Is Obama Shrinking Big Government?
Less government is among the most cherished conservative Republican values.
Could it be, as many Obama apologists already declared long ago, that President Obama is shrinking big government? All Republicans before him have failed!
This is a timely question given that White House tours are suspended because of sequestration.
Remarkably, there is evidence supporting it. However, like most biased conjectures, it leaves out crucial data that disproves a ridiculous political claim.
The same data supporting the Obama claim also proves, beyond doubt, that President Obama is trying to do exactly the opposite.
It drops right out of this month’s BLS jobs report from the Establishment Survey.
Smaller Government: A Definition
For the sake of discussion, accept the Obama apologist supposition that shrinking government only means reducing the total number of government employees.
By that definition the above BLS chart (to the right of the yellow line) clearly shows that total government employment has gone down since President Obama took office in January of 2009. That is the main apologist argument.
For the record, the big spike is for temp workers hired to take the 2010 census.
Suspend thinking a moment. Ignore that the economy tanked; that no federal agencies have been eliminated; that government spending is still growing astronomically and that regulations are increasing geometrically.
Without any of that, the apologist argument still falls flat on its face.
Levels of Government
Excluding the military, there are just under 22 million total government workers in the United States.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recognizes and reports employment statistics on three levels of government:
- Local (14.1 million)
- State (5.1 million)
- Federal (2.8 million)
The federal government is the smallest of the three. Local government is, by far, the largest.
600,000 local government jobs have been lost since 2009. Things have now started leveling off.
Local governments are funded primarily through local and state taxes, with some federal assistance.
Most local governments are required to balance their budgets. They began contracting immediately as soon as tax revenues started drying up in 2009 due to the recession.
President Obama is not to blame for those job loses. In fact, he actively tried to prevent them with the 2009 “stimulus” bill.
Teachers, local police, first responders and municipal employees are funded by local government. The stimulus helped by kicking in with money to pay teacher, first responder and other local government salaries for two years.
About 330,000 teachers nationally were funded for two and a half years through the stimulus.
The federal government can’t control local funding. Local government employment fell despite Obama’s valiant efforts.
As of right now, it appears to be finally bottoming out on its own.
Recession job losses so far amount to about 200,000 state workers.
States are funded primarily through state taxes with some federal assistance.
Like local governments, most states require a balanced budget and their jobs also started to evaporate when the recession struck.
Unlike local governments, state job losses have not yet bottomed out.
2009’s stimulus helped prop up states by funding prison guards, state police and paying a greater share of state medicaid bills.
Again, state worker losses is not President Obama’s fault. He tried to prevent them.
Unlike the others, the President has direct control over federal government hiring and firing.
Look at the differences from state and local governments:
- Federal hiring continued rising into 2011 under Obama
- Federal employment is still above 2009 when Obama took office
That remains true even after subtracting out the big census spike.
It is true that total government employment is lower now than when President Obama took office. In that sense government is smaller.
President Obama poured hundreds of billions in stimulus dollars into state and local governments. They still lost jobs.
Where President Obama has direct control he grew the size of the federal government as best he could. That lasted two years longer than the others could do. No federal jobs have been lost. None will.
Under this President, anyone thinking otherwise are living in a dream world…
come sequestration or not.