I have heard a lot of folks (including my own father – bless his Republican soul) blaming our current President as the cause of the huge increase in the deficit. And yes, the deficit has grown tremendously since Obama took office – but there is a reason. For right or wrong, the current administration passed a very large stimulus package to attempt to keep our economy from going over the cliff. Obama also passed an extension of the Bush tax cuts to prevent all of the middle class tax cuts to expire while we were in the deepest recession since the Great Depression. I don’t think this should be considered profligate spending – because it was very reasoned, purposeful spending. Now some economists disagree with whether this was the right thing to do, but that does not mean that the spending was done without thought or intention.
In any event, I found out quite a lot about the cause of the $8.5T increase in the deficit from approximately $5.8T in 2001 to approximately $14.3T today. An article in this morning’s Chicago Sun-Times (http://www.suntimes.com/news/6706593-418/how-did-we-get-here-a-debt-crisis-qa.html ) outlines specific causes of $6T out of the $8.5T increase. I have broken that $6T down between George W Bush and Obama as follows:
1. 2001 & 2003 tax cuts: $1.6T
2. Additional interest over that period $1.4T (so let’s give W at least $1T of this)
3. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan $1.3T
4. Medicare prescription drug program $300B
5. 2008 financial corporation bailout $200B
6. Lower tax revenues due to the great recession which began in 2007 to date: hundreds of billions
1. Economic stimulus package 2008: $800B
2. Balance of additional interest per above $400B
3. 2010 tax cut compromise with the Republicans that extended unemployment & payroll tax temp reduction $400B
So let’s do the math on the dollars they identified:
George W – $4.4T
Obama – $1.6T
Even if every single unlisted dollar was due to the current administration (which is an unrealistic assumption), it would still show that more of the deficit was caused by George W. So, if you hear anyone say “the damage was done by nancy(sic), Harry and Obama” – as someone commented in the WSJ today – make them “show you the money”. Er, at least, show you the figures. It is great to hear people run down the current administration as ‘tax and spend’. Unfortunately, the previous administration was just ‘spend’.
It’s been quite awhile since you’ve heard from me – and I apologize for that.
I could tell you that I’ve been on vacation, that I’ve been very busy with work and family, and that I’ve been meeting with various folks all summer. While that is all true, the fact is that events in the Middle East (and perhaps even more so, here with domestic politics) have left me both depressed and dumbfounded. As many have said, we seem to be on the way to a “train wreck” in the Middle East, and I feel like it’s an extremely excruciating one. Kind of like watching that fantastic scene from “The Fugitive” (the movie, not the TV series) where they are transporting Harrison Ford downstate by bus, a fight ensues and the bus goes over a railing and ends up straddling some train tracks with a huge freight train barreling down on it. There is a tremendous crash which allows him to escape into the woods. The train crash is shown in intimate detail, from several different angles, and as the engine caroms off the track, we see dirt and metal and wood flying all over the place as the train’s inertia keeps tearing through the underbrush.* All of the time, Harrison Ford is trying to hop away with his arms and legs shackled. Pretty good analogy for what is happening in the Middle East from all sides – the Palestinians, the Israelis, us and the Europeans – trying to avoid the fallout from the prospective UN vote. Oy!
And unfortunately, that ain’t the only thing going on. Here is my current rundown of agita producing events:
- Upcoming September vote in the UN where the Palestinians will be seeking recognition as a State
- The erstwhile flotilla and fly-tilla of “humanitarian” aid headed for Gaza
- The recent passing in the Knesset of an “anti-boycott law” wherein anyone who supports a boycott of Israeli products, services etc. can be sued for both actual and potential(!) damages.
- As always, new announcements of continued settlement activity.
- The Republicans refusal to compromise on a balanced package to raise the debt ceiling.
- The Republicans ability to lie with a straight face – and have the public not able to see it. We had 8 years of the “no tax increase” policy under Bush and it destroyed the economy. (However, it did result in the largest transfer of wealth to the top 1% of the country in history. And I thought that the Republicans were against redistribution of wealth?)
- The Democrats inability to come up with virtually any effective messaging. If I hear the “corporate jet-owners” and “big oil companies” one more time I’ll puke – it just isn’t working.
- Obama’s refusal to get mad as hell – and call out the Republicans. (He’s starting to, but it is a case of too little too late.)
- I have hardly heard one commentator speculate that the Republicans actually have no interest in raising the debt ceiling because if the economy melts down, so do Obama’s chances of reelection. I hate to be so cynical, but it appears that the Republicans have no qualms about the doomsday option because they will be able to blame the disaster on Obama and the “unreasonable” Senate Democrats who refused to bring their Cap and Trade (oops, Cut, Cap and Balance) bill to the floor. And those same Senate Democrats who wouldn’t bring their own budget bill to the floor. (Of course, they forget to inform the American public the minor detail that the way our forefathers set up the Constitution, budget bills can only be originated from the House.)
OK, so I am going to try to overcome my doldrums and begin explaining why I am so upset by some of these issues – and you should be to. But my next post will actually be about some very positive news – the current tour of several extremely prominent Israeli military and political figures who have come to the U.S. to discuss their assessment of the urgency of coming to a two-state agreement as the only way to assure Israel’s security. They are here to discuss the Israel Peace Initiative and the activities of the Council for Peace and Security in Israel.
*By the way, that was a REAL train crash in The Fugitive that they set up and filmed – however, I would guess that Harrison Ford wasn’t actually running from it! Check out the aftermath 18 years later: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFGNkkWf4_M&feature=related