Pharos-Tribune

Opinion

November 4, 2013

LYONS: The truth about government spending

"Reagan proved that deficits don't matter."

— Vice President Dick Cheney, 2002

Given the great hullabaloo in Washington over government spending, here are a couple of noteworthy facts: Under President Obama, the federal budget deficit has been more than cut in half, from a FY2009 high of $1.55 trillion (largely inherited from George W. Bush) to an estimated $642 billion this year, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

However, a recent Bloomberg News poll shows that only 10 percent of American voters are acquainted with this indisputable fact. Fifty-nine percent mistakenly believe that the deficit has risen under Obama. Another 26 percent think it's remained approximately the same. It's hard to run a democracy given such widespread public ignorance.

Militant ignorance, much of it. Fully 93 percent of Tea Party members subscribe to the false belief that government spending is skyrocketing out of control. No wonder they're running around with their hair on fire.

But hold that thought, because there's more: Measured as a percentage of the overall U.S. economy, the federal budget deficit has shrunk from 10.1 percent in 2009 to 4 percent today. Given increased revenue and decreased spending, the CBO projects the figure will decrease to 2.1 percent by 2015.

"By comparison," the May 2013 report notes, "the deficit averaged 3.1 percent of GDP over the past 40 years."

And for this we needed a government shutdown?

And yes, I said decreased government spending. Contrary to the myth of federal profligacy under President Obama, total expenditures for FY2013 and 2014 (which began last Oct. 1) have actually gone down for two years running, together with government employment.

Overall, since 2009 government spending has risen at an annualized rate of only 1.4 percent, as compared to 8.1 percent during George W. Bush's second term, 4.9 percent during Ronald Reagan's, and 5.4 percent under George Bush the Elder. Bill Clinton averaged 3.9 percent during his second term.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
  • THEIR VIEW: Indiana needs open primary elections Indiana's primary election system is dysfunctional. What the state really needs is an open primary system. This month, the Lake County election board argued about the procedures for recruiting high school students as poll workers for the May 6 primar

    April 23, 2014

  • KITCHELL: Tax bills show what smoke & mirrors don't There's a price to be paid for the decline in what we call civic engagement -- and local property taxpayers are paying that price. In case you haven't received your 2014 Cass County property tax statement yet, be prepared for a bit of sticker shock w

    April 23, 2014

  • MARCUS: Illinois brings joy to Indiana From the email this week, I sensed a profound need by Hoosiers to find joy in the problems of Illinois. Our neighbors to the west are fighting their way through a mess of their own making. They have forced themselves to raise taxes and cut services t

    April 22, 2014

  • THEIR VIEW: Let voters weigh option of easing daily commute There was a time in this country when workers typically lived less than an hour's walk from their jobs. A time when a "commuter" was simply a traveler taking advantage of a reduced railway fare on his way to the big city. A time when the American sub

    April 22, 2014

  • VILLAGE IDIOT: Wait a minute here — what did I just sign? When Dr. Sam said, "You've got the prostate of a 16-year-old," it was hard to keep from beaming. This must be how a woman feels when a complete stranger tells her she has a beautiful baby. Well, maybe not quite. Still, it was hard not to feel proud o

    April 22, 2014

  • LYONS: How we devalued the 'R' word At the risk of angering somebody like MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry, I sometimes used to joke that I only look white. Actually, I'm Irish. Meaning basically that I wasn't raised to think the man in the big house had all the answers, nor deserved all t

    April 21, 2014

  • HAYDEN: Want better teacher ratings? Ask the kids The state may be back where it started, encumbered with a flawed teacher grading system, a year after implementing what were meant to be tough new standards. That was the general consensus of the State Board of Education days after teacher evaluation

    April 21, 2014

  • THEIR VIEW: Careful look at tax structure needed Indiana legislators this year created a "blue-ribbon commission" to study the state's taxes on businesses this summer. We hope the commission will listen to Larry DeBoer, a Purdue professor who might understand Indiana's tax structure better than any

    April 20, 2014

  • KNISELY: Adventures in cat spaying If you're a regular reader of this column, you know I have a cat. I got the cat to deal with the mice. Even if you only pop in on this column from time to time, you still likely know I have mice and that I hate them. I complain about it quite regular

    April 20, 2014

  • PUBLIC FORUM: Letters for Sunday, April 20, 2014 Power forum hopes to answer questions Do you pay electric bills? Then you are invited to learn how Public Power can often lower electric rates. Logansport's coal firing plant must be shut down within two years, and our contract with Duke expires in f

    April 20, 2014

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Should mushroom hunters be allowed to forage off-trail in Indiana state parks?

Yes
No
Undecided
     View Results
Featured Ads
AP Video
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.