Donald Lambro

And there's the growth of the economy, as weak as that is, which increased the government's income. I don't think Obama's impotent economic policies added much to any revenue growth, but corporate incomes have risen as businesses have cut costs and boosted their net earnings which has resulted in higher tax revenues.

The result, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, is that this year's federal budget deficit will fall to nearly $650 billion, after four years of annual deficits of well over $1 trillion. ($1.4 trillion in 2009; $1.3 trillion in 2010; $1.3 trillion in 20011, and $1.2 trillion in 2012.)

The CBO's lower deficit forecast struck budget watchers as wildly exaggerated at the time, and this week the Obama administration said it expects the 2013 deficit to be around $759 billion -- still about three-fourths of a trillion dollars that will be added to a $16 trillion debt.

These deficits are expected to mushroom after 2015 when millions of baby-boomers begin applying for Social Security and Medicare. That will push debt levels higher than at any time in our history (except for World War II), above 70 percent of the economy, the CBO says.

Obama blithely ignores the looming fiscal catastrophe that awaits us in the coming decade, and the Democrats in Congress continue to insist Social Security and Medicare are doing just fine and we needn't worry about how to pay for them in the years to come.

But we'd better start worrying about them before it's too late. Both entitlements need to be reformed to insure that they offer cost-effective, market-oriented options for future retirees.

But we are never going to be able to address either the government's looming budget deficits or entitlement costs until we get America's economy growing at a faster pace, creating more businesses that will drive unemployment rates down to normal levels.

Obama ignored the economy's poor performance in his reelection campaign and has continued to ignore it in the first six months of his second term, hoping it will heal itself. It hasn't and it won't.

But some in the long-compliant news media are starting to criticize his economic truancy more forcefully than at any time in his presidency.

Last month, New York Times economic columnist Paul Krugman, one of Obama's earliest supporters, said "We're still very much living through what amounts to a low-grade depression..."

This week, the Post's chief political reporter Dan Balz bluntly observed that Friday's employment report that the economy created 195,000 jobs in June -- much ballyhooed by the White House -- was "the latest example of a nation with lowered economic expectations."

In a scathing indictment of the Obama economy, Balz bemoaned that "332,000 more people" were working part-time because they couldn't find full-time employment; that 4.3 million, out of 11.8 million jobless people, have been out of work for 27 weeks or more; and economic growth slowed to a crawl (1.8 percent) in the first quarter.

He was critical of "wage stagnation" and the declining labor force rate, as discouraged job seekers stopped looking for work, ruefully pointing out that "the economy isn't employing nearly as large a share of the potential workforce as it once did."

Obama still gives lip-service to the middle-class, but as Balz rightly notes, "they have not been his principal focus."

As economic analyst Neil Irwin, Balz's colleague at the Post, pointed out last week in his midterm report card on the economy, "We (still) aren't living up to our potential."

Far from it. Economists say at our present job creation rates, it will take at least five years before we return to pre-recession unemployment levels of 4.7 percent.

Maybe the president should stop trying to scare us about things that won't happen, and begin focusing on the things that continue to plague our country and his presidency: persistently high unemployment, stagnant middle-class incomes and a chronically weak economy.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.