Monday, August 08, 2011
To Be Fair, Obama’s Responsibility for the Downgrade Is only 15 Percent
August 7, 2011 by Dan Mitchell
It was a strange experience to read the comments and emails generated by yesterday’s post on the “Obama downgrade.”
Democrats and liberals were upset that I blamed Obama for the downgrade, as you might expect. Republicans and conservatives, however, were agitated that my first sentence pointed out that Bush bore significant responsibility for the spending binge that created the fiscal crisis.
This got me thinking about the underlying causes of America’s long-term fiscal problems and whether it might be possible to come up with some sort of reasonable estimate on which Presidents are most responsible for fiscal crisis.
So I decided to look at the most recent long-run forecast from the Congressional Budget Office. As you might suspect, entitlement programs are THE reason why the United States is in deep trouble.
What does this allow us to say about various presidents? Well, it turns out that Social Security is a relatively minor part of the problem, so even though President Roosevelt’s policies exacerbated and extended the Great Depression, the program he created is only responsible for a small share of the fiscal crisis. To give the illusion of scientific exactitude, let’s assign FDR 13.2 percent of the blame.
The health care numbers are much harder to disentangle because it’s not apparent how much of the increase is due to Medicare, Medicaid, Bush’s prescription drug entitlement, and Obamacare. A healthcare policy wonk may know these numbers, but the CBO long-run forecast didn’t provide much detail.
So with a big caveat that these are just wild estimations, I feel reasonably comfortable in saying that both Bush and Obama made matters worse with their reckless entitlement expansions, but that they merely deepened a fiscal hole that was created when President Johnson imposed Medicare and Medicaid.
With that in mind (and ignoring, for the sake of simplicity, the role of other Presidents – such as Nixon – who expanded the size and scope of health entitlements), here is my ranking of presidential responsibility for America’s fiscal decline.
This does not mean, however, that it was unfair yesterday to apply the “Obama Downgrade” label.
In part, he is responsible because the downgrade from Standard & Poor happened on his watch. But the real reason he earned that label is that he doubled down on the reckless policies of his predecessors and demagogued against lawmakers such as Cong. Paul Ryan who actually have tried to solve the problem.
Filed under: Arrogance of the Liberal Elites,Democratic demagoguery,Democrats & Double Standards,Liberal Hypocrisy
In an earlier thread, I observed the distinct absence of the sort of vitriolic, unrelenting protests against America’s military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan since Obama took office in 2008, and logically postulated that as a result, what the MSM regularly referred to as “the anti-war movement” was in reality, nothing more than a sustained, petulant tantrum directed at a Republican president.
Indeed, even those few on the far-left who still can’t rid themselves of their Bush Derangement Syndrome recognized a long time ago just how utterly devoid of character their fellow progressives really are:
Oh, so true.
Progressives have made a deal with the devil. And the bargain is this: they’ll shut up about murdering innocent Afghan and Pakistani civilians, about US assassination squads, and about the wholesale assault on our civil liberties, if they can get the goodies they want here at home: more government spending, more government employees, and more government period. After all, who cares if a lot of foreigners get killed? As long as they get theirs.
Note what she says at 1:47; she acknowledges the president inherited a mess, but points out that as a CEO of a company, she inherits a mess everyday. ”That is my job title, to fix problems, to get people to work together in harmony for one common goal.” Finally, she says the president needs to put together a plan asks the president, “Why can’t you put together a plan.”