Has Obama really cut deficit spending?

posted at 11:01 am on January 16, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

He certainly claimed to have done so in his press conference on Monday, which even a simple look at federal spending over the last several years belies.  In my column for The Week on Tuesday, I ran through the math:

“Over the years,” Obama told the White House press corps, “I’ve signed into law about $1.4 trillion in spending cuts.” That may be news to most Americans, who see the federal government on track for a fifth straight year of trillion-dollar deficits under Obama. As these deficits show, Obama hasn’t done anything to bring the government in line with its revenues. In the FY2009 budget that Democrats kept out of Bush’s hands and which Obama approved in a final omnibus bill in March 2009, Bush proposed a spending level of $3.1 trillion, but Washington ended up spending $3.5 trillion instead, thanks in large part to the economic crisis.

That level of spending hasn’t abated. In fact, it has increased. The budget submitted by Obama in early 2012 for FY2013 proposed $3.8 trillion in new spending, an increase of 31 percent over the final Bush-Democratic Congress budget, and a 9 percent increase over the budget Obama signed two months into his term. So where exactly has spending been “cut”?

Investors Business Daily also did the math, and agrees that Obama’s claim comes up significantly short of reality.  They compare Obama’s future deficit trajectory to the proposal from Obama’s own Simpson-Bowles commission in this chart, calling it the Big Deficit Gulch:

But a closer look at the numbers shows that Obama is exaggerating how much deficit reduction he’s actually achieved, and is being decidedly Pollyannaish about the nation’s still massive long-term budget gap and what will be needed to close it. …

Obama’s Bowles-Simpson debt commission, for example, said in its final report — issued in late 2010 — that a credible $4 trillion deficit reduction plan would produce red ink of just $279 billion in 2020. But the current budget trajectory puts that year’s deficit at close to $600 billion, according to Congressional Budget Office data.

Meanwhile, the commission plan called for national debt to be 65% of GDP by 2020, but the current CBO forecast has it at about 75%.

Worse, while the debt commission plan produced a balanced budget by 2035, the CBO predicts that under current law annual deficits will start climbing again after 2018.

The window for real reductions in current and future spending as a way to protect the American economy is rapidly closing, too.  IBD bases that argument on government projections for deficit control if Obama’s policies continue:

Meanwhile, a Government Accountability Office report issued last fall cast the nation’s long-term debt problem in even starker terms. Keeping the debt-to-GDP ratio constant over the next 75 years would require either a 32% cut in projected spending or a 46% increase in taxes, assuming a more realistic scenario for baseline deficits.

And if nothing is done for a decade, the problem only gets worse, requiring a 55% hike in taxes or a 37% cut in spending.

At some point, both paths become politically impossible, and the easy route will be to end the entitlement programs altogether.  That’s the real danger of these massive deficits and increased federal spending, and when that comes, Tim Geithner’s message to Paul Ryan will be seen as the massively pusillanimous dodge that it was:

Andrew Malcolm points out that Obama seems to be losing interest in the latest non-solution to the nation’s problems:

President Obama has settled on a political communications strategy for his final term that begins Sunday:

Talk about admirable aspirations, ignore the nation’s economic and fiscal realities, keep everyone fighting amongst themselves over anything at hand while calmly deploring all the disputes, rancor and chaos that this president has helped to engineer.

Such stunning cynicism has actually worked pretty well for the Real Good Talker this past year.

Never mind stratospheric millions of jobless, an amazingly ineffective economic stimulus program, historic highs in poverty rates, a national debt larger than a national economy and nearly 50 million people collecting food stamps tossed out like free candy from a parade float.

Instead, talk about educating every single American child for their own fair shot at some kind of idealized future, delivering better healthcare to millions more people for less money with no additional doctors and protecting ill-defined middle-class Americans from someone doing something to them. …

Now that he’s got Washington and Republicans fighting over how to address his briefly postponed sequester cuts and a national debt that grows by $2.8 million every single minute of every single day, Obama this morning launches his next divisive distraction: More controls on firearms.

And to do so, he’s proposing a plan that has zero chance of going anywhere on Capitol Hill.  Call this a credibility deficit, and that’s growing larger every day, too.


