I wrote last night about President Obama’s FY 2013 budget, which, accounting frauds to one side, is another dreary blueprint for more taxes, spending and debt. In last night’s post, I noted that hardly anyone ever digs out old budget proposals and compares them to the current version. I have now had time to do that, and the results are revealing. In fact, the comparison sums up, in dry columns of numbers, the failure of the Obama administration.
When the story of the Obama administration is written, I think that what will strike historians most forcibly is the arrogance of the president and his aides. That arrogance was on display in Obama’s first budget proposal, for FY 2010. That document, was not merely a budget blueprint, it was a mean-spirited political rant. Obama gave his FY 2010 budget proposal a title: “A New Era of Responsibility.” It began with a section titled “Inheriting a Legacy of Misplaced Priorities,” which was an intemperate attack on the Bush administration:
This is the legacy that we inherit–a legacy of mismanagement and misplaced priorities, of missed opportunities and of deep, structural problems ignored for too long. It’s a legacy of irresponsibility, and it is our duty to change it.
Obama’s indictment of the Bush administration highlighted budget deficits, which Obama vowed to reduce:
Another manifestation of irresponsibility is the large budget deficits we are inheriting. These deficits, over time, will harm economic growth and impose burdens on our children and grandchildren. … Between 2000 and 2008, real Government outlays increased at a 3.6 percent annual average rate, three times the 1.2 percent annual average rate between 1992 and 2000.
For FY 2013, Obama proposes to spend $3.856 trillion, $873 billion–29%–more than the last year of pre-recession spending by the Democratic Congress, FY 2008.
[T]he amount of debt held by the public has nearly doubled to $6.4 trillion from 2001 to 2008. We are now living with the fallout of this deep fiscal irresponsibility.
In hindsight, the “deep fiscal irresponsibility” of the Bush administration (and, of course, the Democratic Congress that was elected in 2006) looks like a golden age. After three years of Obama’s presidency, the debt held by the public has almost doubled, and stands at $11.6 trillion as of FY 2012.
[A]s we come out of this recession, we must return to the path of fiscal responsibility. It will mean tough choices–choices that are tougher because of the legacy of fiscal irresponsibility left to us. …
While the Recovery Act has entailed increasing deficit spending–since that is the fastest and surest way to create jobs in a recession–we cannot see this as a new norm. … So while this Budget will add to our national deficit in the short-term, the President is committed to cutting in half by the end of his first term in office the deficit he inherited on January 20, 2009.
Of course, that hasn’t happened. The deficit for FY 2009 came in at $1.4 trillion. In the current fiscal year, 2012, the Obama administration now estimates that the deficit will be virtually the same, $1.327 trillion.
Perhaps the simplest way to demonstrate the failure of the Obama administration is to place side by side the summary budget tables from the administration’s FY 2010 and FY 2013 budget proposals. Here is FY 2010; click to enlarge:
And here is the corresponding summary of the FY 2013 budget proposal that was released yesterday:
These dry numbers tell the sad story of the Obama administration’s comprehensive failure. In 2009, Obama told the American people that in FY 2012, the federal government would spend $3.662 trillion and run a $581 billion deficit. Yesterday, the administration admitted that FY 2012 spending would be $3.796 trillion and the deficit will be $1.327 trillion–well over twice what Obama’s original budget projected. Likewise, President Obama’s FY 2013 budget projects a $901 billion deficit–a wildly optimistic number–nearly double the $533 billion deficit that Obama projected in his FY 2010 budget.
Obama’s FY 2010 budget proposal accused the Bush administration of “deep fiscal irresponsibility” because at that time, federal debt held by the public added up to $6.4 trillion. As noted above, the FY 2013 budget acknowledges that it has now skyrocketed to $11.6 trillion. But look where it goes from there: under Obama’s own projections, it rises to $19.486 trillion by 2022. If $6.4 trillion is proof of “deep fiscal irresponsibility,” then what should we call $19.486 trillion?
The government’s finances have collapsed under the Obama administration partly because of a lack of spending restraint, and partly because Obama’s policies have stunted economic growth. In his FY 2010 budget, Obama confidently predicted that his stimulus bill would get the economy moving again. In fact, the supposed stimulus achieved nothing, and Obama’s expensive-energy and anti-growth policies have held down gross domestic product.
As a result, while Obama’s FY 2010 budget forecast that in FY 2012 the GDP would be $16.470 trillion, his current budget admits that the FY 2012 will be only $15.602 trillion–a $1.132 trillion shortfall that is attributable mostly to Obama’s failed policies. You can see a similar shortfall in future years. Thus, the current budget forecasts FY 2013 GDP at $16.335 trillion, compared to $17.498 trillion in the FY 2010 budget–another $1.163 trillion in missing wealth.
You might think that three years of failure would at least cure the Obama administration of its arrogance, but you would be wrong. The FY 2013 budget is every bit as bitter a partisan document as its FY 2010 counterpart. Going on four years into his retirement, George W. Bush is still to blame for all of Obama’s shortcomings–along with the Republican Congress, of course. While never acknowledging that his past projections have proven wildly inaccurate, Obama implicitly defends himself by claiming that “When the President took office the economy was in free-fall. … [T]he decline we were in was deeper than anyone, at the time, knew.” Of course, Obama knew how deep the decline was by 2010 and 2011, but the fiscal performance he promised in those years didn’t pan out, either.
Repeatedly, Obama blames the rascally Republicans in Congress for his administration’s failures:
In addition, the willingness of Republicans in Congress to risk the first default in our Nation’s history over the statutory debt ceiling and the subsequent downgrade by Standard & Poor’s…
Unfortunately, at each step, partisan divides and unwillingness by Republicans in Congress to ask the wealthiest among us to pay their fair share through any revenue increase prevented a comprehensive deficit reduction agreement or measures in the AJA to boost demand from being enacted.
Of course, Obama can’t blame Republicans for the fact that the United States has not had a budget for three years, or for the fact that his last year’s budget never became law. It was so out of touch with reality that not a single Democrat voted for it in the Senate; it was rejected 97-0.
At the end of the message to Congress that prefaces the FY 2013 budget, Obama wrote:
But in the end, building an economy that works for everyone will require all of us to take responsibility. Parents will need to take greater responsibility for their children’s education. Homeowners will have to take more responsibility when it comes to buying a house or taking out a loan. Businesses will have to take responsibility for doing right by their workers and our country.
But there is one man who never takes responsibility for anything. His name is Barack Obama.