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The Big Fail - The Year In Review: Spending, Deficits, Debt

- December 20, 2011

Obama Ducks And Dodges Fiscal Issues, Adds Another $1.1 Trillion To The Debt, And Downgrades America’s Credit Rating For The First Time

During 2011, Obama Added $1.1 Trillion To The Debt, Pushing The National Debt Over The $15 Trillion Mark For The First Time. (U.S. Department Of The Treasury, Treasury Direct, Accessed 12/19/11)

OBAMA ABANDONED HIS COMMITMENT TO CUT THE DEFICIT IN HALF

PROMISE: In 2009, Obama Pledged To Cut The Deficit In Half By The End Of His First Term. OBAMA: “And that's why today I'm pledging to cut the deficit we inherited by half by the end of my first term in office.” (President Barack Obama, Remarks At The Fiscal Responsibility Summit, Washington, D.C., 2/23/09)

  • “President Barack Obama Plans To Cut The U.S. Budget Deficit To $533 Billion By The End Of His First Term …” (Hans Nichols, “Obama Plans To Reduce Budget Deficit To $533 Billion By 2013,” Bloomberg, 2/21/09)
  • One White House Official Told Politico “We’ll Cut It At Least In Half.” “Under White House projections, this year’s inherited budget deficit of $1.3 trillion will be cut to $533 billion by fiscal year 2013, the end of the first term. ‘So we’ll cut it at least in half,’ the official said.” (Mike Allen, “Obama Vows To Cut Huge Deficit In Half,”Politico, 2/22/09)

FAIL: Even If Every Part Of Obama’s Deficit Reduction Framework Were Enacted, The Deficit At The End Of His First Term Would Still Be $1.33 Trillion, Over Double What He Promised. (“The President’s Plan For Economic Growth And Deficit Reduction; Table S-3,” Office Of Management And Budget, 9/19/11)

  • Politifact: “Obama Made A Pledge To Cut The Deficit In Half By The End Of His First Term. And He’s Falling Short So Far.” (Gregory Trotter, “Tim Pawlenty Says President Obama Is Going To Break Promise On Deficit And Will Double It,” Politifact, 6/10/11)
  • Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner Said Even If Congress Enacted The President’s Budget “We Would Still Be Left With A Very Large Interest Burden And Unsustainable Obligations Over Time.” (Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Remarks Before Senate Budget Committee, Washington, D.C., 2/17/11)

Rather Than Live Up To His Promise, Obama Amassed His Third Straight Record Deficit

President Obama Has Racked Up The Three Largest Deficits In U.S. History. “The U.S budget deficit for fiscal year 2011 is $1.299 trillion, the second largest shortfall in history. The nation only ran a larger deficit for the 2009 fiscal year, which included the dramatic collapse of financial markets and a huge bailout effort by the government.”(Erik Wasson, “Treasury Announces 2011 Deficit Is Second Highest In History,” The Hill’s “On The Money”, 10/14/11)

  • FY2009: The Federal Budget Deficit Was $1.413 Trillion, The Highest In U.S. History. (“Monthly Budget Review: November 2011,” Congressional Budget Office, 11/7/11)
  • FY2011: The Federal Budget Deficit Was $1.299 Trillion, The Second Highest In U.S. History. (“Monthly Budget Review: November 2011,” Congressional Budget Office, 11/7/11)
  • FY2010: The Federal Budget Deficit Was $1.294 Trillion, The Third Highest In U.S. History. (“Monthly Budget Review: November 2011,” Congressional Budget Office, 11/7/11)

OBAMA AVOIDED CONFRONTING OUR NATION’S FISCAL CRISIS AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY

January: Obama Ignored The Recommendations Of His Fiscal Commission

Obama Promised That “Once The Bipartisan Fiscal Commission Finishes Its Work, I Will Spend The Next Year Making The Tough Choices Necessary To Further Reduce Our Deficit And Lower Our Debt.” (President Barack Obama, Remarks At The Cuyahoga Community College West Campus, Parma, OH, 9/8/10)

The Associated Press Fact Check: “Obama Has Yet To Sign On To Any Of The Ideas, Even Though He Promised When Creating The Panel That It Would Not Be ‘One Of Those Washington Gimmicks.’” (“AP Fact Check: Obama's Budget Goals Don't Add Up,” The Associated Press, 1/26/11)

  • President Obama’s Budget Did Not Opt For “The Bold, Comprehensive Approach To Reining In The Fast-Growing Federal Debt That His Own Fiscal Commission Has Said Is Needed, Now.” “With the budget he is to unveil Monday, President Obama has not opted for the bold, comprehensive approach to reining in the fast-growing federal debt that his own fiscal commission has said is needed, now.” (Jackie Calmes, "A Cautious Approach Seeking Bipartisan Appeal," The New York Times2/13/11)

