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The Change We Got: Bush’s Big Spending, Now on Steroids

Rather than making a clean break with Bush's failed economic policies, Obama is doubling down on them.

by
N.M. Guariglia

Bio

March 27, 2009 - 12:00 am
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A year ago, President Bush and Congress passed a “stimulus bill” for $146 billion to jumpstart the economy. It failed. Last summer, a housing bill was passed to save Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It cost $300 billion and it also failed. In the autumn, with the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the failure of Fannie and Freddie, the government then passed a “bailout” for Wall Street to the tab of $700 billion. It was a failure. A few weeks ago, President Obama signed into law another pork-laden stimulus bill, the euphemistically entitled American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

In one fell swoop, with one signing, and in just five weeks, President Obama committed himself to spending $787 billion of the taxpayer’s money — something none of his previous 43 predecessors could have the dishonor of saying.

Add to this President Obama’s $410 billion omnibus spending bill for 2009, his FY 2010 $4 trillion budget with $1 trillion in tax hikes, Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke’s pledge of $4 trillion, and Treasury Secretary Geithner’s plan for another $2 trillion — that’s trillion with a “t” — and what you have is not “change” between administrations, but rather Bush-Obama continuity which, in and of itself, represents an unprecedented change and fundamental threat to our longstanding socioeconomic way of life.

The Heritage Foundation, a prominent conservative think tank, has made this case quite clearly. President Bush enlarged government more than anyone since Lyndon Johnson; Obama will accelerate and expand on that. Bush inflated the federal budget by $700 billion; Obama will add another $1 trillion. Bush enacted a Medicare drug entitlement that will cost $800 billion; Obama wants $634 billion for government-run health care. Bush increased federal spending on education 58 percent faster than inflation; Obama wants to double it. Bush spent three percent of GDP on anti-poverty programs (the first ever to do so); Obama has already increased this spending by 20 percent.

For eight years, Democrats succeeded in portraying George Bush as a stereotypical conservative, given his penchant for good-ole’-boy southern social values and his proclivity for an assertive foreign policy posture. But economically, nothing could be further from the truth. George Bush was not a small-government conservative. He grew government, and the role of government, immeasurably. And Obama wants to add to that. Big time.

Under President Obama’s proposed budget, our deficit will hit $1.8 trillion this year — quadrupling the 2008 record shortfall and amounting to 13.1 percent of the country’s entire economic output. The Congressional Budget Office has projected $9.3 trillion in deficits over the next decade. That is $2.3 trillion worse than the Obama administration’s early predictions, $1 trillion per year until 2019, four times as much as President Bush’s deficits, and over five percent of the nation’s GDP — a perilously high level that simply cannot be sustained. Under Obama’s budget, the national debt would also double to 82 percent of the country’s GDP.

Senator Judd Gregg, who was Obama’s nominee for commerce secretary before withdrawing his name in protest, believes this budget will bankrupt the United States, stating, “If we maintain the proposals which are in this budget over the 10-year period that this budget covers, this country will go bankrupt. People will not buy our debt; our dollar will become devalued.”

And how is Obama handling the influx of troubling numbers? By doubling down on Bush’s policies, to paraphrase Brian Riedl, and by, of course, doing what he does best and what got him elected in the first place: over-promising. For example, in the midst of all this insanity, Obama has incredibly pledged to cut the national deficit in half by the end of his first term. Despite the statistics, he has not backed down from this assurance.

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