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But but but….i could have sworn he got up at the 2010 G20 summit and announced his pledge to half the deficit by 2013.

can_con on January 16, 2013 at 11:03 AM

No cuts, no intention to cut, no intention to reduce the deficit or the debt.

mchristian on January 16, 2013 at 11:04 AM

Haven’t looked, but what do you bet he is including “cuts” that were in his first year, ones that were put into effect by the previous administration…

right2bright on January 16, 2013 at 11:06 AM

…and the MSM just sits there!
…and you think the general public is DUMB?

KOOLAID2 on January 16, 2013 at 11:06 AM

It’s really simple. Has the annual deficit declined at all over the course of Obama’s Presidency? Not really. It’s maybe dropped from $1.2 trillion to 1.1. And the recent tax hikes in the fiscal cliff deal will hardly make a dent in that figure. If he was serious about cutting deficit spending, the deficit would actually be going down.

Doughboy on January 16, 2013 at 11:07 AM

Don’t worry. All that new revenue will totally cover it all, jeeze guys.

I would put the sarc tag here, but Obama really thinks this, so I’m not really sure what to do. Besides drink I mean.

Gatsu on January 16, 2013 at 11:09 AM

Oh…he must be including the savings from winding down the 30 year wars planned in he Middle East. Silly us.

can_con on January 16, 2013 at 11:09 AM

…and he could have been a VP…he is presidential material, during a time when we need a fiscal realist.

right2bright on January 16, 2013 at 11:10 AM

Schweet! A thread I can just sit back and have it all explained to me by the HA trolls. I’m listening.

Bmore on January 16, 2013 at 11:11 AM

Why does everyone refuse to mention that the Democrats (Progressives) have been in control of the spending since 2006 when they had the majority of the House and Senate? Obama keeps saying that we must pay our bills which in fact started ratcheting up back then. If they had not been in control we might not be in this position today; thanks Pelosi. Another minor matter was the enforcement of making loans to people who could and would not repay. Now the Progressives want to eliminate the debt ceiling which will be the final nail in the coffin.

Pardonme on January 16, 2013 at 11:11 AM

This is what happens when a con-artist runs the country.

GarandFan on January 16, 2013 at 11:13 AM

This was the message of the 2012 election. It didn’t get through to the public. People were more worried about Republicans banning abortion and P90X.

All I can do when I read this is shrug, and think to myself that elections have consequences.

I have zero faith that Obama will do anything to fix deficit spending. It’s simply never going to happen. The best anyone can do now is try to figure out the fiscal state of the country in 2015-16 and start forming a plan to educate the public about the impact that this course of action will have on the country.

Part of me wishes that milk prices would have doubled with the fiscal cliff talks. Then the country might have actually noticed that there are fiscal problems facing our country.

Ferris on January 16, 2013 at 11:13 AM

The liar lied.

Long live the liar.

fogw on January 16, 2013 at 11:13 AM

LOL, this is one of the more comical of the recent Obama lies.

Holy crap, who believes this moronic stuff? /rhetorical question

Midas on January 16, 2013 at 11:16 AM

It’s all well. The predictions are based on much more income from high earners and lots more employed people. Both of which are not just wishful thinking but LIES.

jukin3 on January 16, 2013 at 11:17 AM

Like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama has said he won’t build a Death Star so that’s another 100 Trillion cut from the deficit. Our problems are solved.

gwelf on January 16, 2013 at 11:17 AM

HAL unavailable for comment.

can_con on January 16, 2013 at 11:19 AM

Obysmal has been reaping the benefits of the $800 million “stimulus” that has been built into the continuing resolutions as part of a baseline for the last several years. The fraud has increased our deficit with his shell games.

onlineanalyst on January 16, 2013 at 11:22 AM

Part of me wishes that milk prices would have doubled with the fiscal cliff talks. Then the country might have actually noticed that there are fiscal problems facing our country.

Ferris on January 16, 2013 at 11:13 AM

Over 3/4 of working Americans saw their paychecks shrink as a result of the fiscal cliff deal. If that’s not enough to wake them the F up, I don’t know what will be.

