To understand how, consider that the Democratic explanation for our current malaise is utterly fallacious. Mr. Obama and his allies identify the "Bush tax cuts," "two wars that weren't paid for," and "deregulation" as the causes of America's present economic doldrums. But federal outlays as a percentage of GDP under George W. Bush averaged 19.6 percent. Under Obama, spending has ballooned to 24.1 percent of GDP. Much of Bush's spending was temporary (the two wars, one of which Obama expanded). But Obama's spending on new entitlements is permanent and bound to increase over time, further burdening a country already facing an entitlements crisis.
If President Obama really believed that spending "on a credit card" caused our troubles, he wouldn't have spent even more than Bush did, would he? He wouldn't have run up the debt to more than 100 percent of GDP or $16 trillion -- a figure, by the way, that Mr. Obama didn't know when David Letterman asked.
The Bush-did-it excuse also evaporates when you consider that the economy was starting to recover from the 2008 recession by mid-2009. According to Obama Administration figures, real GDP growth reached about 3 percent at the start of 2010. But it began to decline later in the year. What happened in 2010? The two signature initiatives of the Obama presidency were signed into law. Much has been written about the job-depressing consequences of Obamacare, less about the sclerotic effects of Dodd/Frank.
Dodd/Frank was the Democrats' answer to the financial crisis. Written by two men who contributed handsomely to the housing bubble, the law ignored Fannie and Freddie. It was supposed to prevent systemic threats to the financial system and prevent "too big to fail" banks from endangering the economy. Instead, it enshrined "too big to fail" -- which is why Mitt Romney described it as a "big kiss" to Wall Street banks.