Published for The Hill, September 30, 2011

President Obama recently proposed roughly $200 billion in new spending, along with some temporary tax relief.

President Obama recently proposed roughly $200 billion in new spending, along with some temporary tax relief. As Congress assesses this, it will have to face some inescapable facts.

Already under Obama, federal government spending has exploded by more than $600 billion per year. In President George W. Bush’s last full year in office, federal spending was just under $3 trillion; under Obama, it increased to approximately $3.6 trillion. That’s an increase of more than 20 percent, and it is set to rise even further.

On Obama’s watch so far, the size of the cumulative federal debt has increased from $10.6 trillion to $14.8 trillion — about 40 percent — and it continues to climb.

The president’s ideas for more new spending will need to be assessed in light of his earlier spending plans. Many people recall Obama’s $800 billion stimulus bill and the trillion-dollar spending increases in his healthcare legislation, but less public attention was focused on how spending increased across virtually all agencies and government programs.

For example, the State Department and other international assistance went from $47 billion in 2008 to $58 billion in 2010. The Labor’s Department’s budget authority went from $57 billion in 2008 to $179 billion in 2010. Medicare and Medicaid rightly get a lot of attention, but even they only accounted for increases of approximately $150 billion per year, or one-fourth of the spending explosion (some of which came from increases in federal Medicaid matching provided by the president’s stimulus bill).

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