The Corner

Budget Rhetoric and Budget Reality

In his State of the Union address, President Obama said he was “setting the record straight” on budget deficits. He followed that up by talking about how he had been in a tough spot when he took office. This pairing of statements — delivered in a completely serious tone — was actually greeted with some laughter in the chamber. People tend to laugh at the absurd.

Let’s really set the record straight:

The Congressional Budget Office has just released deficit projections for 2010, the first year for which President Obama and this Congress are entirely accountable. They show that the federal budget deficit for 2010, in inflation-adjusted dollars, will be the second-highest in this country’s history. The Civil War, World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II were tough times to be in office, but we never ran deficits this high during any of them — even after adjusting for inflation!

In fact, if not for President Obama’s $787 billion “economic stimulus” and its effect on last year’s deficit, the 2010 deficit would be the very highest inflation-adjusted deficit in U.S. history.

The president was shameless enough to say that the federal government should tighten its fiscal belt. The disconnect between the rhetoric and the reality is staggering.

– Jeffrey H. Anderson, the director of the Benjamin Rush Society, was the senior speechwriter for Secretary Mike Leavitt at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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