President Obama posed as a fiscal conservative Monday when he hosted a "fiscal responsibility summit."
Close inspection reveals that what he is actually proposing, however, is a massive increase in government debt -- thus raising the already unsustainable burden of government that is certain to fall on our children unless the welfare state is somehow curtailed.
In the first seven fiscal years overseen by the high-spending President Bush, the annual federal budget deficits were truly obscene. Yet, they never exceeded $500 billion.
In fiscal 2002 through 2008, according to the historical tables published by the Office of Management and Budget last fall, the annual deficits were $157.7 billion, $377.5 billion, $412.7 billion, $318.3 billion, $248.1 billion, $162 billion and $410 billion. (The Congressional Budget Office has since calculated that the fiscal 2008 deficit actually ended up being $454.8 billion.)
President Obama said Monday that his "administration has inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit" for fiscal 2009.
The extraordinary size of that deficit is due, of course, to what one would have hoped were passing circumstances and one-time policies: a recession, a $700 billion bailout of the banking industry and that part of the $787 billion "stimulus" President Obama signed last week that will actually be spent in this fiscal year.
"And that's why today I'm pledging to cut the deficit we inherited in half by the end of my first term in office," President Obama said at his summit.
But what does that mean? The administration says President Obama's promise to "cut the deficit we inherited in half" means he will reduce it from $1.3 trillion in fiscal 2009 to $533 billion in fiscal 2013.
This $533 billion deficit -- that President Obama vows will be the lowest annual deficit he runs in any of the next four years -- is larger than any deficit the profligate President Bush ran before this recessionary year.
In fact, President Obama's planned $533 billion deficit for fiscal 2013 is more than twice as large as the $248.1 billion deficit Bush ran in 2006 and more than three times as large as the $162 billion deficit Bush ran in 2007.
In other words, President Obama is planning to permanently increase the scale of government borrowing -- even before we are hit by the fiscal tidal wave that will come when the bulk of the baby boom generation retires and begins collecting Social Security and Medicare benefits.