Obama Drowns in Red Ink
His stunning lack of leadership fuels our fiscal catastrophe.



Deroy Murdock

‘Today I am pledging to cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term in office,” President Obama boldly declared on February 23, 2009. He added that this “means taking responsibility right now, this administration, for getting our spending under control.”

Among Obama’s parade of disappointments, this vehicle may be the most dangerous.

Obama was inaugurated about a third of the way through fiscal year 2009, and that year’s deficit totaled $1.41 trillion. Had he halved this shortfall, FY 2012’s deficit should have remained below $705 billion. Instead, it was $1.1 trillion — $395 billion (56 percent) above Obama’s pledge.

Under Obama, America has made history: four consecutive annual deficits surpassing $1 trillion. After FY 2009’s $1.41 trillion hole (which he and an all-Democratic Congress could have filled), the next three deficits were, in chronological order, $1.29 trillion, $1.3 trillion, and $1.1 trillion. Thus, Obama has swelled the national debt by at least $5.1 trillion — all in one term. Another record. (See chart.)

As The Weekly Standard’s Jeffrey H. Anderson recalls, Obama predicted in May 2009 that FY 2012’s deficit would be just $557 billion. Obama misunderestimated the depth of last year’s red ink by almost exactly half. Never take a diving lesson from this man.

Obama’s massive misjudgment confirms his profligacy and incompetence. The least a president should do is forecast accurately the pace at which he spends the nation into oblivion. Obama cannot manage even that.

Obama’s stunning lack of leadership fuels this catastrophe. Budgets are key to controlling spending. Nonetheless, while the Republican House of Representatives has passed two budgets, Obama has permitted the Democratic Senate to violate the 1974 Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act by refusing to endorse any budget whatsoever. Like an equatorial backwater patrolled by feral chickens, the United States of America has not adopted a budget since April 29, 2009.

Even worse, Obama has not exercised enough muscle to earn even one congressional vote for his latest budget. It failed unanimously, with every voting House and Senate member, Republican and Democrat alike, giving his blueprint a thumb down. The House killed Obama’s proposal 0–414. The Senate followed suit, 0–99. That Obama could not convince even one of Congress’s 535 members to support such pivotal legislation represents a canyonesque low in presidential ineptitude. How appropriate for a man who has driven America off a cliff, and still floors the accelerator as the nation speeds toward the jagged rocks below.

Obama also inculcates a culture of spending. If he tightened his belt, and demanded accountability among federal employees, Washington might emulate his model. Instead, the bacchanal roars on. Among infinite examples of this obscenity:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) gave an Idaho company $300,000 to promote caviar consumption.

The National Science Foundation shelled out $350,000 to study whether golfers might putt better if they imagined that the holes on courses were larger than they actually are.

USDA “invested” $2 million to launch an internship program. And then it hired precisely one intern. This breathtaking sum included $192,500 to house that intern.

Obama has expanded the Lifeline program, which now gives poor people free cell phones. While the program started under President Reagan, Obama has exploded Lifeline’s budget by 107 percent — from $772 million in 2008 to $1.6 billion today.

“Keep Obama in president [sic],” one Lifeline beneficiary enthused last month. “He gave us a phone. He gonna do more.”

The Obama administration gave A123 Systems a stimulus grant to manufacture electric-car batteries. Obama predicted at a 2010 Rose Garden ceremony that A123 would hire “more than 3,000 by the end of 2012.” He added: “This is what’s possible in a clean-energy economy.”