We’re never going to get Barack Obama to do math properly, but we’d like to see him figure out the difference between debt and deficit. We’d also like to get him to recall the history involved in both. Here’s an exchange from Sunday’s 60 Minutes interview where Obama seems mighty confused about debt, deficit, and the calendar:
KROFT: The national debt has gone up sixty percent in — in the four years that you’ve been in office.
OBAMA: Well, first — first of all, Steve, I think it’s important to understand the context here. When I came into office, I inherited the biggest deficit in our history. And over the last four years, the deficit has gone up, but ninety 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.
Well, first of all, Kroft asked Obama about debt, not deficits. Deficits add to debt, but they’re not the same thing. The first budget might have been “inherited” — we’ll get back to that in a second — but the trillion-dollar-plus deficits in the next three years all belonged to Barack Obama. Those were all his doing, and the laughable part of this claim is that if Congress had adopted his last two budgets, the problems would have been worse. That’s why Obama’s two most recent budget proposals didn’t get a single vote in the Senate, which his own party controls.
Furthermore, Obama talks to Kroft as if he had no input into policy at all, but was simply a victim of a federal government left on a Bushian autopilot. Obama’s party had large legislative majorities in both the House and the Senate the first two years of his term. Obama could have done practically anything he wanted about deficits and debt during that time. Instead, he spent his time passing ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank.
Speaking of legislative majorities, which party controlled Congress the two years previous to Obama’s election as President? Why, it was the Democrats. Who passed that budget that Obama “inherited”? The Democrat-controlled House and Senate — including a Senator named Barack Obama. And which President signed it into force with an omnibus spending bill in March 2009? Obama did, which means he inherited the budget and its deficit from himself.
Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at with the quote and the link to the Obamateurism. I’ll post the best Obamateurisms on a daily basis, depending on how many I receive. Include a link to your blog, and I’ll give some link love as well. And unlike Slate, I promise to end the feature when Barack Obama leaves office.
Illustrations by Chris Muir of Day by Day. Be sure to read the adventures of Sam, Zed, Damon, and Jan every day!