PolitiFact | Tom Coburn says government is twice the size it was a decade ago: "On the July 24, 2011, edition of NBC’s Meet the Press, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., sought to give some perspective on the size of federal spending -- a central factor in the current debate over raising the debt ceiling.
Addressing host David Gregory, Coburn said, 'David, everybody's talking about the symptoms of our problem instead of the real disease. The government's twice the size it was 10 years ago. It's 30 percent bigger than it was when (Barack) Obama became president. The problem is that we're spending way too much money, and it's not hard to cut it without hurting entitlement benefits. But we don't have anybody that wants to do that without getting a tax increase.'
We wondered whether Coburn was right that the size of government has doubled over the past 10 years...
... doubling the 2001 outlays over 10 years would have meant a 2011 figure of $3.72 trillion. Since the actual figure is higher than that, Coburn is right that the cost of government has doubled over the past decade.
What about Coburn’s second claim, that government expenditures are 30 percent bigger than they were when Obama became president?
For this one, it depends when you start the clock.
If you use fiscal 2008 as the baseline -- which we confirmed with Coburn’s staff was his intention -- then the comparison is just about right. Federal outlays increased by 28 percent between fiscal 2008 and fiscal 2011, which is just below the 30 percent Coburn cited...
... We also considered whether Coburn intended to blame Obama for this spending increase. This was a tough call. Re-reading his claim, we don’t feel that his use of the inauguration of a new president as the cutoff point necessarily invokes blame. The entirety of Coburn’s comment encompasses government growth over a 10-year period, most of which was clearly under a Republican president, George W. Bush, and not Obama. And the inauguration of a new president is a pretty natural dividing line for making mathematical comparisons.
'No one has a more consistent record of being a nonpartisan critic of spending than Coburn," said Coburn’s communications director, John Hart. "He has been criticizing Republican and Democratic spending for many years.'
We agree with this assessment, so we’ll give Coburn the benefit of the doubt on whether he intended to place the blame for government growth on Obama.
So what's the bottom line? Coburn is entirely right about federal outlays doubling over 10 years. And if you use one of two plausible measures, he’s right on the growth since Obama took office. But using another plausible measure, the growth of government under Obama was smaller. On balance, we rate Coburn’s statement Mostly True."