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."
Holtz-Eakin also notes that the center blames the 2009 deficit on Bush even though that year includes the $821 billion stimulus bill. "There was a LOT of activity in the final nine months (of fiscal 2009) that had nothing to do with Bush," he says. In addition, the 2009 deficit included two massive one-time-only expenditures: the Troubled Asset Relief Program and the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. But spending did not plunge after that. "The fact that spending remains as high as (2009's) means that Obama has replaced temporary spending with persistent spending," says Holtz-Eakin.
The center also insists Obama's signature achievement, national health care, will reduce the deficit in coming years, despite new estimates it will cost far more than originally claimed.
And then there are the Bush tax cuts, under which deficits actually shrank in the 2000s. With those cuts fully in place, the federal budget deficit went from $413 billion in 2004 to $318 billion in 2005 to $248 billion in 2006 to $162 billion in 2007. (The deficit climbed in 2008, to $410 billion, but that was caused by the economic downturn.) Why is the center so confident that those cuts, if they remain in place, will blow up the deficit in 2019?
And by the way, President Obama himself supports making the Bush tax cuts permanent, with the exception of lower rates for individuals making more than $200,000 a year and couples making more than $250,000. If Obama gets his way, and the tax cuts remain in place except for those in the upper bracket, will George W. Bush still be driving the deficit in 2019?
The new blame-Bush-forever argument shows once and for all that the Democrats' Bush obsession has raced completely out of control. Barack Obama has been president nearly four years and is asking for four more. The election is about him.
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