Just to see how ill-suited the president is for the times, all you have to do is look at the budget the White House released yesterday. Riots erupt in Greece as that debt-ridden nation’s government attempts to adopt an austerity plan to address its problems. Moody’s downgrades the debt ratings of nine European countries.
Just shy of four years ago, candidate Barack Obama seemed aware of these risks. In the third presidential debate in 2008, when Bob Schieffer asked Mr. Obama and his then-Republican rival about their spending plans, he noted that that year’s deficit would reach “an astounding record high $455 billion dollars“. Even as he refused to back down from his “$750 billion dollar rescue package”, the then-Democratic nominee acknowledged that we had been “living beyond our means” and were “going to have to make some adjustments.”
Then, rhetorically at least, he acknowledged the then-emerging fiscal crisis. Now, he seems oblivious to it. His budget yesterday thus represented a step in precisely the wrong direction.
It forecasts deficits as far as the eye can see, with more than twice the red ink in FY2013 as as the “astounding” figure Schieffer cited.
This should be the primary issue in the current campaign. The president has shown he’s not willing to make the hard choices leaders must make. We’re still living beyond our means. Still waiting for that “net spending cut.” Under this proposal, federal spending would consume nearly one-quarter of GDP, more than five percentage points ahead of levels in the second half of the Clinton administration (declining from 19.5 to 18.2%).
The president hasn’t put forward a plan for deficit of reduction — at a time when that is perhaps the most pressing issue facing our economy.