Broken Promises (Part 2)

By: Dane Stier

This article is part of a three-part series preceding the 2012 Presidential Election.  Each article focuses on a particular promise Barack Obama made as a candidate in 2008 which has now been broken.  

Barack Obama addresses Congress, 2009

Four years ago, candidate Barack Obama found resounding support in his campaign against the high spending and deficits of George W. Bush’s presidency.  With Obama’s first term within a month of expiration, I found it surprising to hear that this is still part of his campaign.  But perhaps our nation’s massive debt is Bush’s fault.  We always have to consider every argument, so let’s take a closer look at the administration’s claims.

In 2001, when President Bush took office, the national debt stood at $5.9 trillion; the end of his second term witnessed a $10.03 trillion debt.  Although Obama and Biden have repeatedly claimed Bush and Republicans “doubled the national debt in eight years,” it did not double, but rather increased by ~$4 trillion (70%).

Now let’s look at Obama’s first term in office.  In four years alone, President Obama’s reckless spending has increased the debt by more than six trillion dollars.  In comparison to President Bush’s second term alone, which was undeniably more costly to taxpayers than the first, Obama increased the national debt three times more than Bush (the debt increased ~$2 trillion Bush’s second term).

If we predict Obama will spend just as much in a second term as in his first, then he will increase America’s debt by $12 trillion, which accounts for a 120% increase in the debt from the time he took office.  At that point each person will owe more than $70,000 at the time they are born, and will be more costly than a 5th year at Northwestern without financial aid.

So how do the deficits compare between Obama and Bush?  According to the White House’s website, Bush’s first year in office experienced a surplus.  Of course that was the only year of a surplus, as the other years held deficits from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  From 2002 to 2007, the average annual deficit was almost $300 billion.  The following year the economic crises and a series of bailouts and stimuli raised the deficit to almost $500 billion.

In 2009 Obama shocked the nation with a budget including a $1.4 trillion deficit, which has remained ~$1.3 trillion for the rest of his term.  This has been unprecedented.  His administration, however, continues to blame the Republicans and Bush for this massive deficit, saying the “budget they passed…last year guarantees…[we’re] going to have a trillion dollar debt this year…”.  Who is “they”?  Fact check:  Democrats controlled both houses of Congress in 2008.  (On the other hand, perhaps we should be thankful they even passed a budget, since the new trend is the opposite; it has been more than 1200 days since the Senate passed a budget.)

So why does this matter?  Who cares if Obama rampantly increased the debt?

You should.  In February of 2009, President Obama promised “to cut the deficit we inherited by half by the end of my first term in office”.  Instead, he tripled the deficit, and with a national debt of $16 trillion, it doesn’t take a genius to realize Obama broke his promise.

Why people continue to blame Bush and the Republicans for something that has been under the control of Democrats since before Obama took office is beyond me.  It’s nothing more than a political move to cover up the mistakes of the last four years.  It will only work if people follow Obama blindly.  I have faith that America is great because its people are smarter than that.

(The exception being Barbra Streisand, who thinks “Obama has been more fiscally conservative than any other president in recent history…”)

If President Obama is elected for another term, Biden’s “800 million billion” may be more of a budget plan than a Bidenism.  I’ll be voting for the opposite just in case.


Photo by Pete Souza

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