On her Facebook page, a dear friend – who is smart, compassionate, a good wife and mother and generally a terrific person – writes that she is concerned for her children and the $16 Trillion National Debt that will be hanging over their heads. It would probably not be helpful to point out that by 2020 that number may be upward of $25 Trillion or that the really scary number is our unfunded liability of about $70 Trillion. At around 100% of GDP, $16 Trillion is undoubtedly a scary number, but hand-wringing is neither helpful nor necessary. No one will come knocking on your children’s doors asking for their share.
I’m a little uncomfortable with the last line of the post, “Thank you, Mr. Obama”. I prefer President Obama or Mr. President, he was elected by a clear majority of American voters, something that was not so clear in either of his predecessor’s two terms, but that’s old news. Love of and respect for this country are reflected by respect for the office and the holder of that office. Respect for our service men and women demands respect for their Commander In Chief. Our Judeo-Christian values teach us to respect the leaders of our country, whether or not we voted for them or agree with their policies. This president has not been afforded the deference accorded all who have preceded him. Love him or hate him, he is our president.
The numbers are tricky and tell a story muddled in nuance and inference. It’s irrefutable that under Bush 43 both the size of government and the debt exploded at levels greater than under the first 42 presidents combined. That was a hefty feat, but not all the blame can be laid at 43’s feet, just as not all the blame for the last $5 Trillion can be attributed to President Obama. A study out of the University of Maryland points to policies already in place at the time of the Obama inauguration for most of that number and suggest that policies of the Obama administration will contribute less than $1 Trillion to the debt over the period 2008-2018. A big chunk of that $16 Trillion was incurred fighting two wars on the far side of the globe, a cost that had been carried off the books by the previous administration. Another chunk starts with revenue lost from two rounds of tax cuts both before and after the invasion of Afghanistan, arguably an act of lunacy and/or self-destruction.
On the Wednesday night of the DNC Convention, President Clinton simplified the GOP position: “We tanked the economy, President Obama’s not fixing it fast enough, put us back in charge”. Sort of funny, sort of not. Asked to accept blame for not fixing their mess fast enough – 800,000 jobs lost the month he took office – the President is also asked to accept blame for…..everything else. A fellow motorcycle rider blamed the President for shutting down the space program, either unaware or uninterested that NASA defines its own mission.
It’s easy to blame a guy who’s been painted as an outsider, a Socialist (how many Teabaggers can define Socialism?), a facist, a Muslim, foreign-born and a America-hater. Throw enough names at a person and some of them are going to stick. He’s a victim of The Big Lie just as Jews were in Nazi Germany in the 1930’s. Funny how otherwise reasonable people will believe something if they hear it enough, no matter how implausible.
Back to the numbers. After a 3 Trillion Dollar ding in the economy in 2008, the only thing wrong with the $700 Billion stimulus is that it was probably too small, maybe by half. It is incontrovertible that America is in a much better place than the day of President Obama’s inauguration. Did anyone really think it was possible to fix the worst economic, housing and credit downturn of our lifetimes in just 4 years?
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that Obamacare will not cost ONE DOLLAR through 2024, possibly saving A TRILLION DOLLARS over that period. Saving GM saved over a million jobs and most probably our economy from complete collapse. There were no private buyers and the loan is being paid back at a profit to the Treasury. Whatever you think President Obama did to your children’s future, his contribution to our national debt is minimal.
If anyone is interested in protecting your children’s futures, rest assured it is not the people who want to go back to the failed policies of that failed administration. It is not the people who want to give further tax breaks to the very wealthy – as if previous tax breaks created any jobs – thereby creating an even greater debt, the only solution to which will be cutting education, health care, research, infrastructure, loan guarantees for small businesses…all the things that will no longer be available to your children or your children’s children. Therein lies the real danger to your children’s future.