Larry Elder

During the Reagan presidency, the year in which he incurred the largest deficit in dollars was 1986. The deficit was $221 billion. That year, the deficit, as a percentage of GDP, was 5 percent. Reagan's deficit in 1983 was less in dollars -- $207 billion -- but it was 6 percent of 1983's GDP, the highest percentage under his administration.

The 2009 deficit was $1.4 trillion -- 9.9 percent of GDP.

Obama's first-year deficit is higher than the deficit of any Reagan year by far -- both in dollars and as a percentage of GDP.

6) Now examine Olbermann's mind-boggling assertion that Obama's "federal budget debt" is "about the same as it was in 1970." In 1970, the deficit was 0.3 percent of GDP, or a total of almost $3 billion. The debt was 37.6 percent of GDP, or $380 billion. Whether compared with today's deficit or debt, the 1970 numbers were microscopic.

5) Olbermann asserts that "federal budget debt" (assuming we understand what he means) is "a good thing." Case closed? If a country runs up bills largely to fight a war to protect national security, one could argue that it is a good thing. If a country spends primarily on domestic programs -- Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and/or "stimulus" -- one could argue that a "federal budget debt" is a bad thing.

The president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Thomas Hoenig, calls the current and projected deficits "stunning." He says they run the risk of igniting inflation. He urges a reduction in spending, along with a call to increase revenue. The slippery slope of the housing bailout, he warns, could lead to demand to bail out other weak sectors of our economy. Where will it end, and at what cost to our standard of living and productivity?

4) Suppose Sarah Palin offered a wildly inaccurate take on the "federal budget debt"?

3) Viewers, at least some of them, now falsely believe Obama's debt and deficit are about the same as Reagan's. Since vile "right-wingers" love Reagan, they are, goes the argument, committing hypocrisy by complaining about today's debt and deficit. Olbermann frequently accuses people of lying, something that requires an intention to mislead. Was he lying? Was he just ignorant? Anyone can have a bad show. It doesn't make him -- as he calls others -- "the worst person in the world."

2) How will Olbermann handle this blunder? A retraction? A correction? Ignore it and hope nobody notices because almost nobody watches?

1) Jon Stewart, at least, is funny.

Larry Elder

Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit