Byron York

In the early days of the Obama administration, a lot of people, including some Republicans, weren't much bothered by the new president's tendency to blame his predecessor for the nation's problems. After all, Barack Obama did inherit a mess from George W. Bush. The voters were inclined to give Obama time to turn things around.

But how much time? Certainly a year was reasonable. And so, as Obama's one-year mark approached in 2010, many political analysts assumed he would stop blaming Bush for the nation's woes. The conversation would change from the problems Obama inherited to the effectiveness of his efforts to fix them.

But a year passed, and Obama and his supporters continued to point the finger at Bush. At that point, nearly everyone assumed that when Obama's two-year mark came, he would certainly have to stop blaming his predecessor.

But no -- Obama kept at it, all the way through the three-year mark. And now, in the president's fourth year in office, with his re-election campaign under way, some of the president's defenders have come up with something new entirely. They're not only still blaming Bush for the problems of the Obama administration -- they're blaming Bush for anticipated problems in Obama's second term, should he win one.

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 10 years," writes the left-leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities in a newly released report. 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."


Byron York

Byron York, chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner