The PJ Tatler

Obama's Claim that Bush is Responsible for 90 Percent of the Deficit Earns Four Pinocchios

On 60 Minutes Sunday, President Obama made a pair of startling claims regarding his stewardship of the country. Well, he made more than two, but WaPo fact-checker Glenn Kessler focused on the two embedded in this Obama answer:

Over the last four years, the deficit has gone up, but 90 percent of that is as a consequence of two wars that weren’t paid for, as a consequence of tax cuts that weren’t paid for, a prescription drug plan that was not paid for, and then the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Now we took some emergency actions, but that accounts for about 10 percent of this increase in the deficit, and we have actually seen the federal government grow at a slower pace than at any time since Dwight Eisenhower, in fact, substantially lower than the federal government grew under either Ronald Reagan or George Bush.

According to Obama, the deficit that has ballooned under his watch is not his fault, and his government is growing at a 1950s pace. Glenn Kessler ran the numbers, which you can read here, and found them to be big giant lies.

We are not trying to make excuses for the fiscal excesses of the Bush administration — and Congress — in the last decade. But at some point, a president has to take ownership of his own actions.

Obama certainly inherited an economic mess, and that accounts for a large part of the deficit. But Obama pushed for spending increases and tax cuts that also have contributed in important ways to the nation’s fiscal deterioration. He certainly could argue that these were necessary and important steps to take, but he can’t blithely suggest that 90 percent of the current deficit “is as a consequence” of his predecessor’s policies — and not his own.

As for the citing of the discredited MarketWatch column, we have repeatedly urged the administration to rely on estimates from official government agencies, such as the White House budget office. It is astonishing to see the president repeat this faulty claim once again, as if it were an established fact.

It’s not astonishing. It’s the Obama MO. He either cherry picks from friendly press, or when there is none, he invents his own friendly press in the form of “neutral” studies written by people who used to work for him.