04 October 2012

Does This Recession Make My Deficit Look Big?

Last night Romney made a number of statements that Obama seemed to ignore. For instance, he clarified that his tax plan will lower taxes but not actually lower revenue. That alone is worth questioning because if he's done it, he's done the political equivalent of creating the perpetual motion machine. "People pay lower taxes on this end and exactly the same revenue comes out on the other end!"

The comment he made about the deficits of the last four years seemed to offer Obama the easiest pitch to hit, but it wasn't that Obama whiffed at the pitch. Instead, he didn't even swing at it.

Romney criticized Obama for the size of the deficits since he took office, asking why he had done nothing to implement some variant of the Bowles-Simpson Deficit Reduction Plan during his 4 years. I've heard this criticism before and while I share concern at the size of the deficit I never understand the criticism. Romney provided Obama with the perfect opportunity for all of us to better understand what he would have done differently and how silly is the criticism.

[verbatim transcript]

MR. ROMNEY: I have my own plan. It’s not the same as Simpson- Bowles. But in my view, the president should have grabbed it. If you wanted to make some adjustments to it, take it, go to Congress, fight for it.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: That’s what we’ve done, made some adjustments to it; and we’re putting it forward before Congress right now, a $4 trillion plan, (a balanced ?) --
MR. ROMNEY: But you’ve been -- but you’ve been president four years. You’ve been president four years. You said you’d cut the deficit in half. It’s now four years later. We still have trillion- dollar deficits.
[blog author's snappy comeback, delivered just 16 hours later]
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I understand that you're unhappy about the size of the deficit. So am I. What I don't understand is what you would have done to make it lower. I'm curious. Had you won the primary in 2008 and then the general election, beaten John McCain and then me to become president, what would you have done differently so that there would have been no deficit?
Would you have raised taxes in the midst of the worst recession in nearly a century? Or maybe slashed government spending by hundreds of billions to leave millions of unemployed and retired without benefits and laid off government workers and government contractors when unemployment was already in the double-digits?
Or would your deficit reduction plan just depend on not having a recession? Because if so, that's something I guess I should have considered.

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