Forget what you’ve heard from the GOP about spending and regulations

Updated
 
Forget what you've heard from the GOP about spending and regulations
Forget what you've heard from the GOP about spending and regulations
Mark Thoma, Economist's View

Mitt Romney’s economic speech in Chicago yesterday and the Paul Ryan’s new House Republican budget have something important in common: they offer a vision that’s at odds with reality.

To hear these leading Republicans tell it, President Obama has strangled the domestic economy with countless regulations and runaway binge spending. We know that first point is completely wrong – not only do regulations not hurt the economy, but the number of regulations has gone down, not up, under Obama.

But about the second point? Everyone knows Obama has increased spending, right? Wrong. Mark Thoma published this helpful chart showing per capita spending per administration for the last four decades.

“This,” Andrew Sullivan noted, “is the kind of reality that makes Sean Hannity’s head explodes.”

Derek Thompson added, “Going by federal expenditures … it would seem that if Obama’s a socialist, Ronald Reagan is Karl Marx with an ICBM.”

I’d just add one nagging detail: this isn’t good news or something the White House should necessarily brag about. Given the nature of the economic crisis, the national economy needed more spending, not less. Under these circumstances, the recovery would have been faster and more robust if Congress and the Obama administration had spent like, well, most modern Republican administrations.

More capital in the system would mean more growth, more jobs, and a more sustained recovery. The above chart is fascinating, but it’s not encouraging.

That said, it does make one detail clear: Republicans who whine about Obama spending and regulating to excess have no idea what they’re talking about.

Barack Obama

Forget what you've heard from the GOP about spending and regulations

Updated