Giving new meaning to ‘reckless spending’

Giving new meaning to 'reckless spending'
Giving new meaning to 'reckless spending'

Karl Rove’s attack operation, Crossroads GPS, is launching a new attack ad this week, spending $7 million on commercials accusing President Obama of adding to the national debt through “reckless spending.”

The complaint is ironic, in a way – the driving factors behind the debt are the policies left behind by Rove’s old boss – but it’s worth pausing to consider just how “reckless” government spending has been in the Obama era.

In a way, Rove accidentally stumbled onto an important point: government has been reckless, just not in the way he and other Republicans think.

TPM, borrowing a page from Paul Krugman, published this chart this morning, showing the rate of change of real government spending per capita. This isn’t just Washington spending; it includes state and local expenditures.

Notice anything? Take a look at the direction of the line on the right.

It’s simply accepted as fact among Republicans, reporters, and much of the public that government spending has just skyrocketed, reaching out-of-control heights since that wacky socialist president took office in 2009. But despite what everyone thinks they “know,” we’ve effectively seen a form of American austerity in recent years, and it’s holding back the economy.

Cutting government spending undermines economic growth. Hell, even Mitt Romney accepts this basic premise. And yet, here we are.

When there’s an economic downturn caused by too little demand, common sense and Economics 101 suggest we would boost public-sector employment and inject more capital into the economy. Thanks to Republican policymakers, in recent years, we’ve done the exact opposite – laying off public-sector workers and taking capital out of the economy.

That, to borrow Crossroads GPS’ word, really is “reckless.”

Why is the economy under-performing? This is why.