If your question is, “has federal government spending ever been higher than it has since Obama has been in office,” the answer is yes, considerably higher. Federal spending is actually a considerably smaller percentage of the US gross national product than it has been historically. In terms of spendthrift presidents, Obama doesn’t even crack the top tier. Franklin Delano Roosevelt is undeniably the king, because in his third term federal spending soared to over 53% of GDP. Why? Very simple–he was trying to win World War II (and he succeeded). At least since 1900, the second spending champ is Woodrow Wilson, who spent about 25% of GDP during the previous world war. I could not find reliable statistics going back to before 1900, but my guess is that Abraham Lincoln’s federal expenditures during the Civil War, 1861-65, probably dwarf even FDR’s spending during World War II at least in terms of adjusted dollars. As you can see from the below chart, there is an uptick in spending at the end of the 2000s, attributable to the mortgage bailouts, but it’s curious that even this surge does not appear to be entirely on Obama’s watch, but clearly began at the end of George W. Bush’s.
Here’s a study that ranked U.S. presidents by their amount of spending, taking into account inflation and years spent in office: http://wmbriggs.com/blog/?p=265
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