Over at AOL News, John Merline asks who the hell is responsible for the budget deficits that stretch out before us in the 21st century like an infinitely stretch of bad road. Based on Congressional Budget Office projections, his answer:
The CBO now expects revenues to be $2.2 trillion lower over the next eight years than it did under Bush's budget—despite the fact that Obama's budget raises taxes on the rich. To the extent that Bush's economic policies caused that recession and its long-term revenue effects, he takes the blame for the falloff in federal tax receipts.
But what really stands out when you make this comparison is the fact that Obama's budget dramatically ratchets up long-term spending….
Between 2011 and 2018, Obama would spend $4.9 trillion more than Bush had planned to. Keep in mind that all this extra spending is after the economic stimulus has been almost entirely exhausted.
In other words, if Obama had simply kept Bush's spending policies in place, federal deficits over the next eight years would be 60 percent lower. In 2018, we'd have a deficit of just $188 billion, instead of the projected $996 billion under Obama's budget.
There are reasons to quibble with CBO estimates (read about them here), but in the main the point is solid and non-controversial: Spending more typically leads to bigger deficits because pols tend to undercount costs and overcount revenue. Here are Obama's own original projections from his first budget, ironically titled "A New Era of Responsibility":
OK, OK, I know what you're saying: Any idiot can get us into this sort mess. George Bush did. Barack Obama did. Who can get us out of this mess?
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