once again you prove your ignorance.

      The Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 cut federal spending close to $300 billion and closed the deficit over twice that.

      It passed without a single GOP vote in the Senate.

      http://goliath.ecnext.com/coms…..-1993.html

      1. it raised taxes.

        It created 36 percent and 39.6 income tax rates for individuals in the top 1.2% of the wage earners.
        It created a 35 percent income tax rate for corporations.
        The cap on Medicare taxes was repealed.
        Transportation fuels taxes were raised by 4.3 cents per gallon.
        The taxable portion of Social Security benefits was raised.
        The phase-out of the personal exemption and limit on itemized deductions were permanently extended.

        1. But the point is that Clinton is the ONLY president that has seriously addressed the deficit in the last 50 years.

          1. maybe, but he only raised tax revenue instead of cutting spending which is what this article was all about.

            1. No – you didn’t read the link.

              “The deficit-reduction package proposed a cut of $493 billion over four years, $247 (billion) of it coming from spending cuts and $246 billion from tax increases, almost exactly a 1-to-1 ratio.”

              1. wait, this wasn’t from that article?

                “In a joint session of Congress on February 17, 1993, President Clinton unveiled his budget proposal that included deep spending cuts, but which relied overwhelmingly on tax increases to bring the deficit downward. At the same time, Clinton proposed to quickly boost short-term job creation by pumping billions of dollars into new spending programs. Clinton’s deficit-cutting plan was the largest in history, proposing to save nearly $500 billion over four years. Of that amount, roughly two-thirds would go to reduce the deficit, while another third would be used to pay for increased job creation and long-term investment spending, making net deficit reduction at the end of the four years of the plan about $325 billion (Hager, 1993).”

                and this little gem:

                “Though the deficit-reduction plan made notable spending cuts, its heavy reliance on tax increases displays the difficulties the Clinton economic team had coming up with acceptable spending cuts. “

      2. “Once again you prove your ignorance.”

        Not on your say so, boy.

        1. Stop picking on my boy. You’ll scar him for life.

  10. The author makes the common mistake of claiming the budget was balanced (even a surplus!!) under Clinton. As MattJ points out, this is simply not true and was merely the use of budget shenanigans (and Social Security funds) to make it seem like the budget was balanced.

    And this is important. If people think that all we have to do is go back to the “fiscal conservatism” of the late 90’s in order to get our finances in order, they are VERY mistaken. We need to be much more fiscally conservative as a country than we were at that time (due to the boomer bubble.)

    1. But can we at least get there first? You’re telling the 800 lb shut-in that he has to eat like he did when he was 190. Let’s get him down to what he was eating at 350 first, then we can take the next step. If you do things stepwise, people will see that the world doesn’t fall apart and are willing to trust you to take the next step. Is stepwise too slow for our current fiasco? Maybe. But it’s better than calling for a truly balanced budget and watching the fatty’s eyes glaze over as he tries to find solace in the Cheetos bag.

      1. The problem is that the structural gimmick that Clinton and the pubs in congress were able to abuse (massive FICA surpluses that could be used to paper over discretionary-spending deficits) no lonmger exist. There is no way to return to that model because SS and Medicare now pay out more than they collect.

        We’re in the inverse situation. Barring any substantive reform to SS and Medicare (which is politically unlikely), we need to run significant income tax surpluses in order to paper over massive and rapidly increasing deficits in the entitlement juggernauts.

  11. The whole current mess is the extreme (so-called) conservatism regarding regulation. I’m all for deregulation when it’s invasive but when the concept of deregulation is simply a whoring the laws against fraud, it isn’t free market any more, it’s legalization of fraud. NOBODY wants their pension funds used as an ante-up in a craps game. There’s a big difference between a wise investment and the nonsense that was going on during the last couple presidential terms.

    1. Are you a robot or something? This is insanely off topic, and sounds word for word like some of the dem talking points I have been hearing being posted by various dem operatives.

      1. Explain to me the wisdom of “credit default swaps” if you think what has passed for deregulation is wise.

        As for being off-topic, sorry to confuse you with a concept beyond simplistic black and white, but you see, most of the absurd levels of spending in the past couple years have been undertaken in an effort (good or bad) to salvage an economy devastated by deregulation to the point of fraud. LOL – an insurance policy without even a reserve, really.

        Makes about as much sense as your idiotic partisan blindness. Dems do something and it’s bad. Reps do the exact same thing and it’s good. We understand.

        1. The economy wasn’t devasted by “deregulation” in the first place.

          The mess was caused by government interfering the markets and trying to engineer economic outcomes for political reasons – something that was never Constitutionally any of it’s business to begin with and is certainly beyond it’s capability in any case.

          1. God damn, you’re stupid.

            Deregulated banks repeatedly lost their deposit bases in the banking panics of 19th century and the Panic of 1907. This pattern didn’t end until the FDIC and other regulations went into effect.

