A Recap of Federal Government Spending
The Mercatus Center's Dr. Veronique de Rugy produced a short fact shee of government spending, including several helpful charts. As she notes, government spending was an important issue in the 2010 election, and is expected to remain so in the 2012 elections. Here's a short background on the source data and the chart below:
"Using data from the Office of Management and Budget, this chart shows the amount of real federal dollars spent per capita over the past 40 years. The data clearly highlight that, after adjusting for population and inflation, federal outlays have, with a few exceptions, mostly grown, with a clear increase over the past 12 years."
The chart below shows that per capita spending slowly increased in a fairly narrow range from 1977 until the end of President Bill Clinton's second term. In fact, per capita spending under President Clinton actually saw a decline from $8,200 to $8,000. However, "that trend was radically reversed during George W. Bush’s two terms. President Obama’s first budget spent $11,600 per capita."
Take a minute or two to look at the other charts, e.g. one shows the growth in the nation's Gross Domestic Product or the one showing federal spending as a percentage of GDP.