Defending Fiscal Insanity
“Demagoguery” is not too strong of a word to describe Obama’s speech.

President Obama speaks at the Associated Press Luncheon in Washington, D.C.


So what did we get? Obama racked up the largest inflation-adjusted increases ever in government spending and the largest deficits (even larger than those the U.S. ran in the worst part of World War II), and it is hard to remember that his constant theme during the presidential debates was “net spending cut.”

Obama blamed the bad economy during the fall of 2008 on Bush’s profligate spending habits. Bush’s out-of-control spending, Obama pointed out, had caused the $500 billion expected deficit for 2009. He blamed the spending increases and deficits under Bush for the economic problems we were facing.

Just one week after the election, Obama began talking about up to a $500 billion stimulus. Two weeks after the election, Larry Summers told the Associated Press that the amount should be between $500 billion and $700 billion. In the end, it turned out to be $825 billion. Then there were four other jobs bills during the first two years of his administration.

There was no new economic announcement in the week after the election that could explain this complete reversal in Obama’s policies. The only economics number released soon after the election was the November 7 unemployment report, showing that the unemployment rate had risen from 6.6 to 6.8 percent. Not good, but hardly a crisis by itself and definitely not worse than Obama’s constant claim during the campaign that the economy was suffering the worst financial crisis since the Depression.

The most obvious explanation for the big switch in Obama’s position is that he always wanted a much bigger government, but he knew that Americans wouldn’t vote for him if he openly campaigned on it. If there was ever any doubt that Obama had lied to Americans when he promised that an Obama administration would make government smaller, people just needed to listen to his speech on Wednesday.

John R. Lott Jr. is a contributor and the co-author of the just released Debacle: Obama’s War on Jobs and Growth and What We Can Do Now to Regain Our Future (John Wiley & Sons, March 2012).