One of the dullest documents the federal government ever published includes information every American needs to know. It is the Congressional Budget Office's analysis of President Barack Obama's new fiscal 2011 budget proposal, and it predicts a massive escalation in government debt that could change our way of life forever.
"They literally crash the U.S. economy, if these kinds of deficits that he's proposing persist," Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee, told me of the deficit numbers the CBO is now projecting as a result of Obama's budget plan.
The CBO released its report a week ago Friday -- a day when Washington politicians often reveal bad news. It analyzed the 10-year trends that would be set in motion by the second annual federal budget drafted by the Obama administration.
These trends are jaw-dropping. During President George W. Bush's eight years in office, federal spending averaged 20.4 percent of gross domestic product, and annual budget deficits averaged 3.4 percent. Under Obama's new proposal, federal spending will average 24.1 percent of GDP over the next decade and annual deficits will average 5.2 percent.
Between 1945, when World War II ended, and 2009, when Obama came to office, the largest annual deficit the U.S. ran in dollar terms was the $458.5 billion deficit that President Bush and a Democrat-controlled Congress ran up in 2008. No deficit in the post-World War II era ever remotely approached a trillion dollars.
Then, in 2009, the federal government ran up a record $1.412 trillion deficit that equaled 9.9 percent of GDP. The politicians who contributed to this deficit -- President Bush, then-Sen. Obama (who supported the bank bailout), the Democrat-controlled Congress (that approved all the spending bills) and newly inaugurated President Obama (who signed a $787 billion stimulus bill during fiscal 2009) -- adopted a Keynesian excuse for their wild spending: The economy was in a recession, and borrowing and spending, they argued, would stimulate the economy.
But now, according to CBO's new report, President Obama and a Democrat-controlled Congress are in the process of running up a $1.5 trillion deficit for fiscal 2010. That equals 10.3 percent of GDP, making this the first year since World War II that the federal government has run a double-digit deficit.