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One Thing Romney and Obama Agree On: Big Government

Governor Mitt Romney smiles at a supportive crowd in Zanesville, Ohio
Governor Mitt Romney smiles at a supportive crowd in Zanesville, OhioPhotograph by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images

“We need to stop spending money we don’t have,” said Paul Ryan at the Iowa State Fair on Monday. “President Obama has given us four years of trillion dollar-plus deficits. He is making matters worse, and he is spending our children into a diminished future.”

It’s a slippery word, “spending.” As Paul Ryan understands it—as do almost all of the Republicans in office—”spending” means writing a check. The federal government takes in money through taxes, then spends it on programs. This makes intuitive sense. It’s also wrong.