August, 4th 2009

$1 Trillion More in Debt Since Obama Took Office

– Liz Mair

That's the headline from CBS' Mark Knoller, who notes this morning that:

On Inauguration Day, the Debt stood at $10.626 trillion. The latest posting from the Treasury Department shows that as of July 31st, the debt hit $11.669 trillion.

During the last administration, it took over 2 ½ years for the National Debt to increase a trillion dollars.

President Obama's commentary on this situation that sounds an awful lot like passing the buck to me:

"They basically handed me a bill for $1.3 trillion and said, 'Here, fix it,'" insisted the president last week at a Town Hall Meeting in Bristol, VA. "And now they're on TV saying, why haven't you fixed it yet -- in the middle of the greatest recession since the Great Depression."

Knoller also writes that "since Mr. Obama took office, Congress approved his $787-billion stimulus plan. In addition, the new Administration had reign over the second half of the $700-billion bank bailout program." 


This is a sad state of affairs, partly because of the riskiness of the US sustaining such high levels of debt, but also because of the intellectual dishonesty that seems to increasingly attach to the President as he makes protestations about spending cuts and his supposed acute awareness of our need to tighten our belts. 

Obama did indeed press for the stimulus, and he is, of course, presently pushing a health insurance reform package that looks set to be costly (at least if you believe CBO).  Even before assuming office (you know, back during the campaign), he was pushing for over $1 trillion in new spending, which is a good indicator that despite the current rhetoric about all of the new spending currently being proposed being in response to our current economic situation, the President would have pursued massive levels of new spending irrespective of the extent of any economic travails.  Let's be clear: This guy likes spending; he thinks it's the answer to most things; the tightening of belts is not an activity to which he has an instinctive inclination-- in fact, it's one he looks about as predisposed to pursuing with any seriousness as bungee jumping off the Key Bridge every Friday at 4PM naked would be to me. This is something people need to get to grips with, and soon-- especially, dare I say it, the Democratic Party. 

It's far to early to speculate about what the 2012 election will look like, in any precise terms, but I do think it's fair to say that Obama's stewardship of the US' fiscal house is starting to look pretty shoddy to a lot of voters (so says this Pew data anyway) and unless he gets his worst urges when it comes to money under control, that's a trend that probably will continue, and indeed worsen.  It's very hard to see at this point how debt and the deficit does not become a major liability for Obama in three years' time, with the bigger question mark remaining which Republican might be capable of successfully capitalizing on it (let alone actually bringing the national debt back under control).   [intro]




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