The Corner

Obama’s Deficits

Jonathan Chait says that Obama’s plans will reduce the deficit (indeed that it is “hard to dispute” the alleged fact) and that “most of the people who are complaining about Obama’s fiscal [irresponsibility] today uttered not a peep of complaint about Bush.” Here, on the other hand, is Brian Riedl: “Before the recession, revenues were 18 percent of GDP and spending was 20 percent. After the recession, President Obama would maintain revenues at 19 percent of GDP, and spending at 22 percent. In other words, all new tax revenues would finance new spending, rather than deficit reduction. President Obama’s structural budget deficit would exceed President Bush’s.”

Assuming that Riedl’s numbers are correct and fairly chosen, it might be possible to condemn Obama’s deficits while not worrying about Bush’s because the former are likely to be larger. Or you might take the view that neither set of deficits is worth worrying too much about (which is the view I’m inclined to). I don’t see, though, how you can claim to be troubled by Bush’s deficits and unconcerned by Obama’s.

Chait may also be understating how much flim-flam is involved in Obama’s deficit claims.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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