Two Cheers for Bad Governance!
The GOP House proved resistant to the kinds of spending measures on infrastructure and Democratic slush funds and whatnot Obama kept insisting on, and continued Democratic control of the Senate meant that budgeting became a thing of the past. Capitol Hill lurched from crisis to crisis, the only real results being the sequester and oodles of continuing resolutions. The sequester cut discretionary spending growth off at the ankles, if not at the knees, and the CRs have done a fair-to-middling job of restraining the rest.
(I’ll pause here another moment to note that when the People's House is unable to significantly alter spending levels or priorities despite deep and sustained changes in its members and their governing philosophies, then we have a representative republic with deficiencies bordering on pathologies.
And now back to our story once again.)
It’s true that gridlock locked in continued levels of massive spending, but it also meant that new discretionary spending, the kind the Democrats enjoyed so much of from 2009-2011, was off the table. The result? The economy grew, and Washington’s share of it declined. Federal spending as a share of GDP last year was just a shade over 20% -- the smallest share we’ve enjoyed under six years of Obamanomics. 2013 wasn’t much worse, and we had decent job growth that year, too.
Watch out, though -- spending is scheduled to jump back up to about 21.5% of GDP in this FY2015 budget.
If the Left wants to claim that massive spending early in Obama’s first term saved us from another Great Depression, I’d be willing to stipulate the point -- provided they concede that restraint in the years since has given the private sector the breathing room it needed to get some people working again.
And if not? Then I for one welcome two more years of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad governance -- which is about only thing Washington produces with any regularity. But this once it seems to be working for us.