A week or so ago, an online liberal floated the absurd proposition that Barack Obama has been a fiscal conservative. He claimed that Obama has presided over the second-slowest increase in federal spending in recent history. Given that the Obama administration has run up $5 trillion in new debt while spending vastly more than any administration in history, how was this feat of legerdemain performed? We explained it here and here.
Briefly, the claim depends on attributing all of FY 2009 spending to the Bush administration. FY 2009 represented the biggest increase in federal spending in history, by a very wide margin, and Bush had little or nothing to do with it. That was the year of the stimulus, and the Democratic Congress assiduously avoided passing a budget until Obama had been sworn in, in January 2009. Obama and the Democrats own FY 2009 spending lock, stock and barrel. The remarkable thing is that even though “stimulus” spending is over, the Democrats haven’t cut overall spending at all, but rather have increased it even further from the astronomical FY 2009 level. The attempt to paint Obama as a fiscal conservative was so transparently stupid that even the Washington Post and the Associated Press denounced it.
But that hasn’t stopped Obama himself from going back to the well. Today he said, at a New York fundraiser with Bill Clinton:
Even when it comes to their big issue, the deficit and the debt, as President Clinton just mentioned, you know, the truth is that the two presidents over the last 30 years, 40 years, who had the lowest increases in government spending, you are looking at them right here. They’re on this stage.
Forget for the moment how utterly dishonest this is, and how sad that Obama continues repeating the lie even when his own most loyal supporters in the media have deserted him. What I want to focus on here is how pathetic it is that Obama is now reduced to posing as a fiscal conservative. Did Obama run in 2008 on a platform of restraining federal spending? Of course not. He represents the left wing of the Democratic Party, whose main objective is increased federal spending. To the extent that he has influenced legislation, has it ever had the purpose of limiting federal spending? Don’t be ridiculous! His signature legislative “achievements,” the stimulus and Obamacare, entailed billions of dollars in new federal appropriations. Has he ever even proposed to limit spending in any meaningful way? No. On the contrary, his budgets have been so flamboyantly profligate that in the last two years, not a single Senator or Congressman has been willing to vote for them. Obama has never been, or tried to be, anything but a far-left spendthrift. So the fact that he now is reduced to posing as a green-eyeshade cost-cutter is simply pathetic.
The same thing has happened in foreign policy. Obama ran as a classic foreign policy leftist, skeptical of his own country’s history and interests. He denounced “torture,” a reference to the three hard-core terrorists who had been waterboarded years earlier, and vowed to close Guantanamo Bay. He thought he could influence the Muslim world by virtue of his middle name and his Indonesian boyhood. All of that is now ancient history. Obama’s proudest boast, as he runs for re-election, is that he didn’t prohibit the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Recently, the White House has leaked the claim that Obama himself chooses the terrorists to be killed by Predator missiles. In the 1960s, when the press reported that Lyndon Johnson was personally selecting bombing targets in Vietnam, it was one more nail in Johnson’s political coffin. Today, Barack Obama, having completely failed to achieve anything he intended when he took office, is so desperate that he has nothing better to offer: he presents himself as not just a skinflint, but a bloodthirsty one. It is, as I say, a pathetic legacy.