President Obama claims federal budget deficits have not soared out of control during his administration. He has officially jumped the shark.
On Wednesday at a Denver fundraiser, Mr. Obama said he was "running to pay down our debt in a way that's balanced and responsible." He claimed that "after inheriting a $1 trillion deficit, I signed $2 trillion of spending cuts into law" and that since he has been president, "federal spending has risen at the lowest pace in nearly 60 years. Think about that." It doesn't take much thought to see that this is the most absurd claim in political memory.
Mr. Obama is basing his boast on an already discredited study by journalist Rex Nutting that purported to show that "Obama has been the most fiscally moderate president we've had in 60 years." Among other fatal problems with the study is that it omits all spending that took place during the first nine months of the Obama administration, which were the last nine months of fiscal 2009. Thus, all of the initial spending programs to which the White House points with pride - particularly the failed nearly trillion-dollar economic stimulus program - are George W. Bush's responsibility so far as Mr. Nutting is concerned.
The "savings" Mr. Obama signed into law were all based on rosy economic projections, none of which has come true. The fiscal 2010 budget, fancifully titled "A New Era of Responsibility," projected a $1.2 trillion cut in the deficit to $533 billion by 2013. The fiscal 2012 budget, which had no hopeful title, raised this number to $768 billion. Mr. Obama's September 2011 deficit-reduction proposal further raised the projected 2013 deficit to $912 billion. The fiscal 2010 budget also hopefully projected 6.26 percent economic growth for 2012 rather than the anemic 1 percent to 2 percent growth the country is suffering. Naturally, Mr. Obama would much rather make reference to the imagined future his economists projected than to the grim reality he actually created.
Other simple metrics show the disastrous impact of Mr. Obama on the deficit. The 2009 budget deficit was three times that of 2008. The deficit as a percentage of gross domestic product went from 3.1 percent in 2008 to 9.9 percent in 2009. The deficit for the first month of fiscal 2010 was $176 billion, which was greater than the $161 billion deficit for all of 2007. In his first 986 days in office, up to Oct. 3, 2011, Mr. Obama oversaw a $4.2 trillion increase in the national debt, which was more than the debt accrued by all presidents from George Washington to George H.W. Bush combined.