I ask, because today, he said this:
Now, there are those who claim we have to choose between paying down our deficits on the one hand, and investing in job creation and economic growth on the other. This is a false choice. Ensuring that economic growth and job creation are strong and sustained is critical to ensuring that we are increasing revenues and decreasing spending on things like unemployment insurance so that our deficits will start coming down. At the same time, instilling confidence in our commitment to being fiscally prudent gives the private sector the confidence to make long-term investments in our people and in America.
So one of the central goals of this administration is restoring fiscal responsibility. Even as we have had to spend our way out of this recession in the near term, we've begun to make the hard choices necessary to get our country on a more stable fiscal footing in the long run. So let me just be clear here. Despite what some have claimed, the cost of the Recovery Act is only a very small part of our current budget imbalance. In reality, the deficit had been building dramatically over the previous eight years. We have a structural gap between the money going out and the money coming in.
Folks passed tax cuts and expansive entitlement programs without paying for any of it—even as health care costs kept rising, year after year. As a result, the deficit had reached $1.3 trillion when we walked into the White House. And I'd note: These budget-busting tax cuts and spending programs were approved by many of the same people who are now waxing political about fiscal responsibility, while opposing our efforts to reduce deficits by getting health care costs under control. It's a sight to see.
The fact is we have refused to go along with business as usual; we are taking responsibility for every dollar we spend. We've done what some said was impossible: preventing wasteful spending on outdated weapons systems that even the Pentagon said it didn't want. We've combed the budget, cutting waste and excess wherever we could. I'm still committed to halving the deficit we inherited by the end of my first term—cutting it in half. And I made clear from day one that I would not sign a health insurance reform bill if it raised the deficit by one dime—and neither the House, nor the Senate bill does. We've begun not only changing policies in Washington, we've also begun to change the culture in Washington.
I could spend all night throwing hyperlinks underneath some of those whoppers above, but for now check out Contributing Editor Veronique de Rugy's June economics column about how "Barack Obama's first budget promises 'fiscal responsibility'—and delivers the opposite."