Obama v. Romney on the federal budget mess
In some political arguments, both sides are right. Consider the back-and-forth between the Barack Obama and Mitt Romney camps over the latest Congressional Budget Office forecast that the federal budget for the year ending Sept. 30 will have its fourth trillion-dollar deficit. Writes Eric Wasson in The Hill:
Romney has argued that Obama's $800 billion stimulus package of 2009, which raised the deficit to $1.4 trillion that year, and refusal to enact deep spending cuts in the years since has put a cloud of uncertainty over the economy.
Romney is right about that. Obama, and his Congress, have let spending as a percentage of GDP rise way above the historical trend, and debt pile up faster than in any other four years of peace. Because this is unsustainable, and because it will require large tax increases or spending cuts to remedy, it does put a cloud over the economy.
Now, here is Wasson again:
The Obama campaign has countered that the Bush administration turned Clinton-era budget surpluses into deficits by enacting unsustainable tax cuts for the wealthy and by launching the Iraq war without paying for it.
The tax cuts were for all brackets, not just for “the wealthy.” But the Bush tax cuts have increased the deficit by a lot, just as the Democrats said they would. The tax cuts were unwise, given what else the Congress did. One of those things was funding the our Asian wars through borrowing, which was irresponsible, just as the Obama people say (even as they continue to do it, themselves).
The Obama campaign also counters, Wasson writes, “that Obama inherited the worst financial crisis since the Depression, and without the stimulus, the jobs figures would be much worse.”
It’s true that Obama inherited a giant mess. The panic and collapse were not his fault. I’m not so sure about the claim that his stimulus saved jobs, at least in the long run. Probably unemployment would have been worse in 2009 without the stimulus, but it might be better today. The stimulus delayed some of the pain, but also, I think, prolonged the problem.
Achenblog by Joel Achenbach
Postman On Politics