Good grief

In possibly the most impressive display of political chutzpah ever, President Obama is actually claiming to be the most fiscally responsible president in decades:

This absurd claim adopts an asinine line of argument invented in a post on the MarketWatch web site. How do they make the most fiscally reckless administration in history out as the most responsible? They simply disregard Obama’s first year in office. No, worse than that, they charge the entire year to President Bush.

So Obama’s entire Brobdingnagian stimulus package (about $800 billion) gets charged to Bush. Then they use the stimulus (which, as “stimulus”, was supposed to be a one-time expenditure) as the baseline for future spending, and that just shows up as continuing the [must maintain straight face!] Bush spending levels. And even after all that, he still increases spending in later years.

There’s also TARP, which, at $750 billion, was still considered an astonishing amount in 2008. That’s legitimately a Bush outlay, but recall that TARP was a loan program and was supposed to be repaid. In fact, most banks did repay their TARP loans. But Democrats turned that money around and respent those repayments. Measured against the baseline, all that TARP re-spending doesn’t appear at all, whereas a sane accounting would credit the repayments to 2008 and charge the re-spending to the Democrats in 2009.

But wait, merely charging all of Obama’s reckless first-year spending to Bush still doesn’t get to their number! They also have to include the projected drop in spending in 2013, which obviously hasn’t happened and probably won’t.

Bottom line: Sure, Obama is the most fiscally responsible president in decades, provided you discount about $1.5 trillion in new annual spending, and also credit him for 2013 budget cuts that won’t happen.

POSTSCRIPT: Both Bush and Obama submitted 2009 budgets to Congress. The Congress, Democratic at the time, never acted on Bush’s budget, but it’s still instructive to compare them. Bush’s budget proposed to overspend revenue by 15%. Of course, the economy took a dive; if enacted it would actually have overspent revenue by 46%. Ouch. Then there’s Obama’s budget, which — as proposed — overspent revenue by a staggering 80%.

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