            When net capital rules were dropped in 2004 unregulated Wall St. over-leveraged and lost trillions in value.

            No one “interfered” with Lehman, Bear, Merrill, or the investment house at Citi and BoA. No one “forced” them to make bad loans so don’t trot out some tired CRA lie that AM radio rednecks use so often.

            1. you’re forgetting to mention regulation causing artificially low interest rates to only further encourage predatory lending

              1. Imaginary deregulation isn’t the whole problem but it’s enough of a problem that if it could be removed from recent history (2004 on) we wouldn’t be in this mess.

                Yeah, the Dems aren’t much better. The GOP whores itself like a call girl; the Dems whore themselves to the masses for votes; anybody with $40. Either way, the public pays.

            2. “God damn, you’re stupid.”

              There isn’t so much as a single word you’v said that proves it.

            3. Well lets see, there was the Federal Reserve trying to “manange” the economy by keeping interest rates low.

              Nothing free market about that.

              There was Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (nothing free market about their very existence in the first place) that were lowering loan standards and buying up bad loans from other banks as well as investing in bad loans themselves – all for purely political reasons.

              There was the idiotic Sarbox “mark to market” rules that forced banks to write down long term loan assets based on short term trading metrics which greatly contributed to the panic and credit freeze.

              And then there was the government MANDATED oligopoly in the credit rating busiess of S&P, Moodys and Fitch that blessed junk paper with high ratings.

              In short, there was government meddling going on all over the place that had a hand in creating the mess.

              1. ++ on the “Mark to Market”. This doesn’t get nearly enough attention, but it is the major driver of the banking failures.

                I have seen the results of “mark to market” up close in my line of work and although it seems to make logical sense at first blush, it becomes farcical on further examination. Our CEO was railing against this 2 years before the crash – because we were being forced to value some assets below our cost based on mark-to-market. These were long term assets that have very small markets – so they are not very liquid and trades occur only a few times a year, at most. Still, we are required to price them to the market every month. Mark-to-market ignores 1/2 of the market: the willing seller. We would never sell these assets below cost, so by definition they could not have that market value. The new accounting rules say we have to value them as if we would sell them today, so we get large and stupid fluctuations in our balance sheet that are not reflections of any reality.

                The banks saw exactly the same effect with their mortgage holdings. Once the write-downs began, the market for mortgage backed securities dried up – driving the “market value” to essentially zero – since you couldn’t really sell them at any reasonable price. Other federal regulations required the banks to sell these assets in the teeth of a bear market to maintain asset ratios. Magically you just made the solvent insolvent – sometimes in a matter of days.

                1. Mark-to-market is a FASB standard. FASB is a private org. The SEC was deluged with accounting fraud on asset marks.

                  Marking only hurt over-leveraged poorly run banks.

                  Wall St investment banks didn’t originate mortgages or borrow from the Fed (until fall of 08). They collaborated with the ratings agencies.

                  Wall St Investment banking died of self-inflicted gunfire – not regulatory burdens.

                  There is not a shred of evidence otherwise and tons on their idiocy.

                  1. There is not a shred of evidence that you know a damn thing about it.

              2. Stop lying about the CRA causing the housing downturn. Everyone is entitled to own a home, you selfish bastards.

            4. “Deregulated banks repeatedly lost their deposit bases in the banking panics of 19th century and the Panic of 1907. This pattern didn’t end until the FDIC and other regulations went into effect.”

              Pls read some of Rothbard’s “A history of money and banking in the United States.” True, there was no federal reserve in the USA back then, but there was an active treasury and a government supported national banking network. The post civil war banking era was a completely different monster than the close to “free banking” era of Jacksonian rule. Since the formation of the federal reserve in 1913 and the banking regulation that ensued before and after the great depression, we’ve been on a roller coaster business cycle ride. The Great Depression itself occurred with a central bank in place. After the great depression and all of the new regulations that it came with, we’ve seen numerous recessions, bouts of mass inflation, and increased leveraging. Sure, during the post war boom, the federal reserve seemed to be doing its job, but somehow no amount of regulation or control from the fed has been able to slay the business cycle.

              Since the Bretton Woods gold exchange standard ended (the last vestiges of an illusion of a gold standard), the planet has seen massive credit expansions and crashes and unskilled wages in the USA have been growing only as fast as inflation. Throughout the 1800’s real per capita GDP grew at a slightly slower rate than we saw this century (most of the years of high GDP growth occurred during the 20’s expansion and the WW2 borrowing frenzy, both of which were unsustainable; the civil war by contrast actually led to economic decline dragging down statistics from the 19th century), but real unskilled wages grew faster much of the time. The 19th century was one of the greatest periods of economic expansion and expansion in quality of life. True, it wasn’t the ideal situation, the ideal situation being a 100% reserve, gold based monetary system, but it wasn’t some kind of hell compared to the period of massive government regulation that we find ourselves in today. Also, a much larger share of the population in the 19th century were children, and the country was flooded with new immigrants every year. Population grew at more than twice the current rate throughout the 19th century. Somehow, wages still seemed to skyrocket and GDP growth continued unabated. The fastest periods of per capita GDP growth during the 19th century? Well, that would be the period after Jackson eliminated the national bank up to the civil war, and the period after the return to the gold standard, 1879-1890.