Doughboy on January 16, 2013 at 11:26 AM

Part of me wishes that milk prices would have doubled with the fiscal cliff talks. Then the country might have actually noticed that there are fiscal problems facing our country.

Ferris on January 16, 2013 at 11:13 AM

all of me does except the hair on my left arm. But it always takes that side.

DanMan on January 16, 2013 at 11:27 AM

Has Obama really cut deficit spending?

An Obama spending cut is kind of a Clinton sort of thing, you know, what is the meaning if “is”… In Obama’s case, is $41.00 of increased spending with $1.00 of spending cuts a spending cut…

SWalker on January 16, 2013 at 11:27 AM

Obama is the worst President in the History of this Nation.

Baxter Greene on January 16, 2013 at 11:29 AM

All hail dear leader
He’s awesome you racists
-lsm

cmsinaz on January 16, 2013 at 11:30 AM

Mind you, this all is just a projection of when we will stop annually adding to the current $16.4 TRILLION debt!

If you don’t have a budget, how can you even cut spending? After all, without a budget, spending and revenue aren’t even projected. Plus many of the Owebama “cuts” are like the “cut funding Iraq war”. Does Owe get a spending cut credit for now not having a consulate and ambassador in Libya? Does Owe get credit for a spending cut for the 3 state department employees that resigned but came back on the job the next day?

katablog.com on January 16, 2013 at 11:30 AM

When he has those children on stage for his gun speachifying today, he needs to also mention to those kids he’s leaving each of them a bill for $100,000 in debt they owe when they turn 18.

Tater Salad on January 16, 2013 at 11:31 AM

To a liberal/communist if you want to spend 8 trillion but only get to spend 4 trillion you cut your spending in half – no matter what the income is.

Corsair on January 16, 2013 at 11:31 AM

When that stimulus and unemployment spending starts to kick in you racist hicks are gonna have egg all over your faces.

-Tim (I’m getting out while the getting is good) Geithner.

antipc on January 16, 2013 at 11:31 AM

He should forever be know as President Debt.

Tater Salad on January 16, 2013 at 11:32 AM

The “current trajectory” is not accurate. $700 billion deficit in 2014? No freakin way!

Wigglesworth on January 16, 2013 at 11:33 AM

In Obama’s case, is $41.00 of increased spending with $1.00 of spending cuts a spending cut…

SWalker on January 16, 2013 at 11:27 AM

over ten years that works out to over 24% using their mathmagical way of calculating savings

DanMan on January 16, 2013 at 11:33 AM

In the history of the Republic there has never been a President or even a politician who has lied so brazenly and so shamelessly like Obama… It is simply beyond belief…

mnjg on January 16, 2013 at 11:34 AM

From Levin’s show yesterday, more 0bama hypocrisy: http://freebeacon.com/flashback-2006-obama-calls-debt-ceiling-increase-a-sad-state-of-affairs/

“We are voting on the budget today,” he said at a March 16, 2006 event. “It’s a sad state of affairs. We just voted to increase the debt limit. The U.S. total debt at this point exceeds $8 trillion. That’s 8 trillion with a ‘T.’ So we’ve got to get our fiscal house in order here in Washington. I’m not sure it’s going to happen under the current leadership in Congress.”

This corrupt Chicago thug has DOUBLED the debt in only 4 years. Yeah, 0bama, that’s $16 trillion–with a capital “T.”

Our country is so screwed.

SheVee on January 16, 2013 at 11:38 AM

The “current trajectory” is not accurate. $700 billion deficit in 2014? No freakin way!

Wigglesworth on January 16, 2013 at 11:33 AM

It the same trajectory of the now infamous Unemployment Obama Stimulus chart where it predicted to have unemployment below 5% by 2013 because of the Stimulus…

http://www.economics21.org/blog/revisiting-unemployment-predictions

mnjg on January 16, 2013 at 11:39 AM

LOL, this is one of the more comical of the recent Obama lies.

