Government Spending

"Between 2007 and 2011 alone, the rate has increased 38 cents per dollar."


This chart, by Reason columnist and Mercatus economist Veronique de Rugy, is worth looking at for a long time—like one of those 3D posters, gaze with deep focus until you see the secret spaceships or dolphins come alive in the data.

From the writeup:

Data from the President's FY2012 budget shows historical amounts of federal government borrowing on the dollar from fiscal year 1980 to present day. Positive amounts represent budget deficits or the amount by which total government spending exceeds total revenues during a specified period.

Today, 43 cents of every dollar spent is borrowed; this amount is about 4 times the rate in 1980. Between 2007 and 2011 alone, the rate has increased 38 cents per dollar. At this pace, the historical trend of deficit spending continues at a distressing rate.

The government ran a budget deficit in every year from 1980 to 1997, and continued this trend in 2001 and onward. The surplus that finally emerged in 1998 was produced by increased tax revenues that a sustained economic expansion generated; and without the aid of increases in tax rates.

As critical debate over the debt ceiling continues, the amount of spending that is borrowed should be put in proper perspective. A continued proliferation of federal spending won't help to contain the debt.

Read more here.

And check out Ron Paul's ad about how past deals on raising taxes and cutting spending have worked out:

And while you're at it, read "Five Uncomfortable Facts About the Wonderful, Horrible Debt-Limit Debate."

And then, for a laugh, read the 2009 classic, "Obama: Tomorrow We Scrimp, but Tonight We Spend Like There's No Tomorrow."

And there's this roundup of polling by Ed Morrissey of Hot Air about whether the debt ceiling should be raised. The short version? Respondents are against an increase by a 2-to-1 margin.

NEXT: Reason Morning Links: Moody's, Mumbai, and a Vaccination Operation

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  1. The graph is a lie. We didnt have any years in which the total federal debt didnt increase.

    There was no surplus in 1998-2000.

    (yeah, yeah, intergovernmental blah blah blah, the Treasury Dept counts it)

    1. intra not inter.

      1. I think you may be trying to have it both ways.

        If you count intragovernmental debt (mostly, the “special” notes issued to SocSec after the government spends the SocSec surplus) as “real” debt, I’m not sure you can also argue that the SocSec “trust fund” is pure fiction, since it consists of those special notes.

        Personally, I’m a pure fiction guy, and on a purely current, consolidated basis, I think the chart is valid.

        If you want to treat entitlement obligations in the out years as real, enforceable obligations, then you need a completely different chart showing the net present value of those obligations. That’s when you get into the debt being iver $100 trillion, with no balanced budget in our lifetimes.

        1. I think you may be trying to have it both ways.

          I think Im trying to have it three ways, as Ive argued in favor of GAAP accounting too.

          GAAP accounting is the most accurate if we assume congress will actually meet those “obligations”. But I dont, so falling back to the cash basis with intragovernmental debts makes the most sense until the day congress stops talking about “entitlements” and starts refering to SS as “old people transfer payments”.

          Yes, I buy the pure fiction theory too, and the Supremes mostly agree (although they havent gone QUITE that far yet). But, in the short term, that intragovernmental debt is being treated by congress as real, so I dont see a reason to cut them any slack.

          The Treasury Dept counts it, its good enough for me, for now. If congress declares the trust fund a lie officially, the Treasury can retro recalculate those numbers.

    2. We didnt have any years in which the total federal debt didnt increase.

      This is not correct (though it is true that pols from the era on both sides try to take credit for the unifed budget figures)

      On Sep 30, 1998 (end of FY 98) the debt held by the public was

      On Sep 30, 1999 (end of FY99) it was 3,636,104,594,501.81

      On Sep 30, 2000, (end of FY00) it was

      (there was also a tiny drop between end of FY97 and 98)


  2. I am Surly. And surly.

    Stupid joke names.

    1. Surly you jest!

      1. Don’t Call Me Surly

  3. 09/30/2002 6,228,235,965,597.16
    09/30/2001 5,807,463,412,200.06
    09/30/2000 5,674,178,209,886.86
    09/30/1999 5,656,270,901,615.43
    09/30/1998 5,526,193,008,897.62
    09/30/1997 5,413,146,011,397.34

    ^^^From the treasury dept, “Historical Debt Outstanding”. Anyone see a single fiscal year in that stretch in which the debt didnt increase? Me neither.

