FoxNews.com misleads on FY09 spending to attack Obama as "Spender in Chief"

››› ››› JOCELYN FONG

A graphic posted on FoxNews.com suggested that President Obama is responsible for all of the $3.5 trillion in federal outlays for Fiscal Year 2009. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has stated that "much" of the 2009 increase in spending "results from legislation enacted in calendar year 2008 in response to turmoil in the housing and financial markets-in particular, $133 billion for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and $291 billion for the estimated costs of placing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into conservatorship."

FoxNews.com graphic attributes all FY09 spending to "Spender in Chief" Obama

From FoxNews.com on November 25:

FoxNews.com Obama big

But spending came in response to severe recession and much of FY09 spending was enacted by Bush

FoxNews.com: Fiscal Year 2009 includes "the last three-and-a-half months of George W. Bush's term." The FoxNews.com article to which the graphic linked noted that "[i]n fiscal 2009 the federal government spent $3.52 trillion -- $2.8 trillion in 2000 dollars, which sets a benchmark for comparison. That fiscal year covered the last three-and-a-half months of George W. Bush's term and the first eight-and-a-half months of Obama's." However, the article obscured the magnitude of the actions taken by Bush in those final months and stated that the FY 2009 budget "was about a half-trillion more than Bush's for 2008, his final full fiscal year in office. That's a big increase."

FY 2009 budget changes largely "the result of the severe economic downturn" and the government's response. CBO stated in its August 25 Budget Update that "[t]he dramatic expansion of the deficit in 2009 (up from 3.2 percent of GDP in 2008) results from a projected rise in outlays of 24 percent (the largest percentage increase since 1952) and a drop in revenues of 17 percent from last year's levels (the largest percentage drop since 1932). Those changes have largely been the result of the severe economic downturn and the fiscal impact of federal policies enacted in response." By contrast, Bush and Clinton did not assume the presidency in the midst of a severe recession.

CBO: "Much of" increase in spending from FY2008 "results from legislation enacted in calendar year 2008." CBO stated in its August 25 Budget Update that "[t]he deterioration in the fiscal picture results from both increased outlays and decreased revenues. Relative to what they were last year, outlays will rise dramatically-by 19 percent according to CBO's estimates. Much of that increase is a result of policy responses to the turmoil in the housing and financial markets-particularly spending for the TARP and the conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac." More specifically, CBO stated:

Outlays will rise by about $700 billion this year, in CBO's estimation. Much of that increase results from legislation enacted in calendar year 2008 in response to turmoil in the housing and financial markets-in particular, $133 billion for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and $291 billion for the estimated costs of placing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into conservatorship. CBO expects that total spending in 2009 from funding provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, Public Law 111-5) will reach about $115 billion.

November 2009 CBO budget review shows impact of policies enacted under Bush. CBO's November 2009 Monthly Budget Review states that the total outlays include $154 billion in funds for TARP, which Bush passed in October 2008, and $91 billion in payments to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were placed into conservatorship by the Bush Administration in September 2008. The Budget Review also showed that $202 billion was spent in FY2009 to service the Public Debt amassed by previous administrations over decades. CBO noted that "[s]timulus spending from ARRA totaled $108 billion in 2009--$32 billion for Medicaid, $22 billion for unemployment benefits, and $54 billion for other programs and activities."

CBO chart

CBO projected outlays of $3.5 trillion for FY 2009 before Obama took office. On January 7, CBO stated in its Budget and Economic Outlook that "[w]ithout changes in current laws and policies, CBO estimates, outlays will rise from $3.0 trillion in 2008 to $3.5 trillion in 2009."

Posted In
Economy, Budget
Network/Outlet
FoxNews.com
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