In an interview with former Bill Clinton apparatchik George Stephanopoulos aired on ABC Wednesday morning, President Barack Obama shared his beliefs about where the nation stands financially.
The takeaway quotes from that sit-down concern Obama’s unserious take on the size and grave nature of the federal government’s annual deficits, which have exceeded $1 trillion during each of the past four fiscal years, and the national debt, which, at $16.71 trillion as of Tuesday, has increased by over $6 trillion since he took office less than 50 months ago:
And, y– you know– I think what’s important to recognize is that– we’ve already cut– $2.5– $2.7 trillion out of the deficit. If the sequester stays in, you’ve got over $3.5 trillion of deficit reduction already.
And, so, we don’t have an immediate crisis in terms of debt.
Even if the first paragraph made sense, which it doesn’t, the second paragraph doesn’t follow logically.
The $2.5 trillion to $3.5 trillion in “cuts” to which Obama referred are really reductions in projected spending growth spread out over the next ten years. Very little of these reductions will take place in the current fiscal year, and the vast majority of them have obviously not happened “already.” Any claims relating to reductions in future years are speculative at best, because they can either be undone by future congresses with the help of Obama himself or a future president, or undermined by slow economic growth.
In early February, the Congressional Budget Office, using fairly aggressive growth assumptions, projected that the government will run cumulative deficits during the next ten fiscals years through 2023 amounting to $7 trillion, and that the “debt held by the public” (i.e., what Uncle Sam owes its bondholders and creditors) will grow by $7.7 trillion. The fact that future annual deficits might not be quite as absurdly high as what we’ve seen during the past four intolerable years would only lead one to conclude that there’s “no immediate crisis” if the national debt were currently small. Unfortunately, it’s not.
If you didn’t know any better, you would think that Barack Obama doesn’t understand the difference between the deficit, the amount by which government outlays exceed government receipts, and the national debt, which is how much the nation owes to its creditors. Though it’s tempting to believe otherwise, of course Obama knows the difference. What he is really hoping is that the average American, or at least the average low-information voter, doesn’t, and that his “clever” phrasing will cause many to believe that both our deficits and national debt are coming down. In other words, he’s betting against the intelligence of a large percentage of the American people, while also calculating, probably correctly, that his lapdogs in the establishment press won’t call him out for doing so, and will in fact support his misdirection. In other words, he’s not governing in any real sense; he has instead embarked on a 20-month campaign to win a Democratic majority in the House in the 2014 elections.