    1. Funny how people who keep claiming that Clinton produced a surplus just blithely ignore this. And considering the Republicans were the ones authorizing the spending, you’d think he’d have done the math and pulled out the veto pen more often.

  4. 09/30/2010 13,561,623,030,891.79
    09/30/2009 11,909,829,003,511.75
    09/30/2008 10,024,724,896,912.49
    09/30/2007 9,007,653,372,262.48
    09/30/2006 8,506,973,899,215.23
    09/30/2005 7,932,709,661,723.50
    09/30/2004 7,379,052,696,330.32
    09/30/2003 6,783,231,062,743.62

    For completeness and to make you barf.

    1. Wow they almost doubled our debt in 4 years, that is fucking impressive.

  5. BTW, that 9/30/2010 number works out to about $45k per American.

    1. What amazes me is just how little the average person got for all that, especially the huge Obama payouts.

      And it still gets me that Bush gave out $300 to people filing tax refunds, while Obama gave billions directly to Wall St. scumlords. Yet the alleged egalitarians still support Hopey Changey?

  6. As I noted when I linked to this in FB:

    “Oh, BTW, this right here? Yeah, THIS is why I don’t want to hear about “defaults” and “shutdowns” (actually, I’d be OK with a a shutdown – ANARCHY!!!!11!), etc. It’s all bullshit. The issue is SPENDING, specifically in the last 4 years. Grandma’s SS has nothing to do with this – it’s all stimulus and 1000 weeks of unemployment and Cash for New Car Dealers. And it’s all BORROWED.

    So suck it, Geithner and Obama and Boner and McNoChin, you lying sacks of shit. We WILL not “default” unless YOU let us. PS Fuck off, slavers…”

    That is all.

    1. Also, Ms. de Rugy? You ROCK! Good work as always.

    2. As much as I enjoyed The Skinner, I feel “fuck off, slavers” is kind of becoming an H&R special Godwin variant. Taxation and out of control government surely sucks, but it’s far less atrocious than

      replacing human’s brains and spinal columns with control units and incinerating the still living cerebral tissue.

      1. robc derives the FOS convention from A Deepness in the Sky.

        And there are many forms of slavery. “Serfdom” is more appropriate, but it was a form of slavery, so why beat around the bush?

        1. You are probably better at me than this, but the oldest usage of FOS I cant find searching the site is P Brooks in Aug 2009. I responded to it with “Cool, I created a meme”.

          BTW, it seems to be spreading around the intarwebs from a google search, so if I really did create it, I would like to be able to claim credit for it.

          Well, I already am, but, you know, and it be correct.

          I know I used the phrase at least back in 2008 if not earlier, but Im not a diabetic archivist, so I cant find it.

          1. This appears to be the origin thread. You actually work to formulate it, and then state it in a reply to Chad.

            And it also has the first fractional slavery argument you ever posted, if memory serves.

            1. Huh, I would have guessed much older.

              Man, comment threads were much better without nesting.

              Im enjoying rereading this one. Due to changes in incif, I never say the libertymike comment bitching about me filtering him then using expletives. Likes he thinks that is why I filtered him or something.

              1. So it looks like Brooks was first to use the actual phrase: “Fuck off, slavers”. Based on my comments in that thread. I then ran with it.

        2. Oh, and in The Skinner…


          The Prador-controlled Hoopers are not chattel slaves. They have had their higher brain functions destroyed and are turned into remote-controlled automatons. The closest parallel is classical voodoo-type zombies.

          Spider thralls get closer to chattel slavery, in that they still have their minds, but unit overrides the victims willpower completely. Which is slavery, but still not chattel slavery in the classic Africans-in-America sense in that they still possessed free will, even while being violently coerced into obedience.

  7. How about we just adopt the Fiscal Year 2000 budget adjusted for inflation? It wasnt quite balanced, but $18B is close enough, considering.

    Its a Clinton Budget so the Dems shouldnt have any problem with it, right?

    1. I’d settle for 1910, not adjusted for inflation.

    2. Are you okay with a return to the Clinton-era tax rates?

      1. You know, as I posted, I said to myself some idiot would post that.

        And no.

