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U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, is one of a small group of Republicans calling for an end to the government shutdown.
After all, Republicans have succeeded in reining in government spending, Ross wrote in an op-ed in the Tampa Bay Times (the parent of PolitiFact), on Oct. 7, 2013.
"In the few years since I was elected to Congress in 2010, we have achieved huge savings and taken monumental steps. For the first time since the Korean War, total federal spending has gone down for two years in a row," Ross wrote, adding, "That is why I would support a continuing resolution that funds the government at sequestration levels for one year."
A reader asked us whether Ross was correct that, "for the first time since the Korean War, total federal spending has gone down for two years in a row." We thought the claim was interesting, and we decided to check it out.
By the most basic measure we found that Ross is right.
The Korean War was an active conflict through the signing of a truce on July 26, 1953, so we counted starting in 1953.
Between 1953 and 1955, federal spending fell each year, from $76.1 billion to $70.9 billion to $68.4 billion, according to the Office of Management and Budget. By 1956, spending had edged up again, to $70.6 billion.
After that, spending almost always went up every year, at least until recently. It fell for one year between 1964 and 1965, and then once again between 2009 and 2010.
But the only time it fell two years in a row was between 2011 and 2013. In 2011, federal outlays were $3.60 trillion. Outlays fell to $3.54 trillion in 2012, and the Congressional Budget Office projects the figure to fall to $3.46 trillion in 2013.
We should note that this is not the only way to measure a claim like this. Sometimes, raw dollars aren’t an especially useful measurement for analyzing long periods of history, especially when talking about things that are growing. Inflation, population growth and economic expansion almost inevitably make the most recent year the largest ever. However, in this case, we think that using raw dollars is an acceptable measurement. That’s because reductions in spending mean swimming against the tide of inflation and growth.
Ross said that, "for the first time since the Korean War, total federal spending has gone down for two years in a row." Since the 1950s, spending fell one year between 1964 and 1965, and then once again between 2009 and 2010. But the only time it fell two years in a row was between 2011 and 2013. We rate the statement True.
Dennis Ross, "Rep. Ross: We need to get government running again" (op-ed in the Tampa Bay Times), Oct. 7, 2013
Congressional Budget Office, "CBO's Baseline Budget Projections, as of May 2013, With Percentages of GDP Updated to Reflect Recent Revisions by the Bureau of Economic Analysis," Sept. 11, 2013
Office of Management and Budget, "Table 1.2—Summary of Receipts, Outlays, and Surpluses or Deficits (-) as Percentages of GDP: 1930–2018," accessed Oct. 8, 2013
Office of Management and Budget, "Table 1.1—Summary of Receipts, Outlays, and Surpluses or Deficits (-): 1789–2018," accessed Oct. 8, 2013
PolitiFact, "John Boehner says U.S. will have record revenues this year," Oct. 7, 2013
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