President Obama on Budgeting: Then vs. Now

John Boehner

This week, President Obama dropped a bomb of a budget proposal, one that calls for more taxes, more spending and more government bureaucracy. It never balances – ever – and would lead to an explosion of America’s national debt to record levels.

The president brags that the deficit has been significantly reduced. But does he deserve any credit? At virtually every turn, he aggressively fought against Republicans’ efforts to cut spending. And let’s not forget: last year’s deficit may have been the smallest under Obama, but it’s still larger than any deficit during the previous administration.

So there’s a lot of work left to do, even if President Obama is content to ignore America’s long-term spending problem. It hasn’t always been this way, however. He used to at least pay lip service:

Then: “This year, the Federal Government will spend $220 billion on interest. That is more money to pay interest on our national debt than we’ll spend on Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. That is more money to pay interest on our debt this year than we will spend on education, homeland security, transportation, and veterans benefits combined. … And the cost of our debt is one of the fastest growing expenses in the Federal budget. This rising debt is a hidden domestic enemy, robbing our cities and States of critical investments in infrastructure … robbing our families and our children of critical investments …. Every dollar we pay in interest is a dollar that is not going to investment in America’s priorities. Instead, interest payments are a significant tax on all Americans—a debt tax that Washington doesn’t want to talk about. If Washington were serious about honest tax relief in this country, we would see an effort to reduce our national debt by returning to responsible fiscal policies.” (Senator Obama, 3/16/06)

  • Now: In the budget President Obama just proposed, it would cost $1.1 trillion to service the national debt in his second term (five times more than the amount he cited in 2006), and $5.6 trillion over the next 10 years – way more than the federal government currently spends on everything in just one year.

Then:The more we depend on foreign nations to lend us money, the more our economic security is tied to the whims of foreign leaders whose interests might not be aligned with ours. Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally.” (Senator Obama, 3/16/06)

  • Now:  Despite the fact that the national debt has more than doubled since that day, from $8.27 trillion to $18.08 trillion, President Obama said this month that he is “very confident that America is stronger, more prosperous, safer, and more influential today than it was when I took office.” (2/1/15)

Then: “The real problem with our long-term deficit actually has to do with our entitlement obligations …. [W]hat we have done is kick this can down the road. We’re now at the end of the road, and we’re not in a position to kick it any further.” (President-elect Obama, 1/15/09)

  • Now: Social Security, an entitlement program, is still scheduled to go bankrupt around 2030. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is still scheduled to go bankrupt next year, in 2016. In the budget President Obama just proposed, there is no plan to save these programs. In fact, he has never proposed a plan do so.

Then: “[I]f you look at the numbers, then Medicare in particular will run out of money and we will not be able to sustain that program no matter how much taxes go up. I mean, it’s not an option for us to just sit by and do nothing.  … [W]e have an obligation to make sure that we make those changes that are required to make it sustainable over the long term.” (President Obama, 7/11/11)

  • Now: Medicare is still scheduled to go bankrupt around 2030. In the budget President Obama just proposed, there is no plan to save it. In fact, he has never proposed a plan do so.

Then: “[T]o take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt [by $4 trillion] …. That’s irresponsible. It’s unpatriotic.” (Senator Obama, 7/3/08)

  • Now: The national debt stood at $10.6 trillion when President Obama took office and has increased by more than $7.4 trillion to date. In the budget he just proposed, the national debt would continue to rise to more than $20 trillion when he leaves office, and more than $26 trillion by 2025.

Then: “Democrats and Republicans must come together and restore the fiscal responsibility that served us so well in the 1990s. We have to live within our means. We have to reduce our deficit, and we have to get back on a path that will allow us to pay down our debt. … Ultimately, all this rising debt will cost us jobs and damage our economy. It will prevent us from making the investments we need to win the future. We won’t be able to afford good schools, new research, or the repair of roads – all the things that create new jobs and businesses here in America.  Businesses will be less likely to invest and open shop in a country that seems unwilling or unable to balance its books. And if our creditors start worrying that we may be unable to pay back our debts, that could drive up interest rates for everybody who borrows money – making it harder for businesses to expand and hire, or families to take out a mortgage.” (President Obama, 4/13/11)

  • Now: President Obama’s budget proposal never balances – ever. None of his six annual budget proposals have. House Republicans and President Clinton balanced the budget in the 1990s – something President Obama refuses to do.

Then: “If we keep on spending more than we take in, it’s going to cause serious damage to our economy,” (President Obama, 4/19/11)

  • Now: President Obama’s proposed budget would raise taxes by $2.1 trillion but increase spending by $2.4 trillion (65 percent), including by seven percent next year alone. Cumulative deficits would total $5.7 trillion over 10 years. In other words, his budget spends more than it takes in.

In response, Speaker Boehner said:

“While the president budget’s is about the past, our budget will be about the future. We will address our government’s spending problem and protect our national security. Our budget will balance, and it will help promote job creation and higher wages, not more government bureaucracy.”  

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