Government spending under Obama has been flat

Via email:

Seeing the Krugman commentary comparing real government spending under Obama and Reagan made me curious about what it looks like if you express it in per capita terms? In particular, how does the Obama period compare with other presidencies in terms of penury/austerity versus spendthriftness?
To compare presidencies, I did the calculation two ways. One starts in the quarter before the president was elected (e.g., 2008Q4), the other starts in the first quarter of the presidency (e.g., 2009Q1). (The ARRA probably had some effect in Q1, but most of the change was simply economic conditions that the incoming president had nothing to do with, so I think I prefer the Q1 to Q1 method). Ranking since Johnson (starting in 1968), and using the first-quarter comparisons, and calculating growth under Obama through 2011Q4, Clinton is the most austere, followed by Obama. The most spendthrift are (1) Nixon-Ford, (2) Reagan, and (3) Bush II. The figure is pasted below:

Barry, I’m surprised you published this chart as it shows the spike in government spending under Obama! :)

Here are the notes that came with the older version of the graph:

Seeing the Krugman commentary comparing real government spending under Obama and Reagan made me curious about what it looks like if you express it in per capita terms? In particular, how does the Obama period compare with other presidencies in terms of penury/austerity versus spendthriftness?
To compare presidencies, I did the calculation two ways. One starts in the quarter before the president was elected (e.g., 2008Q4), the other starts in the first quarter of the presidency (e.g., 2009Q1). (The ARRA probably had some effect in Q1, but most of the change was simply economic conditions that the incoming president had nothing to do with, so I think I prefer the Q1 to Q1 method). ...
Posted by on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 12:24 AM in , , |

Government Spending Under Obama

Government spending under Obama in response to crisis vs ORIGINAL POST, SEE UPDATE BELOW: Earlier we made the argument that the Obama recovery has been 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.

Government spending continues to fall under Obama

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.

How spending has fallen under Obama - Jan. 27, 2014


The main Republican campaign theme for the upcoming election has been excessive government spending under Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress that has failed to lower the unemployment rate below 9 percent. In particular, Republicans say the $787 billion economic stimulus bill passed last year has failed to bring promised jobs and other economic benefits.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.