Specifically, a number of commentators on the Left have come up with a scenario in which they blame Bush for nearly all future federal budget deficits until at least 2019.
“The economic downturn, President Bush’s tax cuts and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq explain virtually the entire deficit over the next ten years,” writes the left-leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities in a report released last week. The major drivers of deficits through 2019, the Center says, are “not of President Obama’s making.”
The argument, which is popping up in liberal publications, has conveniently appeared at a time when Mitt Romney is blaming Obama for out-of-control spending. “If you want to pin blame for deficits on a president, a much more plausible candidate would be the guy who had the job before Obama,” writes Jonathan Cohn of the New Republic. Asks Sahil Kapur of the widely read lefty website Talking Points Memo: “To what extent are [Obama’s] decisions while in office to blame? The answer: very little.”
Is that really the case? Is the war in Iraq, which ran from 2003 to 2011, really going to drive the deficit in 2019? And what about Afghanistan, with American forces on schedule to leave? “It’s ludicrous,” says former Congressional Budget Office chief Douglas Holtz-Eakin. “We are out of Iraq and nearly out of Afghanistan. And under current law we are scheduled to take another $500 billion out of defense.”