03 November 2009

The Right's Sudden Interest in Deficits

The Obama administration gets the honor of presiding over the biggest deficit in history. This year's deficit is an outrageous amount - $1.4 trillion, or about 10% of GDP. The right pretends to be sincerely outraged at this. They are not. The right could care less about deficits - as their re-election of dubya proves.

Obama inherited a deficit of $1 trillion and added to that another $400 billion to offset what looked to be the worst downturn since 29. Just a few years in, Bush had turned Clinton's last year surplus of $128 billion into a deficit of $377 billion - a reversal of about $500 billion. $400 billion in 2009 vs. $500 billion in 2003? If critics are outraged at Obama today, where were they in 2003?

If Bush had continued with Clinton's fiscally conservative budgets, continuing to run a surplus rather than chronic deficits, two things would have happened. One, the bubble would have been less pronounced. Might not have even happened. George Bush stimulated an already growing economy. It is no surprise that prices of equities and homes ballooned given his one-two punch of tax cuts and spending increases. Two, the government would have had much greater ability to stimulate the economy a year ago when GDP did drop. Imagine deficit spending from a position of surplus rather than huge deficit. How many more options would we have had? And the stimulus would not have been done with the constant worry of currency devaluation, or spending backfiring as government borrowing crowds out private borrowing.

So, next time someone you know starts in about how awful it is that Obama is running up such a huge deficit, just inquire, "Have you flip flopped on deficits? Wasn't a vote to re-elect Bush and Cheney affirmation of Dick's little quip that deficits don't matter? Now they do?"

1 comment:

Big Al said...

As you state, Obama has a much larger deficit than any other president because ~70% of it was inherited.

During GW's 1st six years in office, when adjusted for inflation, discretionary spending — or budget items that Congress and the president can control, including defense and domestic programs, but not entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare — shot up at an average annual rate of 5.3%. That exceeds the 4.6% annual rate during Johnson's '63-69 term. And Reagan had 1.9% growth during his time in office. Bush presided over massive increases in almost every category, and at that time the White House countered by noting that Bush took office as the country was heading into a recession, then reeled from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“This president had to overcome some things that required additional spending,” said Sean Kevelighan, a White House budget office spokesman. And remember, during GW's 1st six years the Republicans controlled the Congress.
Simply put: GW Bush NEVER refused a Republican budget placed before him. NEVER.