Who would have ever guessed that nearly four full years into his presidency, Barack Obama would still be talking about the mess he inherited. Yet here he is last Sunday on CBS’s 60 Minutes, responding to interviewer Steve Kroft’s observation that the national debt has risen 60% in the four years he’s been in office:
Well, first—first of all, Steve, I think it’s important to understand the context here. When I came into office, I inherited the biggest deficit in our history. And over the last four years, the deficit has gone up, but 90% of that is as a consequence of two wars that weren’t paid for, as a consequence of tax cuts that weren’t paid for, a prescription drug plan that was not paid for, and then the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Now we took some emergency actions, but that accounts for about 10% of this increase in the deficit, and we have actually seen the federal government grow at a slower pace than at any time since Dwight Eisenhower, in fact, substantially lower than the federal government grew under either Ronald Reagan or George Bush.
It’s a refreshing change to see the president accept any blame for the mess the next president will inherit from him in less than six weeks. Nevertheless, his remarks demonstrate that he is either lousy at math, a terrible liar, or both.
Consider: The national debt has risen $5 trillion under Obama’s stewardship. For him to claim responsibility for only 10% of that historical increase, he would have needed to add no more than $500 billion in new spending. Yet he crossed that threshold and then some in his first full month in office with the passage of his $800 billion-plus stimulus package.
A month later he passed a $410 billion omnibus spending package that even MSNBC described as including “8,000 pet projects” and “billions in earmarks like those he promised to curb in last year’s campaign.” That brings his cut of the new debt up to $1.2 billion, or 24%.
But the buck hasn’t finished moving. As a senator, Obama voted for the passage of the misguided TARP program, which was a driver of the debt he inherited. Then as president, he doubled down on companies that were too big to fail. George W. Bush may have started the fire, but Obama threw oil on it, taking what David Freddoso calls “full advantage of this unlimited political line of credit, [and using] TARP as a justification for limitless executive meddling in economic decisions best left to private stakeholders.”
Obama’s claim that he inherited “tax cuts that weren’t paid for” is also a joke missing its punch line. He seems to forget that his John Hancock appears on an agreement reached with the GOP in December of 2011 to extend the tax cuts, adding another $700 billion to the debt conflagration.
Yet, for all his myth-making and blame-shifting, Obama still leads in the polls by a margin of 4%. And what are his plans for turning around the economy if he is re-elected? He doesn’t have any short of looking toward the future as though the promise of a brighter “some day” will stimulate economic growth now. He is counting on the typical voter ignoring all this inconvenient reality. If Mitt Romney can’t open their eyes between now and Election Day, he and we are doomed to another four years.
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