Dems: Go into budget battle with Obama. Here's your ammo
With his speech in Ohio yesterday, President Obama marked a pivot point in the midterm elections and in his administration. The latter-day man from "hope" finally jumped feet-first into a debate over what to do to jumpstart the economy, reminding us of how we got into this mess and defending what he has done and is trying to do to get us out of it. As E.J. Dionne points out today, "Obama is late to this game, but at least he's finally playing it."
Obama's speech was a call-to-arms for the Democratic Party faithful. By attacking House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) by name, Obama has given his base and the American people a real person to focus on. And by reminding voters of the fiscal irresponsibility of Republican leadership before he took office, Obama is giving them a reason to doubt the GOP would be any different or better if it held the majority again.
One particular area that everyone is rightly worried about is the exploding federal deficit, which the president addressed yesterday.
And meanwhile, a failure to pay for two wars and two tax cuts for the wealthy helped turn a record surplus into a record deficit.....
Now, it's right to be concerned about the long-term deficit. If we don’t get a handle on it soon, it can endanger our future. And at a time when folks are tightening their belts at home, I understand why a lot of Americans feel it's time for government to show some discipline, too. But let's look at the facts. When these same Republicans -- including Mr. Boehner -- were in charge, the number of earmarks and pet projects went up, not down.
These same Republicans turned a record surplus into a record deficit. When I walked in, wrapped in a nice bow was a $1.3 trillion deficit sitting right there on my doorstep. (Laughter.) A welcoming present.
Some Republicans and other critics call that whining. That might be, but the fact remains, two wars and two tax cuts that weren't paid for continue to wreak havoc on the nation's finances. So, if Obama's speech was a call-to-arms to dispirited Democrats, here's the ammo they'll need to beat back the GOP counterattacks.
To back up the well-known and well-worn statement that the U.S. went from record surpluses to record deficits, a June 2004 report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has what you're looking for.
In January 2001, CBO projections showed surpluses over the ten-year period from 2002 through 2011 totaling $5 trillion.....Our current estimate of this same ten-year period shows cumulative deficits of $3.9 trillion, for a total deterioration of $8.8 trillion over the ten-year period 2002 to 2011....
What caused a projected surplus of $5 trillion to become a projected deficit of $3.9 trillion? Approximately 31 percent of this stunning $8.8 trillion deterioration is due to the tax cuts enacted over the past three years or assumed in this analysis, making tax cuts slightly more important than spending increases in explaining the shift from surpluses to deficits. Another 30 percent of the deterioration is due to spending legislation, with more than two-thirds of the growth in spending representing increased costs for defense, homeland security, and the war on terrorism....The remainder of the deterioration (the other 39 percent of it) stems from the view CBO now holds that the economic and technical underpinnings of its 2001 projection were too rosy.
Here's a chart from a 2008 CBPP report that shows the results if President Bush's proposed 2009 budget had actually included costs for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and relief from the Alternative Minimum Tax.
And if you're facing off with those who say Obama's policies are fueling future deficits, present them with this chart from a June 2010 report from CBPP.
The fiscal hole in which the United States finds itself is deep. But as Obama asked yesterday in Ohio, "Do we return to the same failed policies that ran our economy into a ditch, or do we keep moving forward with policies that are slowly pulling us out?" We'll find out on Nov. 2.
| September 9, 2010; 11:56 AM ET
Categories: Capehart | Tags: Jonathan Capehart
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