AS congressional Republicans prepare for their seventh budget showdown with President Obama, The Washington Post reported the cumulative result of the six previous showdowns since 2010: The size of government is largely the same.
In 2010, the government spent $3.457 trillion, while this year it is on track to spend $3.455 trillion.
Wait, that's less.
Granted, it's not a lot less. But for decades, government spending has been like a runaway train - rising beginning in the 1960s, accelerating during the 2000s under President George W. Bush and then careening to unprecedented levels during the start of the Obama administration.
Now, finally, that runaway train has been slowed, stopped and put into reverse. In 2013, "spending is projected to be down by about 5 percent from 2010, accounting for inflation," The Post reported.
That is not an insignificant achievement.
To put it into perspective, consider what might have been: Barack Obama came into office determined to increase federal spending dramatically.
His first act was to pass the largest spending bill in the history of our country, the 2009 stimulus. He promised this surge in spending would be temporary, but in truth he intended to follow it up with a second stimulus, fueled by higher taxes.
And true to his profligate ways, each year he has proposed more spending than Congress has passed.
Had Democrats continued to control both houses of Congress, spending likely would still be
Instead, the tea party revolution of 2010 put the brakes on the spending train.
The GOP takeover of the House, and the influx of fiscal hawks, killed any chance of a new stimulus and gave rise to the Budget Control Act in exchange for a debt-limit increase.
House Republicans were able to use the threat of default to force a reluctant Obama to cut spending instead of increasing it.
Because of this oppositional dynamic, the cuts have been done badly.
The Budget Control Act used a blunt instrument - sequestration - to mandate automatic across-the-board spending cuts if political leaders could not agree on targeted reductions (which they could not).
The result: Sequestration left fat, while cutting muscle.