        But even with current tax rates, Im betting the 2000 budget gets us to effectively balanced immediately.

        Of course, even Obama doesnt want Clinton era tax rates, he hasnt talked about getting rid of the 10% bracket.

        1. And, yet, that is the only way to get serious revenue enhancement.

          1. Agreed, the 15%->10% bracket cut was probably the only cut that might, maybe, sortof have actually lowered revenue.

            When you consider FICA and state and local taxes, I think the 10% bracket is probably still above the Laffer curve peak, but it might not be.

            If it was really about needing more revenue that is the obvious change to make.

            It would be fun to see the Dems proposing the elimination of the 10% bracket and GoPers opposing it.

            I think that would break some brains somewhere.

    3. That would be just like Somalia.

      1. Anything not what we want = Somalia.

        1. An African president?

  8. That’s the best Ron Paul ad I’ve seen. That’s encouraging.

    1. A great ad. So much better than in 2008. I could almost be tempted to give him money again.

    2. I know. It’s like he isn’t aiming for the Tancredo vote this time.

      When I was campaigning in Iowa for him in 2007 the ads I heard on the radio were so bad we had to shut them off to keep feeling enthusiastic enough to talk to people about RP.

  9. I made the mistake of channel surfing over to Morning Joke for a few minutes. The “content was as vacuous as always, but what really got me were the commercials about how “Congress is stealing our Social Security and Medicaid and Medicare that we worked so hard for, and put all our hard-earned money into!!!!”

    Has anybody ever (barring untimely death) gotten an amount from SS in any way related to their contributions?

    1. Re: P Brooks,

      I made the mistake of channel surfing over to Morning Joke for a few minutes.

      Don’t fret, I don’t believe that anybody lands on Morning Joe on purpose.

    2. I saw one of those AARP ads this morning. I’d like to see one with an old rich guy whipping a teenager, just for balance.

  10. If you want a graph like this to be readable post it as a GIF or PNG.

  11. So the problem is that people don’t want to raise the debt ceiling and want to get rid of the deficit, but when asked about specific popular (but expensive) programs, they don’t want to see them cut. There are less popular programs that could be cut, but they won’t solve the problem.

    So… why not go ahead and cut those programs first, and THEN start making the case about the rest when it obviously isn’t enough? Wouldn’t that go a long way towards convincing the general public about what must be done?

    Yeah, I know.

    1. If the government stops sending money to someone who does nothing to earn it, that is the same as stealing money from them and giving it to someone who earned it.

      not giving = theft

      not stealing = giving

      No programs can be cut because that amounts to robbing the poor and giving to the rich.

  12. The surplus that finally emerged in 1998 was produced by increased tax revenues that a sustained economic expansion generated; and without the aid of increases in tax rates.

    No silly, It’s the other way around. The increase in tax rates generated the sustained economic expansion. Haven’t you been watching MSNBC?

    1. Re: free2booze,

      The increase in tax rates generated the sustained economic expansion.Haven’t you been watching MSNBC?

      And CNBC. And they say that with a straight face, so it must be true!

  13. The increase in tax rates generated the sustained economic expansion.

    Save us, Harry S Truman!

  14. No end in sight?

  15. I blame the 2000 “surplus”

    Once they realized there was more money than could spend, they were like, “Jesus, these fuckers actually *make money faster than we can spend it??* You’ve gotta be kidding me. Enough of this pretend-*sanity* shit!! Spend baby spend!!”

    Obviously its slightly more complex than that….but only slightly.

    1. No that was probably exactly how it went down.

  16. The roof, the roof – the roof is on fire.

    We don’t need no water let the motherfucker burn.

    Burn motherfucker, burn.

    1. We will put out that fire by closing loopholes on corporare jets. Problem solved America, your welcome!

      1. Of course, I’ll never cop to admitting I shouldn’t have encouraged the corporate-jet loopholes in My stimulus plan… hey, what’s that shiny thing over there?

  17. We need to make a commercial in which a bunch of old geezers surround a teenager and taunt and rob him.

    And another one with a really fat old codger stealing the food off a small child’s plate.

