According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the economy grew by a modest 2 percent in the third quarter of 2012. While this was stronger growth than the preceding quarter, all of the increase in GDP growth came from the biggest increase in federal government spending in over two years.
In this week’s chart, Mercatus Center senior research fellows Veronique de Rugy and Jason Fichtner provide a comparison of the official unemployment rate reported by the media with alternative measures of the unemployment rate reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Data from the BLS is used to assess labor market conditions from several perspectives.
In the face of ballooning federal budget deficits, people have been wondering how the Clinton surpluses evaporated. Indeed, between 1998 and 2001 and for the first time in decades, the U.S. budget was balanced. Using Congressional Budget Office data, these two charts—modified from the ones made by Charles Blahous in his e21 piece “How Did Federal Surpluses Become Huge Deficits?”—provide some answers to this question.
Money-saving proposals through Medicare reform are a significant issue for the upcoming election. This chart re-examines Medicare costs over time using the most recent data from the 2012 Trustees Report and Congressional Budget Office. Between 1975 and 2011, the number of Medicare enrollees doubled to 48 million, and the real cost per enrollee quintupled.
This chart uses data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Employment Tables to show the number of jobs gained during each presidential tenure since 1945. The chart shows the historical record of how presidents rank against each other by number of jobs gained and the unemployment rate.
Compare the size of the tax revenue increase to the total amount of spending, and you will see where the problem lies. Even if the president manages to collect an additional $967 billion by letting some of the Bush-Era tax cuts expire, Washington still has a spending problem.
Four out of every five dollars in the currently debated bill—roughly $80 billion per year—will be spent on groceries bought with food stamps for one in every seven Americans. An estimated 45 million Americans received food stamps in 2011 at a cost of $78 billion. That’s a two-fold increase from just five years ago, when 26 million people received benefits at a cost of $33 billion.
Nearly 90 percent of the 1705 loans guaranteed by the federal government since 2009 went to subsidize lower-risk power plants, which in many cases were backed by big companies with vast resources. It’s hard to imagine that these big companies wouldn’t have access to capital if the project were in such high demand.
The farm bill comes up for renewal every five years, and its specific provisions determine whether major farm programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will continue. As Congress considers reauthorization of the farm bill this year, it is important to put the history of farm bill spending in proper context.