“A Year After Appointing A Bipartisan Commission To Recommend Ways To Deal With The Debt, Obama Would Bypass Almost All Of Its Painful Prescriptions …” “A year after appointing a bipartisan commission to recommend ways to deal with the debt, Obama would bypass almost all of its painful prescriptions to cut huge benefit programs like Social Security and Medicare.” (“Obama's Proposed Budget: Some Cuts, But Not The Slashes Republicans Request,” The Associated Press, 2/14/11)

February: Obama’s Budget Was A “Political Document” That Ducked Tough Choices

Obama’s Budget Was “A Political Document By Someone That Wants To Win Re-Election.” "Obama's $3.7 trillion budget is an opening bid, as well as a political document by someone who wants to win re-election... Bottom line: Presidential budgets are more political documents than anything else, and this budget is by someone who wants to win re-election." (NBC News' " First Read," 2/14/11)

FAIL: The New York Times: "What Mr. Obama's Budget Is Most Definitely Not Is A Blueprint For Dealing With The Real Long-Term Problems That Feed The Budget Deficit..." (Editorial, "The Obama Budget," The New York Times, 2/14/11)

The Washington Post: “President Obama’s Budget Kicks The Hard Choices Further Down The Road.” (Editorial, “President Obama’s Budget Kicks The Hard Choices Further Down The Road,” The Washington Post, 2/15/11)

  • Given The Chance To Show Leadership With His Budget, Obama "Chose Instead To Duck" Behind "The Sort Of Budgetary Gimmicks He Once Derided." "Having been given the chance, the cover and the push by the fiscal commission he created to take bold steps to raise revenue and curb entitlement spending, President Obama, in his fiscal 2012 budget proposal, chose instead to duck. To duck, and to mask some of the ducking with the sort of budgetary gimmicks he once derided."  (Editorial, "President Obama's Budget Kicks The Hard Choices Further Down The Road," The Washington Post, 2/15/11)

April: Obama’s Budget Speech Steered Clear Of Entitlements And Was So Vague It Couldn’t Even Be Scored

The Washington Post: Obama’s Proposal “Falls Short Of Targets Set By His Deficit Commission And House Republicans.” “President Obama unveiled a framework Wednesday to reduce borrowing over the next 12 years by $4 trillion — a goal that falls short of targets set by his deficit commission and House Republicans — and called for a new congressional commission to help develop a plan to get there.” (“Breaking News Alert: Obama Unveils Plan To Reduce Borrowing By $4 Trillion Over The Next 12 Years,” The Washington Post, 4/13/11)

  • WaPo: Obama’s Latest Attempt At Fiscal Discipline “Steered Clear Of Fundamental Changes To Medicare, Medicaid And Social Security — The Primary Drivers Of Future Spending.” “In his most ambitious effort to claim the mantle of deficit cutter, Obama proposed sharp new cuts to domestic and military spending, and an overhaul of the tax code that would raise fresh revenue. But he steered clear of fundamental changes to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — the primary drivers of future spending.” (“Breaking News Alert: Obama Unveils Plan To Reduce Borrowing By $4 Trillion Over The Next 12 Years,” The Washington Post, 4/13/11)

After The CBO Totaled The Red Ink In Obama’s Budget, The President Choose To Replace It With A Speech In April Too Vague To Be Scored. “In February, President Obama submitted his budget. The CBO reported that it would steeply boost the national debt. In April, the president released a revised deficit-reduction plan so short on detail that the CBO deemed it too vague to evaluate.” (Editorial, “This Is Not A Poker Game,” The Post And Courier (Charleston, SC), 6/17/11)

  • Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf: “We Don’t Estimate Speeches.” (Committee On The Budget, U.S. House Hearing, 6/23/11)

August: The United States’ Credit Rating Was Downgraded For The First Time

Standard & Poor’s “Lowered The U.S. Credit Rating For The First Time, An Ignominious Legacy For Obama.” (George E. Condon Jr., “What A Week: Afghan Deaths, S&P, And Debt Limit Debate Challenge Obama,” National Journal, 8/6/11)

  • “The Downgrade, Hours After Markets Closed On Friday, Is A First For The United States Since It Was Granted An AAA Rating In 1917.” (Paul Wiseman, “US Downgrade Raises Anxiety, If Not Interest Rates,” The Associated Press, 8/6/11)

Presiding Over Loss Of Triple-A Bond Rating “Really Haunts The Administration.” “But what really haunts the administration is the very real prospect, stoked two weeks ago by Standard & Poor’s, that Barack Obama could go down in history as the president who presided over his country’s loss of its gold-plated, triple-A bond rating.” (Carrie Budoff Brown and Ben White, “U.S. Credit Downgrade Worries Obama, Congress More Than Default,” Politico, 7/27/11)

