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Right Wing Expectations

October 13th, 2013

Bill Maher had Carol Roth on his show, yet another of the long line of conservatives calling themselves “independents,” talking deficit reduction we somehow never heard when Bush was in office. One of her points was about how Obama has raised the debt by “6 trillion dollars over the last four and a half years,” and despair that we have to raise the debt ceiling at all.

First of all, the $6 trillion number only comes from adding the full spending for 2009—which was George W. Bush’s budget, not Obama’s. And what Obama did spend over that was expressly to deal with the massive economic catastrophe Obama inherited on day one.

That’s a favorite ruse conservatives love to play: conflate the tail end of Bush with Obama’s own record, as in “Obama gave us a $1.4 trillion deficit,” or “Obama drove the unemployment rate up to 10%.”

A less contrived total deficit would be $4.7 trillion over five years. So, where did that come from? Did Obama just say, hey, let’s generate $4.7 trillion dollars in spending that wasn’t there before?

Of course not. Almost all of the debt under Obama has been from the money that, again, George W. Bush and Republicans in Congress committed us to. The Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And then there was the damage caused by the fiscal cataclysm Bush handed Obama in early 2009.

The fact is, Obama has done almost nothing but cut the deficit since he came into office:

Year Deficit in
$ Billions
$ Change
in Billions
2009 1,413   —
2010 1,294 -119
2011 1,300 +6
2012 1,087 -213
2013 973 -114

But that’s not good enough for Roth; she was appalled that Obama’s spending was still raising the debt ceiling at all: “[The debt ceiling is] going up because the government overspends, because they refuse to balance the budget…. If they didn’t overspend, we wouldn’t be hitting the debt ceiling.”

So, what was Obama supposed to do, cut $1.4 trillion dollars in one year? To wipe that out in even five years would require raising revenue and/or cutting the budget by $282 billion per year, every year. Something unprecedented, save possibly for coming off of wartime spending at the end of WWII.

When Bush was in office, most of that time being when Republicans also controlled both houses of Congress, deficit spending went up more often than it came down (up 5 years, down three years). When it went up the first two years of Bush’s budgets, it went up by huge amounts: $286 billion and $220 billion.

The three years the deficit went down under Bush, it went down by $94, $70, and $87 billion dollars, an average of $84 billion a year—something conservatives at the time hailed as little short of genius. Under Bush overall, the deficit increased $192 billion a year—and we did not hear conservatives complaining even a tenth as much as they do now.

Under Obama, the deficit has fallen an average of $110 billion per year.

Even under Bill Clinton, while he was creating a surplus, it went down only $70 billion a year.

So, what exactly do conservatives expect from Obama, when they themselves are entirely mute on where this money should be cut? Of course, we know where they want to cut it: Social Security and Medicare, the exact programs they claim they want to “save.”

We know where Republicans do not want to cut it: from the military, where almost all of the waste and overspending exists. In fact, they want to increase our ludicrously high military spending. They not only want to stay in Iraq and Afghanistan, they want to start a new war in Iran—and wanted to invade Syria, at least until Obama said he’d take action there.

And we know where Republicans do not want to raise revenue: from millionaires and billionaires, and from corporations making tens of billions in profit every year with many of them paying no taxes at all on those profits.

So when a conservative whines about how Obama is spending us into oblivion? I would suggest trying to speak facts to them, but they would almost certainly not listen, and would instead probably spout the same utter bullshit like Roth was on Maher’s show.

  1. Troy
    October 13th, 2013 at 09:41 | #1

    The 2001-2003 cuts reduced taxes for everyone, and they politically cleverly front-loaded the cuts to start with the lower quintiles first with the rest to phase-in over the decade.

    Then in 2003 for “stimulus” measures the back-end was brought forward. It was these cuts that were the true cuts for the wealthy.

    But the whole economy — well housing sector at least — benefitted from those cuts.

    People were able to borrow $100B/yr thanks to the rising home values, but as this price escalation went from recovery to boom to bubble the entire economy became overheated. This allowed the Bush deficits to actually get smaller, but it was all a Potemkin Village since we were literally borrowing our way to prosperity, just like the Japanese were doing in the 1980s, but probably a lot worse in scale since this bubble money was flowing to tens of millions of everyday households.

    As for the revenue side, yeah, let’s raise that, assholes.


  2. Troy
    October 13th, 2013 at 09:43 | #2

    Correction, $100B PER MONTH, not per year.


    The first time I saw that graph, EVERYTHING became clear.

    I think I discovered that on my own at FRED, since you can watch and read the corporate media for years and not see one whit of reality peaking through all the BS.

  3. Troy
    October 13th, 2013 at 09:45 | #3

    Also3, if Obama had tried to cut DOD spending, the Republicans would have cried bloody murder of course.


  4. Troy
    October 14th, 2013 at 20:12 | #4

    Over on metafilter, someone had the observation that the Kochs saw how Russia has devolved into an oligarchy, and are now trying to get in on that action here.

    The commenter said, ‘Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.’

    The backstory that noone’s talking about yet is that to cash out the Great Society promises to the baby boom and pay off the money we borrowed to build the current national security state is going to require taxes to basically double from here.

    But thanks to the ~30% “Value Voter” bloc and the ~40% pro-gun bloc the plutocrats are within spitting distance of winning control, just like they won in 1980, 1984, 1988, 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2010.

    The baby boom was made to pay in $2T in excess FICA taxes, 1989-now, and it’s getting time that taxes on the top 5% (whose incomes largely evade FICA) were raised to pay that back. $2T / 20 years is $100B/yr, so this is no minor tax burden that needs to be imposed, almost a 4% tax rate on the top 5%’s $2.7T in income.

    That doesn’t even get into medicare, which is going to be a total disaster here in the US, compared to Japan even, since as I’ve posted here over and over Japan’s aged demographics are actually tiny compared to the US’s (Japan’s age 65+ population is close to peaking already while the US’s is only starting to arrive).

  5. Troy
    October 17th, 2013 at 05:31 | #5

    Even tho they lost, they kinda won, too.

    Unless the electorate boots the TP out next cycle, they will have succeeded in dragging the nation’s political debate to their play field, continued tax cuts and welfare cuts in the future.

    Everyday the left has to defend itself is a day the right wins.

    It’s complete bullshit that ObamaCare is now some marxist scheme when in reality it’s just what Romney got going in MA.

    If Bush had rolled it out, it would be a centerpiece of the new conservative state.

    Really, really need to escape this nuthatch this decade. Tokyo 2020!

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