              1. Plus, you lefties always forget the massive subsidization of the railroad and coal industries via land grants and outright handouts. Although there was far less regulation overall in the 1800’s, this era was nowhere near a true free market. However, the fact of the matter is that over leveraging and the boom bust cycle will occur as long as fractional reserve banking exists. No amount of government regulation will ever prevent such catastrophe.

          2. Gilbert: the economy was devasted by unlimited gambling, which is precisely what derivatives and CDOs are. They are simply side bets on the value of anything (usually financial assets) and are actually disconnected from the ownership of anything. This is how the Wall Street freaks wound up gambling more money than there is in the whole world on a regular basis.

        2. Explain to me the wisdom of “credit default swaps” if you think what has passed for deregulation is wise.

          As for being off-topic, sorry to confuse you with a concept beyond simplistic black and white, but you see, most of the absurd levels of spending in the past couple years have been undertaken in an effort (good or bad) to salvage an economy devastated by deregulation to the point of fraud. LOL – an insurance policy without even a reserve, really.

          1. CDS actually helped most of the big banks because they cashed in on them (at the expense of AIG and the taxpayer).

            That said – they should be put into a visible exchange like options are now so that exposure is up-front and open.

            1. Shrike, that’s pretty much the point. If everything is known about an investment a reasonable decision can be made. If information is hidden or withheld, it’s fraud. Even if “deregulation” has legalized the fraud, it’s still fraud.

        3. “Makes about as much sense as your idiotic partisan blindness. Dems do something and it’s bad. Reps do the exact same thing and it’s good. We understand.”

          1. What libertarianism is NOT, is a bunch of mindless redneck babble.

            LOL – regardless of what Glenn Beck programs you to think.

  12. If people think that all we have to do is go back to the “fiscal conservatism” of the late 90’s in order to get our finances in order, they are VERY mistaken.

    Although that would be a hell of a good start.

    1. “But… but… the government can’t have a budget like a typical private-citizen household budget! The government can’t clip coupons! You just don’t understand how complex it is! Learn macroeconomics!”

      FUCK, and I tired of hearing that shit.

      1. John Maynard Keynes was a fucking visionary! How dare you speak ill of him!

        1. I’d STILL have his baby!

      2. Wrong, LG. The government should be just like a private household, who SAVES during the good times and BORROWS during the bad times.

        Why can’t Republicans understand the first half of that?

        1. I don’t have one bit of debt, Chad. No credit cards, no mortgage, car’s paid for. I don’t borrow money for shit I don’t need.

          And why are you asking if Republicans understand something? You’re not talking to them here.

          1. Democrats don’t understand either half of it. Why should Republicans?

          2. And when you get laid off, or seriously ill, you dip into your savings and/or borrow. Duh.

            The problem is that as a nation, we don’t save during the good times, so we have no choice but to borrow when things go sour.

            What would be even stupider is to go “hey, I got sick and lost my job. So I better cut back on my spending pronto…so I won’t go to the doctor and get cured!”, which seems to be the conservative plan.

            1. Nah… most people are programmed to go on welfare when they miss a paycheck or two.

              1. Yeah, Chad, but we plebes can’t just print our own money and go into trillions of dollars of debt per household.

              2. Yeah! We’re entitled to free food and money! Take it out of Bill Gates’ pocket and hand it to us!

  13. “An End to Spending Excess” Yeah, that’ll be happening soon!

    1. you rang?

      1. The era of big government is over… there at Obama’s house!

  14. I’ll handle this, step aside mortals

  15. Bush and B.O. remind me of Jared Leto’s character in “Requiem For A Dream”

    “MOM OPEN THE DOOR, ILOVEU!” Then steals the T.V. and pawns it.

  16. After years of comparatively moderate irresponsibility…

    I’m not sure that I’d say that W’s spending, especially post 9-11 which gave what he and his congress considered a blank check, is anything close to modest. Not even comparatively modest. He too sprayed money with a hose, the flowvwas just not quite as high.

    1. Comparatively modest by the standards of 2007-present. Comparatively excessive by the standards of the entire period of human history preceeding 2000.

  17. What a great column!

  18. Steve Chapman: Brilliant posting!

  19. Just want to say what a great blog you got here! I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

  20. My procurement specialist helps me save a lot of money. He’s awesome at saving me money on big contracts with other companies.

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