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Three Years, $4 Trillion, and ‘All the Right Choices’ Later

Another near-bankruptcy milestone. It's hardly an accident.

by
Tom Blumer

Bio

October 23, 2011 - 12:00 am
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On October 14 (a Friday, naturally), Tim Geithner’s bunch released the final Monthly Treasury Statement of the 2011 fiscal year. It showed that for the third consecutive year, the federal government’s reported deficit was well over $1 trillion — $1.298614 trillion, to be exact.

That brought the three-year deficit total to just over $4 trillion. Less than $400 billion of that occurred while George W. Bush was still president. Since Barack Obama entered the White House bound and determined to “stimulate” the economy with dramatic — and, it’s now clear, intended to be permanent — increases in federal spending, the rest is largely on him, with unfortunate recent assists from a too-timid House GOP majority.

The reported deficits don’t even tell the whole story. From Inauguration Day 2009 through September 30, 2011, the national debt increased by $4.16 trillion to almost $14.8 trillion. In the first 19 days of October alone, we’ve seen another $141 billion piled on. Almost $600 billion has been added since the conclusion of the debt-ceiling melodramatics on August 1.

As has been the case since Obama became community-organizer-in-chief, we must continue to question whether the damage he and his team have wrought, which has brought us from economic peril to the brink of economic calamity, is the result of incompetence or intention. The evidence in support of the latter continues to grow.

Obama recently told ABC’s Jake Tapper, “the economy is not where it wants to be and even though I believe all the choices we’ve made have been the right ones, we’re still going through difficult circumstances.”

Those who believe that economic improvement is not paramount on the president’s priority list pick up plenty of ammo from this revealing sentence. Obama spoke as if the economy is a living, breathing animal with its own wishes and desires separate from the rest of us. It seems that he didn’t want to tell Tapper that “it isn’t where we want it to be,” because to do so would have been an admission that meaningful economic improvement is a really important goal. That gambit left the next phrase wide open, giving the president free rein to express a belief about all of the administration’s “choices we’ve made” being right, without specifically saying what they have been right for.

If the goal really is to bankrupt the country, Obama, his administration, and his party (again on their own, until very recently) could hardly be going at it more effectively. From an already ridiculous $2.73 trillion in fiscal 2007, annual spending has increased by 32% to $3.60 trillion in the fiscal year just ended. The “stimulus” was far more than a failed initiative by any reasonable measurement; it was also used as a vehicle to move the “you can’t cut anything from this without being labeled a heartless meanie” baseline to an absolutely unsustainable level. The baseline continues moving ever upward: While Washington whined about austerity and making supposedly tough choices, fiscal 2011 spending came in 4% ahead of last year.

On October 19, Harry Reid perhaps inadvertently gave away the likelihood that the economic well-being of all Americans is not uppermost in the minds of the POR Economy’s architects (Nancy Pelosi, Obama, and Reid) when he asserted on the Senate floor: “It’s very clear that private-sector jobs have been doing just fine; it’s the public-sector jobs where we’ve lost huge numbers, and that’s what this legislation is all about.”

If the economy could talk, it would have vocally objected (all employment figures are seasonally adjusted):

  • The private sector is still down 6.2 million jobs from its January 2008 peak.
  • Non-postal federal government employment has increased by 339,000 in the past four years.
  • Employment in primary and secondary public education, which unjustifiably leaped by 290,000, or 3.7%, from January 2005 through September 2008, while enrollment barely budged (up by less than 0.2%), is now back to where it was.

Yet in the legislation to which Reid refers, he and his Democratic colleagues want to “save 400,000 teacher jobs and thousands of first-responder jobs that have either been cut or could soon be cut.” What’s really behind this, as Rush Limbaugh accurately discerned on October 20, is Reid’s need to fund his party’s 2012 election campaigns with public-sector union dues — the private sector be damned. The prospect that the campaign money well won’t be sufficiently deep has Joe Biden babbling, and doubling down with full White House support, about how rapes will increase and it will all be the fault of Republicans if the bill doesn’t pass.

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