Holy crap, who believes this moronic stuff? /rhetorical question

Midas on January 16, 2013 at 11:16 AM

It’s ridiculous how many times I’ve seen this repeated by Obamabots on Facebook and in the comments sections of the WaPo and NYT. It’s an article of faith to the Obama sheep that also proves that GOP opposition is, like, simply racist, because Obama has cut more spending than Bush did!!1!1!!!!111!!!1

rockmom on January 16, 2013 at 11:39 AM

In Obama’s case, is $41.00 of increased spending with $1.00 of spending cuts a spending cut…

SWalker on January 16, 2013 at 11:27 AM

over ten years that works out to over 24% using their mathmagical way of calculating savings

DanMan on January 16, 2013 at 11:33 AM

When you make up your own rules I guess math can be used to prove anything, especially when the rules you are making up… are the rules of math.

SWalker on January 16, 2013 at 11:39 AM

Obama is the worst President in the History of this Nation.

Baxter Greene on January 16, 2013 at 11:29 AM

Not yet… He is not yet worse than FDR and LBJ the worst socialist Presidents ever…

mnjg on January 16, 2013 at 11:40 AM

Strange…….trolls?

Bmore on January 16, 2013 at 11:43 AM

Over 3/4 of working Americans saw their paychecks shrink as a result of the fiscal cliff deal. If that’s not enough to wake them the F up, I don’t know what will be.

Doughboy on January 16, 2013 at 11:26 AM

The vast majority of those who voted for Obama in 2012 would not wake up because they believe in communism and taking other people money… Now all what it takes is just 4% of those who voted for him in 2012 to wake up and he would have a minority of voters supporting him…

mnjg on January 16, 2013 at 11:43 AM

Obama is the worst President in the History of this Nation.

Baxter Greene on January 16, 2013 at 11:29 AM

…the POLITBURO disagrees!

KOOLAID2 on January 16, 2013 at 11:44 AM

Strange…….trolls?

Bmore on January 16, 2013 at 11:43 AM

Math is hard, the trolls are confused by the math stuffs…

SWalker on January 16, 2013 at 11:47 AM

It’s ridiculous how many times I’ve seen this repeated by Obamabots on Facebook and in the comments sections of the WaPo and NYT. It’s an article of faith to the Obama sheep that also proves that GOP opposition is, like, simply racist, because Obama has cut more spending than Bush did!!1!1!!!!111!!!1

rockmom on January 16, 2013 at 11:39 AM

It took a while to admit it, but I’ve come to the conclusion that many Leftists are in fact religious zealots.

Their religion is literally the Progressive ideology. Their unshakable faith is in Big Government. True believers…

visions on January 16, 2013 at 11:50 AM

Can a passing grade in grade 4 math be added to the constitutional requirements for presidential eligibilty?

can_con on January 16, 2013 at 11:51 AM

rockmom on January 16, 2013 at 11:39 AM

It took a while to admit it, but I’ve come to the conclusion that many Leftists are in fact religious zealots.

Their religion is literally the Progressive ideology. Their unshakable faith is in Big Government. True believers…

visions on January 16, 2013 at 11:50 AM

The only thing that Liberals believe in, is that the end justifies the means.

SWalker on January 16, 2013 at 11:56 AM

Last year, the guy didn’t take his seventh vacation. Here’s some budget-saving austerity for you rubes!

Archivarix on January 16, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Can a passing grade in grade 4 math be added to the constitutional requirements for presidential eligibilty?

can_con on January 16, 2013 at 11:51 AM

Only if minorities are given an easier test. Because derp!

Archivarix on January 16, 2013 at 12:01 PM

Stranger still. This thread has been up well over an hour, nearly two. I even gave the three trolls on the gun thread a heads up. I guess they are just in over their heads on that thread. You would have thought that the ditchdigger would have at least shown up.

Bmore on January 16, 2013 at 12:42 PM

And the recent tax hikes in the fiscal cliff deal will hardly make a dent in that figure. If he was serious about cutting deficit spending, the deficit would actually be going down.

Doughboy on January 16, 2013 at 11:07 AM

The fiscal cliff deal SPENT every penny of projected revenue from the tax hikes on windmills and movies and stuff.

MJBrutus on January 17, 2013 at 6:23 AM