THE FACTS: The former Pennsylvania senator might have been mixing statistics on federal spending with federal revenue. The White House budget office has estimated that federal spending this year will equal about 25 percent of the country's $15 trillion economy — the highest proportion since World War II. But federal spending has averaged nearly 22 percent since 1970. In fact, federal spending has not been as low as 18 percent since 1966. Since the 1970s, federal revenues have averaged nearly 19 percent of the U.S. economy. This year's revenues are expected to equal just over 14 percent of the economy, the lowest level since 1950.
BACHMANN to PAWLENTY: "You said the era of small government was over. That sounds an awful lot like Barack Obama if you ask me."
THE FACTS: Pawlenty did not declare the era of small government over. (Neither has Obama.) Bachmann's jab was drawn from a Minnesota newspaper interview in which Pawlenty referred to a New York Times column on the subject, as part of his argument that "there are certain circumstances where you've got to have government put up the guardrails or bust up entrenched interests before they become too powerful." At the time, Pawlenty's office pushed for and received a clarification from the newspaper that he was relaying another writer's thoughts.
Associated Press writers Erica Werner and Alan Fram in Washington, Brian Bakst in St. Paul, Minn., and Philip Elliott in Ames, Iowa, contributed to this report.
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