J. D. Heyes
Aug 31, 2012
As a presidential candidate in 2008, Sen. Barack Obama characterized outgoing-President George W. Bush as “unpatriotic” for adding $4 trillion to the national debt during his eight-year tenure.
In a campaign speech to supporters July 3, Obama said:
“The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion for the first 42 presidents – number 43 added $4 trillion by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back – $30,000 for every man, woman and child. That’s irresponsible. It’s unpatriotic.”
“Hope” and “change” were Obama’s campaign themes, not “more of the same.” It won him the White House.
What a difference four years make.
To be sure, $4 trillion is a lot of debt, and the president, as a candidate, was right to point out the obvious – if the current generation of voters and lawmakers fail to do the responsible thing and begin working together to pay it off, we will saddle our children with it, and sentence them – and their children – to a life of less freedom and fewer opportunities.
It’s just too bad he didn’t take his own rhetoric to heart.
Hypocrisy, sure, but that’s beside the point
Under Obama’s watch, the U.S. has added nearly $5 trillion in new debt over the course of about three-and-a-half years – a single term – while Bush’s debt was spread out over two terms, making Obama’s the largest accumulation of new debt over the shortest amount of time in the history of the country. Moreover, this year’s budget adds another $1.1 trillion, making it the fourth year in a row the government has run a $1 trillion-plus deficit.
The strategy from the White House and Democratic talking heads has been to dodge responsibility and lay all of it at Bush’s feet, arguing that the recession they inherited was “worse than we thought.” But the recession, we are told, ended in 2009, and Obama’s efforts since to restart the country’s economic engine have fallen flat; his stimulus packages and other economic incentives have not only failed to substantially reduce the unemployment rate, but they have also done virtually nothing to stimulate economic growth, which remains anemic at two percent a year or less. The little growth that has occurred in the economy has literally come in spite of Obama.
What’s more, the president has “owned” three of the last four fiscal years, making his policies, not Bush’s, the driving factor behind the debt increases which have occurred on his watch. If Bush has to own up, Obama has to own up.
So, does that make him “unpatriotic” as well?
Honestly, who cares? The characterization was political theater when Obama said it, and it’s political theater now.
Time is literally running out
The point is we have a debt problem, ladies and gentlemen of Congress, and it is imperative, regardless of which party you belong to, that you solve the problem and stop adding to it.
That will require reviving the lost art of statesmanship and putting the country before your own political careers.
Reducing the dialogue to pointless and inane trivialities will not address what is coming: $16 trillion in overall debt by Election Day, maybe another $5 trillion by 2016 if nothing changes, thereby creating, according to the Congressional Budget Office, a fiscal situation that is simply not sustainable.
“The key issue facing policymakers is not whether to reduce budget deficits,” says Doug Elmendorf, director of the CBO. “The question is when. The question is how.”
Options are few, he says, and none of them are going to be palatable, either to the politicians who must come together and decide on a course of action or to a sizable and growing portion of the American public , whom many of those same lawmakers have turned into a dependency class in order to buy their votes.
“Now, Congress and Mr. Obama are grappling with 2013 and beyond, and CBO said their options range from immediate belt-tightening and a double-dip recession that clears the economic and fiscal air, to continuing to pump money into the economy and delay, but likely worsen, an eventual reckoning,” The Washington Times reported.
Our “leaders” have painted the nation into an economic corner, Elmendorf notes.
“At some point, we will need to adopt policies that require people to pay significantly more in taxes, accept substantially less in government benefits and services, or both,” he said.
And with each new deficit, the problem grows larger, while the options fewer.
The debt clock is ticking. Like a time bomb.
This article was posted: Friday, August 31, 2012 at 2:25 am