Critical Condition

NRO’s health-care blog.

A Choice Between the President and the Future


The Congressional Budget Office has just announced that “the federal budget deficit was about $390 billion in the first quarter of fiscal year 2010,” which is “$56 billion more than the shortfall in the same period in fiscal year 2009.”

In other words, we are running up an even higher deficit than we did last year, when we racked up the highest current-dollar deficit in U.S. history, the highest inflation-adjusted deficit in U.S. history, and the highest deficit as a percentage of the gross domestic product (GDP) except for during the Civil War, World War I, and World War II (higher even than during the Great Depression).

Despite the truly historic events listed above, U.S. deficits from President Washington through the election of President Obama averaged only 1 percent of GDP. Since President Obama’s election, they have averaged 10 percent of GDP — and they are on the rise.

President Obama and the Democratic Congress racked up $390 billion in new debt from October 1 to New Year’s Eve. In current dollars, that would rank as the fourth-highest deficit tally in U.S. history for an entire year. Only once before 2008 did we run up an annual budget deficit as high as the one we’ve just amassed in a single quarter.

This puts us on course for more than $5,000 in new debt spending for every man, woman, and child in America during fiscal year 2010. That’s $5,000 per person that you, your children, or your grandchildren will have to pay back — through either paying higher taxes or accepting reduced government spending.

With all of that in mind, doesn’t this seem like an ideal time to launch a brand-new health-care entitlement program to the tune of $2.5 trillion in its real first decade, with far higher tallies in the years to come?

Very soon, congressional Democrats will have to decide what’s more important: Leaving future generations of Americans a legacy that’s even remotely fiscally sound, or giving President Obama something to talk about during his State of the Union address other than his Nobel Peace Prize.


Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review