Senator Johnson Franks on Deficit

We’ve already addressed Johnson’s thinking on the stimulus in a recent mailing to his constituents, let’s now move on with the federal deficit. He provides us with a lovely graphic to get started.

Pie Chart, Federal Deficits

Here’s the article from which the graphic was derived. The article includes, among other things, the following surprising statements:

If the analysis is extended further into the future, well beyond 2012, the Obama agenda accounts for only a slightly higher share of the projected deficits.

How can that be? Some of his proposals, like a plan to put a price on carbon emissions, don’t cost the government any money. Others would be partly offset by proposed tax increases on the affluent and spending cuts. Congressional and White House aides agree that no large new programs, like an expansion of health insurance, are likely to pass unless they are paid for.

So, the numbers which support the graphic are based on the idea that “no large new programs . . . are likely to pass unless they are paid for.” Right. Not to mention that increasingly strict regulation of businesses will indeed “cost the government money” when people don’t have any revenue to pay taxes on. The erroneous presuppositions inherent in these numbers are enormous.

Barack Obama has been president for 9 months (give or take). He now owns the deficit, no matter who created it. For him (and for his supporters such as Senator Johnson) to continue to claim that “ahh, we had this problem and can’t do anything about it right now” is remarkably childish. There are any number of things which could be done to reduce the affects of all the poor choices which were made by the President’s predecessors. However, the uproar isn’t about making positive changes to governmental spending habits. Nor does the current president want to stop spending at insane rates–he just wants to spend the money on different things (peace, love and lattes come to mind).

Poor fiscal policies have increased the deficit for years, including massive increases during President Bush’s years in office. Whatever the cause (including 9/11, Afghanistan and Iraq) Bush’s spending did add to the deficit. Yet the picture provided above is misleading, at best. Let’s look at another image, this one showing the past deficits as well as future projections by the White House and the CBO. Oh, and the numbers haven’t improved as of late.

Projected US Deficit

Right. Seems as though the slice of pie for Obama might be a bit bigger than Senator Johnson would have us believe. Of course, don’t forget that as a senator, Obama could have voted against increasing the deficit with regard to those “Bush-era” laws and policies. He largely did not.

The Gateway Pundit (Jim Hoft) looked at some of the issues surrounding deficits earlier this year. Here is his take on the matter:

The truth is that Obama inherited a 2008 budget deficit of 459 billion dollars. He voted for the 700 billion dollar bank rescue in the fall. He was left 350 billion from this spending bill when he took office. He then spent 787 billion dollars on a Stimulus Bill, 33 billion dollars on the SCHIP bill, and 410 billion dollars on his record-setting Omnibus Bill. Karl Rove explained that if Obama didn’t like the banking bailout bill he could have refused to spend that 350 billion dollars that Bush left him but he didn’t. Obama went ahead and spent it anyway.

The CBO estimated that the Obama budget deficit will total an astounding 13.1 percent of GDP this year. As a comparison, under George Bush, the federal deficit for 2008 was 3.2 percent of GDP. The deficit for fiscal year 2007, in the last budget adopted when Congress was controlled by Republican majorities, was 1.2 percent of GDP. Obama’s deficit will force the United States to borrow nearly $10 trillion in the next decade.

One understands Senator Johnson’s desire to put himself and the President in a good light when it comes to monetary policy. That desire should not trump the truth. He does us all a disservice by providing such thinly sourced information as fact. While there are times when a picture is worth a thousand words, this one seems to have a deficit of at least that much.