    1. Yes. A reverse-Clockwork Orange.

      It’s a stinking world cause there’s no law and order any more. It’s a stinking world because it lets the old get on to the young like you’ve done. Oh, it’s no world for a young man any longer. What kind of a world is it at all?

  18. “Is gold money?” he [Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tx.)] asked. Clearly bothered, [Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben] Bernanke told the representative, “No. It’s a precious metal.”

    “Only *I* get to say what money is, and money is what *I* say it is.”…..not-money/

    1. It’s just a filthy shiney metal that people would rather have than The Bernanke’s steadily sinking paper.…..ion-prices

      1. An extremist libertarian GOP that has taken charge of the U.S. House of Representatives

        WTF? I wish.…..-of-yokels

        1. Repealing the ban on light bulbs is pushing the republic into anarchy.

          These douchebag puppet in the media have become unironic self parodies.

          1. When we call people yokels and rednecks, it in no way contradicts our stance against hate speech and ugly stereotypes.

            1. Unless those yokels attend tractor pulls.

  19. the only way to get serious revenue enhancement.

    We don’t need revenue enhancement. “We” need to stop spending so fucking much money.

  20. The vast majority of that increase happened under GWB from FY2007 – FY2009. Not that it absolves Obama because he kept right on spending, but it’s not just an Obama problem.

    1. But when OUR President does it, it’s okay because it’s for a good cause!

    2. GOP prez+Dem congress seems to be the worst of all possible worlds.

      1. I used to think that until 2009-2010. Dem prez, Dem Congress with filibuster proof majority is the worst.

        Of course I don’t think we’ve had a GOP prez and GOP Congress with filibuster-proof majority since Reconstruction, so who knows what horrors lurk in that scenario.

    3. The entirety of the spike from 2007 through 2010 happened under a Dem Congress, don’t forget.

      A big big chunk of the FY 2009 jump happened after Obama took office, as well, with his “stimulus” bill.

      Clearly, its not just an Obama problem. Its a Washington problem. On spending, I would say Repubs are cokeheads, but Dems are crack/meth whores.

      1. Well, the GOP congress raised spending at a breakneck pace while revenues increased during the early 2000s, so their hands aren’t really clean either. The spike happened when revenues dove while spending still increased.

  21. Clearly we need to raise the debt limit, we’re Americans god damn it, we can do better then a 38% increase!


    I just like the way that sounds.

    “I will gladly pay you Tuesday, for a hamburger, today. Worry not, I will stake my full faith and credit on it.”

    1. Did Whimpy ever actually pay anyone back for his hamburgers?

      Also did Whimpy have a job?

      For some reason I thought maybe he was some sort of bureaucrat.

      1. Wimpy eventually paid everyone back in hamburgers via his restaurants.

    2. and poeple called me a crook.

  23. Great Ron Paul ad. He needs to run on his unmatched record as a fiscal conservative, not on a bundle of libertarian positions the general public is wary of (even if we’re all for them).

  24. How about a graph of total federal spending vs revenues. Go back to 2001, when spending was half what it is now, and revenues were ten percent lower than they are now.

    1. In 2000 dollar was probably worth triple what it is now.

  25. The surplus that finally emerged in 1998 was produced by increased tax revenues that a sustained economic expansion generated; and without the aid of increases in tax rates.

    Wait what?!?!?

    I was just arguing with Tony/Max/shrike because i am a libertarian shill….I never thought that they were actually wrong.

    Who knew?

  26. When the economy sucks, government spending increases and revenue declines. When the economy is great, government spending declines and revenue increases. Exception-overseas wars tend to help the economy and increase government spending.

    So, in the late 1990’s, no overseas wars (of note; minor things like our involvement in the NATO mission in the former Yugoslavia aren’t significant enough to count), great economy-budget surplus. 2001-2003, bad economy, one overseas war-budget deficit. 2003-2007, good economy, two overseas wars-budget deficit. 2008-present, horrible economy, two overseas wars-huge budget deficit.

    Pretty simple, actually.

    1. The federal government hasn’t had a surplus since 1957. It did come close in 2000.

    2. When the economy is great, government spending declines and revenue increases.

      Really? Governments cut their budgets when tax revenues are piling up during a boom? I hadn’t noticed.

      1. Well, there are less payouts in unemployment insurance and welfare and the like, although the main thing there is people are making more money and paying more taxes.

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