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Future Deficits Not Caused By Obama

November 15, 2012

Back in June, I analyzed the causes of the National Debt’s sharp increase between 2001 and 2011. I concluded that 12% of the increase was due to Obama’s policies, and the remaining 88% was caused by the policies of George W. Bush and the effects of two recessions.

The Center On Budget And Policy Priorities (CBPP) has recently performed an analysis for future deficits, with a similar finding.

The events and policies that pushed deficits to these high levels in the near term were, for the most part, not of President Obama’s making.  If not for the Bush tax cuts, the deficit-financed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the effects of the worst recession since the Great Depression (including the cost of policymakers’ actions to combat it), we would not be facing these huge deficits in the near term.  By themselves, in fact, the Bush tax cuts and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will account for almost half of the $18 trillion in debt that, under current policies, the nation will owe by 2019. The stimulus measures and financial rescues will account for less than 10 percent of the debt at that time.

As usual, a picture is worth a thousand words:

They also estimate that, going forward…

Just two policies dating from the Bush Administration — tax cuts and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — accounted for over $500 billion of the deficit in 2009 and will account for $6 trillion in deficits in 2009 through 2019, including the associated debt-service costs.  By 2019, we estimate that these two policies will account for almost half — nearly $9 trillion — of the $18 trillion in debt that will be owed under current policies.

4 Comments
    • I’ve never been impressed with the Washington Post’s “fact checking”. For example, instead of calculating the effects of Bush policies using the CBO’s estimates, they use work performed by Charles Blahous – who has worked for George W Bush, Alan Simpson and a number of Conservative Think Tanks.

      Here’s a simpler way to look at it. Under Clinton’s 8 years, spending went from $1.409T to $1.863T – an increase of 32.2%. Under Bush, spending went from $1.863T to $3.315T – an increase of 78%. Had Bush increased spending 32.2% like Clinton, spending in his final year would have been $2.463T. If Obama started with that lower number, we would have a surplus this year.

      • The WaPo fact checkers left out most of Obama’s spending in 2009 so the numbers are off. It wasn’t just WaPo, it was Politifacts, the AP, Factcheck.org and a few others who prove the “Bush is responsible for the record deficit under Obama” meme a myth.

        The CBO projected a surplus under Bush until the housing bubble and financial crisis struck. But the $1 trillion plus deficits sorta destroy the claim that it is Bush’s fault.

      • The $1T deficits started in FY2009 and were mostly due to the recession and policies that were already in place before Obama took office – which was 4 months into FY2009.

        I have yet to see anyone that isn’t a Republican ideologue accuse Obama of being responsible for most of the recent deficits. But I’ve seen plenty of reasonable conservatives put the responsibility for our big spending where it rightfully belongs – on Bush. Here are two from the (very conservative) Cato Institute:

        http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/dont-blame-obama-for-bushs-2009-deficit/

        http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/george-w-bush-biggest-spender-since-lbj/

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