Two years ago, there was a flurry of excitement because MarketWatch journalist Rex Nutting crunched annual budget numbers and proclaimed that Barack Obama was the most fiscally conservative president since at least 1980.
I looked at the data and found a few mistakes, such as a failure to adjust the numbers for inflation, but Nutting’s overall premise was reasonably accurate.
As you can see from the tables I prepared back in 2012, Obama was the third most frugal president based on the growth of total inflation-adjusted spending.
And he was in first place if you looked at primary spending, which is total spending after removing net interest payments (a reasonable step since presidents can’t really be blamed for interest payments on the debt accrued by their predecessors).
So does this mean Obama is a closet conservative, as my old—but misguided—buddy Bruce Bartlett asserted?