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2014 is the year American austerity came to an end

2014 is the year that austerity began to come to an end to the United States, with government spending accelerating sharply across the first three quarters of the year. This doesn't comport particularly well with anyone's political narratives, but it's there plain as day in the data on total government spending:

Government spending really surged in 2009 thanks to the federal stimulus bill. But starting in 2010, aspects of the stimulus started to fade out and budget cuts made in state and local government were pulling in the opposite direction. Then we had a three-year period in 2011, 2012, and 2013 when total spending in the United States was basically flat. You had state and local cutbacks, and then, just as state and local budgets were getting in better shape, you had sequestration cuts taking effect.

But now in 2014, government spending is surging again. Not back up to Bush-era levels, but up off the floor from the prime austerity level.

So what's going on here? Well even though sequestration is still in effect, there's no new sequestration cuts happenings. Meanwhile, the number of old people collecting Social Security and Medicare checks keeps steadily rising and thanks to Obamacare a bunch of people got signed up for Medicaid in 2014. Meanwhile, state and local budgets are generally improving.

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