February, 28th 2009

Hey, big spender!

– Liz Mair

Not that this wasn't expected (if you add the health care cost of $634 billion, this is certainly approaching estimates we were hearing for the new spending Obama had in mind during the campaign), but Obama's new budget is packed to the point of bursting with spending that looks wholly untenable and thoroughly irresponsible.  The Washington Post, tomorrow's edition, notes:

The White House budget request seeks to increase federal spending by at least $500 billion over the next decade, excluding the cost of health-care reform. While Obama would pay for that initiative as well his plan to lower taxes for the middle class by raising taxes on high earners and corporations as well as cutting federal health spending, his budget would not generate enough cash to finance the additional spending he seeks for routine government programs.

As a result, his plan would produce annual deficits far larger in dollar terms than any recorded before the recession. As a percentage of the overall economy, the budget gap is projected to settle down to a more manageable 3 percent by the end of Obama's term. But Washington would continue to borrow heavily, and the national debt would double over the next five years.

During 2006 and 2007 (i.e., before I took up employment with the RNC and shut down my blog), I routinely blasted the Bush administration in particular, and many, many other Republicans for profligate spending, jacking up the national debt, high deficits because spending restraint was not an option anyone was terribly concerned with, etc., etc.  I wish the GOP hadn't engaged in these things or promoted them-- really.

But let's get two things straight. 

1. Just because we sucked on this isn't an excuse for Democrats sucking even harder (it does not give them a pass for this kind of recklessness, and I don't care how any elected Democrats, talking heads or party mechanisms want to position themselves on this). 

2. Nor is it intellectualy honest to claim that Democrats weren't and aren't for even more outrageous spending than the GOP of the Bush years was, as is amply evident based on the above information. 

For a long time now, the Democratic party has not been the party of Bill Clinton, who actually gave a crap about the notion of spending restraint and balanced budgets (and yes, even if under duress from Republicans, tax cuts, like the capital gains tax cut set out in legislation he signed in 1997).  If it were, some of the people claiming that Obama should get a pass for his economic/fiscal proposals might have a leg to stand on.  Of course, it wouldn't be nearly as necessary for them to be defending their guy and claiming he should get a pass if what he were proposing were in fact even moderately fiscally conservative and even moderately fiscally responsible.  Based on current information, I don't believe there's any viable case to be made that it is. And the fact that the Post quotes a "senior Democratic aide" as saying "Folks are a little skittish. It's asking a lot... This is a tax-and-spend budget the likes of which we haven't seen in years" really hammers that point home, more than anything I can or will say is likely to.  Read the whole Post article.  It's worth it. [intro]


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