COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - At a fundraiser for his re-election campaign in Denver tonight, President Obama set out to upend conventional Republican wisdom that his administration has been defined by excessive government spending.
"I'm running to pay down our debt in a way that's balanced and responsible. After inheriting a $1 trillion deficit, I signed $2 trillion of spending cuts into law," he told a crowd of donors at the Hyatt Regency. "My opponent won't admit it, but it's starting to appear in places, like real liberal outlets, like the Wall Street Journal: Since I've been president, federal spending has risen at the lowest pace in nearly 60 years. Think about that."
Obama was referring to an analysis released this week by Rex Nutting, a reporter for CBS MarketWatch who is also affiliated with the Wall Street Journal. Nutting concluded that Obama has presided over the slowest growth in federal spending in decades.
"Government spending under Obama, including his signature stimulus bill, is rising at a 1.4 percent annualized pace - slower than at any time in nearly 60 years," Nutting wrote, citing data from the Congressional Budget Office, Office of Management and Budget and an independent financial firm.
"The big surge in federal spending happened in fiscal 2009, before Obama took office. Since then, spending growth has been relatively flat," he wrote. "Over Obama's four budget years, federal spending is on track to rise from $3.52 trillion to $3.58 trillion, an annualized increase of just 0.4 percent. There has been no huge increase in spending under the current president, despite what you hear."
The Obama campaign circulated Nutting's article by email and posted it on its website Tuesday. The president picked up on the theme again today to hammer the point home.
"I just point out it always goes up least under Democratic presidents. This other side, I don't know how they've been bamboozling folks into thinking that they are the responsible, fiscally-disciplined party. They run up these wild debts and then when we take over, we've got to clean it up.
"They point and say look how irresponsible they are. Look at the facts, look at the numbers. And now I want to finish the job - in a balanced way," he said, referring to his plan to reduce the deficit through a combination of spending cuts and tax hikes.
The Romney campaign noted that more than $5 trillion has been added to the debt during Obama's first term, though in 2008 Obama called the $4 trillion added under Bush "unpatriotic."
The Republican National Committee pointed out that while growth of spending and debt may have slowed, Obama has overseen the three largest deficits in U.S. history. (They also pass along fact-checker Politifact's 2011 designation of Obama as the "undisputed debt king" of the last five presidents.)
Obama spoke in Denver following his appearance at the U.S. Air Force Academy commencement ceremony in Colorado Springs earlier in the day. He then headed to California and Iowa for four more money events.