George Bush was – by far – the biggest budget busting president of all time. In just 8 years he racked up almost as much debt as the previous 42 presidents did in the previous 212 years of the United States combined. To put it another way, Bush almost doubled the national debt in just 8 years. The national debt when Bush took office was $5.7 trillion, and when he left office it was $10.6 trillion – an increase of $5 trillion in 8 years.
Barack Obama – while vastly different on other policies – is doing his best George Bush impersonation when it comes to fiscal responsibility. According to a report issued by the Congressional Budget Office (link will open an Excel spreadsheet) today, Obama’s projected budgets will result in a national debt of $15.5 trillion in the next 8 years – an increase of $5 trillion.
Keep in mind that these are budget projections, and the CBO always relies on extremely optimistic economic scenarios. For example, when Bush took office, they estimated that the national debt would be paid off by 2010, and that obviously isn’t going to happen.
If you open the spreadsheet in the CBO link above (select the tab labeled “Federal Debt), you’ll see that the 2009 deficit is estimated at $1.39 trillion (cell E24) and that is projected to drop to “only” $636 billion in 2010 (cell F24). By 2013, the CBO is projecting the deficit to be “only” $42 billion (cell I24).
Does anyone actually believe that?
In just two short months, Obama passed a $700 billion stimulus package, and the Federal Reserve has said it will “expand it’s balance sheet” (a euphemism for printing money) by $300 billion by “purchasing” Treasury debt. That’s $1 trillion in additional debt in just two months!
Predictions: The actual 2009 deficit will exceed $1.6 trillion, and the increase in national debt in 2013 will be at least $1 trillion – many orders of magnitude higher than the rosy $42 billion currently projected. And the 2010 debt (currently projected to be $636 billion) will be well over $1 trillion.
Update – 8:15 pm ET: Crap, the numbers above are already out of date. The CBO just released new figures, estimating the 2009 deficit at $1.7 trillion and the 2010 deficit at $1.1 trillion.
The new estimate on the cumulative deficit (the amount added to the national debt) is $9.3 trillion through 2019 – roughly $1.3 trillion more than the last CBO estimate in January.
The new CBO estimate does not include an estimate for the total national debt, so I’m unable to be more precise than the numbers above. But with each passing day, Obama is getting closer to perfecting his George Bush financial folly impersonation.
If he really wanted to impersonate Bush, Obama would start proposing things like wiretaps, locking people up without charges, etc. Then he could trample on our rights as well as our wallets. And be just as bad as George.
I don’t think Obama will get that bad – I sure hope not – but he’s not starting off well by inviting these comparisons with the worst president ever.