President Obama “Is Now Firmly Part Of The Landscape That S&P Trashed.” “But as he prepares to head out of town on Aug. 15, the bad news keeps piling up: new fears of a double-dip recession, a jumpy stock market and then Standard & Poor’s downgrade on Friday of the nation’s triple-A credit rating for the first time in history. S&P blamed Washington’s dysfunctional political culture for its move. Knocking Washington gridlock is a favorite topic of Obama’s as well, but he is now firmly part of the landscape that S&P trashed.” (Carrie Budoff Brown and Glenn Thrush, “Obama’s Bus Trip Could Hit Speedbumps,” Politico, 8/7/11)

Obama’s Downgrade Could “Push Interest Rates Higher And Further Unsettle The Economy.” “[T]he credit rating agency Standard & Poor's downgraded the United States' AAA credit rating for the first time in history, a move that could push interest rates higher and further unsettle the economy.” (Julie Pace, “Obama Pushes His Proposals For Job Growth,” The Associated Press, 8/6/11)

September: Obama’s Proposal To The Super Committee “Abdicated Leadership” And Caved To His Liberal Base

Dallas Morning News: Obama’s Proposal A Sign He Has “Abdicated Leadership.” “But this newspaper sees problems in his fine points, beginning with his almost total dodge on entitlement reforms. Obama identified only about $300 billion in Medicare and Medicaid savings. And not a single detail about overhauling Social Security. Washington can’t fix the $14 trillion debt problem without overhauling those programs, which are big debt drivers. The president knows all this and simply abdicated leadership.” (Editorial, “Editorial: Gang Of 38 Offers A Better Debt Approach,” The Dallas Morning News, 9/19/11)

  • “Suffering An Erosion Of Support From The Broad Coalition That Elected Him, Obama Has Crafted A Plan That Reads More Like A Blueprint For Shoring Up His Restless Democratic Base Than A Vehicle For Reaching Across The Aisle In Search Of Bipartisan Compromise.” (Carrie Budoff Brown and Jennifer Epstein, “Obama To Unveil $3T Deficit Plan,” Politico, 9/18/11)

“Responding To Pressure From Progressives, The President Will Not Seek An Increase In The Medicare Eligibility Age From 65 To 67, Stepping Back From A Controversial Idea He Endorsed During His Talks With Boehner.” “Responding to pressure from progressives, the president will not seek an increase in the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67, stepping back from a controversial idea he endorsed during his talks with Boehner. Obama had already signaled last week that he would not tackle Social Security in his plan, another shift away from his high-wire talks with Boehner.” (Carrie Budoff Brown and Jennifer Epstein, “Obama To Unveil $3T Deficit Plan,” Politico, 9/18/11)

  • USA Today: Obama’s Failure To Tackle Entitlement Programs Was “Irresponsible.” “That's mostly because Obama failed to take on the entitlement programs, by far the biggest drivers of future spending. Thanks to a weak economy, Baby Boomer retirees and payroll tax cuts, Social Security is already running in the red. Congressional Budget Office projections show it will add a half trillion dollars to the debt over the next decade, making Obama's refusal to tackle it now irresponsible.” (Editorial, “Editorial: Politics Takes Priority In Obama’s Deficit Plan,” USA Today, 9/19/11)

November: Obama “Sat Happily On The End Of The Bench” And Let The Super Committee Fail

Obama “Sat Happily On The End Of The Bench As The Clock Ran Out On The Super Committee.” “President Barack Obama prides himself on being a clutch player, but he sat happily on the end of the bench as the clock ran out on the supercommittee. Then he took his shot after the buzzer.” (Carrie Budoff Brown and Glenn Thrush, “Obama’s Rule Of Engagement,” Politico, 11/22/11)

  • “Obama Has Done Nothing To Encourage A Deal.” “Obama has done nothing to encourage a deal. Indeed, from the beginning, after he agreed to accept the super committee formula in exchange for raising the debt ceiling, he has kept his hands clean.” (Marc Ambinder, “Obama Relishes Tax-Hike Contrast,” National Journal, 11/21/11)

The Economist: “Barack Obama Remained Damagingly Aloof Throughout The Supercommittee’s Fruitless Deliberations.” “Second, the past few months have confirmed even more strongly the near-irrelevance of the president. A Ronald Reagan or a Bill Clinton would have been much more effectively engaged in twisting arms and, where necessary, dispensing favours. Barack Obama remained damagingly aloof throughout the supercommittee’s fruitless deliberations. This should not have been surprising, given his lamentable failure a year ago to endorse the effective and brave conclusions of the Bowles-Simpson deficit commission that he personally appointed. But it does not bode well for the future—assuming that he has one, and is not turfed out of office in a year’s time.” (Editorial, “A Downgrade For Congress,” The Economist, 11/26/11)


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