GOP Graph Suggests Obama Doubled the Size of Government

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Here's how the GOP, in yesterday's Pledge, presented federal spending in the current White House versus previous administrations:

gopspendingasshareconomy.jpg

It's twice the size! It's true. The size of government doubled ... over a baseline of 17 percent. Here's what the graph looks like when you start at zero, instead of the mid-teens.

government_size_as_percentage_of_economy.png


And here's federal spending as a percentage of GDP since 1980.


spending federal 2009.png

What's my point? Of course federal spending is up in the worst recession since the Great Depression. Still, there has been a kind of thermostatic evenness to the size of government as a percentage of GDP for the last 30 years. The problem isn't 2010. It's 2020, when the Boomers retire.

Here's a graph of federal health care spending as a share of the economy since 1960. If federal spending's share of GDP is the barely movable object, health care inflation is the unstoppable force. Something's gotta give.

Thumbnail image for medical spending GDP.png

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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