(Updated on 5/23/12 @ 11:55 am. See end of post for Romney campaign response.)
Democrats like Stephanie Cutter, deputy campaign manager of President Obama's re-election effort, and Donna Brazile, the Democratic political strategist, were delighted to point on Tuesday to an analysis of federal spending under President Obama compared with his predecessors.
Rex Nutting, a journalist who writes for the MarketWatch website affiliated with The Wall Street Journal looked at the data and found that rhetoric and reality don't quite match up.
Nutting found that, contrary to repeated allegations from the president's political foes, including Mitt Romney, that Obama has been on a federal spending tear, he actually hasn't.
Indeed, Nutting, spending under Obama has actually occurred at a slower rate than it did under previous White House occupants.
You actually have to go back decades to find a presidency — Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950s to be precise — in which spending happened at a slower rate.
"Almost everyone believes that Obama has presided over a massive increase in federal spending, an "inferno" of spending that threatens our jobs, our businesses and our children's future. Even Democrats seem to think it's true.
"But it didn't happen. Although there was a big stimulus bill under Obama, federal spending is rising at the slowest pace since Dwight Eisenhower brought the Korean War to an end in the 1950s.
"Even hapless Herbert Hoover managed to increase spending more than Obama has."
Hoover happened to be president when Will Rogers, that great American humorist, was at the height of his popularity. It was Rogers who gave us a line that is no less true today then when he uttered it more than 75 years ago:
"It isn't what we don't know that gives us trouble. It's what we know that just ain't so."
I've asked the Romney campaign for a response to Nutting's piece and will update this post with same. Readers can decide whether or not the information is persuasive.
Updated on 5/23/12 @ 11:55 am --
A Romney campaign spokesperson has responded with a compilation of information that, she says, supports the Republican campaign's contention that Obama is responsible for a "spending binge.":
Here is an accurate account of President Obama's spending binge:
Candidate Obama Claimed $4 Trillion In New Debt Was "Unpatriotic" – But President Obama Has Added More Than $5 Trillion In New Debt:
Candidate Obama, On Adding $4 Trillion In Debt: "That's Irresponsible. It's Unpatriotic." OBAMA: "The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion for the first 42 presidents - #43 added $4 trillion by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back — $30,000 for every man, woman and child. That's irresponsible. It's unpatriotic." (Senator Barack Obama, Remarks, Fargo, ND, 7/3/08) ...
The Romney response continues with material that appears drawn from a news release on the Romney campaign website.