By the numbers:
How much additional deficit and debt does Mr. Obama add relative to a do-nothing budget with none of his programs? Mr. Obama’s “debt difference” is $4.829 trillion — i.e., his tax and spending proposals add $4.829 trillion to the CBO do-nothing baseline deficit. The Obama budget also adds $177 billion to the fiscal year 2009 budget. To this must be added the $195 billion of 2009 legislated add-ons (e.g., the stimulus bill) since Mr. Obama’s election that were already incorporated in the CBO baseline and the corresponding $1.267 trillion in add-ons for 2010-2019. This brings Mr. Obama’s total additional debt to $6.5 trillion, not his claimed $2 trillion reduction. That was mostly a phantom cut from an imagined 10-year continuation of peak Iraq war spending.
The claim to reduce the deficit by half compares this year’s immense (mostly inherited) deficit to the projected fiscal year 2013 deficit, the last of his current term. While it is technically correct that the deficit would be less than half this year’s engorged level, a do-nothing budget would reduce it by 84%.
Keep in mind that almost every single extra dollar of debt gets added to the deficit after Obama says the recession will be over. Long over.
Were we really suffering from too little spending and too few taxes as far back as, say, 2008?