Skip to main content

Obama Defeats FDR (In Spending Other People's Money)

  • Author:
  • Updated:

After President Obama signed a law last week authorizing the United States Treasury to borrow an additional $1.9 trillion, he ironically delivered a speech about his deep commitment to frugality.  To put Obama's Olympian hypocrisy in perspective, one need only examine the federal budget tables posted on the White House Website by his own Office of Management and Budget (OMB), says Terence P. Jeffrey, an editor at large for Human Events. 

They reveal startling facts, says Jeffrey: 

  • When calculated by the average annual percentage of the gross domestic product (GDP) that he will spend during his presidency, Obama is on track to become the biggest-spending president since 1930, the earliest year reported on the OMB's historical chart of spending as a percentage of GDP.
  • When calculated by the average annual percentage of GDP he will borrow during his presidency, Obama is on track to become the greatest debtor president since Franklin D. Roosevelt.
  • Obama will outspend and out-borrow the admittedly profligate George W. Bush, a man Obama and his lieutenants routinely malign for fiscal recklessness and who, when in office, was often hailed even by his allies as a Big Government Republican.
  • Obama will even outspend -- but not quite out-borrow-his fellow welfare-state liberal FDR, who had to contend with both the Depression and World War II. 

FDR was inaugurated in March 1933 and died in April 1945.  He is thus responsible for the 12 fiscal years from 1934 to 1945.  During those years of depression and world war, according to OMB, federal spending averaged 19.35 percent of GDP.  During Obama's four fiscal years, OMB estimates spending will average 24.13 percent of GDP.  That is about 25 percent more than under FDR, says Jeffrey: 

  • Obama and FDR share one historic debt-accumulating distinction -- by OMB's calculation, they are the only two presidents since 1930 to run up annual deficits that reached double figures as a percentage of GDP.
  • Obama will run up a deficit this year of 10.6 percent of GDP; the last time the deficit hit double digits as a percentage of GDP was 1945 -- when Germany and Japan surrendered. 

The United States won the Cold War without ever running a double-digit deficit.  President Reagan's highest deficit was 6 percent of GDP in 1983 -- and he bankrupted the Soviet Union not the United States, says Jeffrey. 

Source: Terence P. Jeffrey, "Obama Defeats FDR (in Spending Other People's Money)," CNSN News, February 17, 2010. 

For text:

For more on Federal Spending & Budget Issues:


Popular Video