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Monday, February 13, 2012

Remembering 2006 - When $296 billion was a lot of money

Later today as President Obama submits a budget that will show a 4th consecutive year of $1 trillion plus deficts, it's helpful to put that into perspective.  Here is how ThinkProgress described President GW Bush's 2006 budget with a projected deficit of $296 billion:
Today, the Office of Management Budget projected a $296 billion federal deficit for fiscal year 2006. Bush held a press conference arguing that this is a vindication of his economic policies.
Actually, it would be the fourth largest deficit of all time. Here’s the top five:
1. 2004 (George W. Bush) $413 billion
2. 2003 (George W. Bush) $378 billion
3. 2005 (George W. Bush) $318 billion
4. 2006 (George W. Bush) $296 billion (projected)
5. 1992 (George H. W. Bush) $290 billion
In other words, Bush's 2006 budget (the last with a Republican majority) was not only on a downward trend over several years, but was similar to a budget deficit from 14 years prior. 

I will not be the first to defend Bush from the charge of being a big spender.  But despite the terrorists attacks and already burgeoning recession in 2001, policies were in place to bring spending under some modicum of control.  The following years of the Bush Presidency saw a democratic Congress, so the outlying years naturally told a different story even though it topped out at just under $500 billion.

What Obama proposes today will not be the actual budget that passes Congress.  Thankfully we now have a Republican Congress and a real hope of bringing the annual budget back under the $1 trillion mark.  But wouldn't it be nice if we could all be complaining about a record Obama deficit that was at least similar to any. other. President. we've. ever. had.  

Perhaps with a leader who actually cares about such things, we might even have a democrat-controlled Senate that would actually pass a budget - something that hasn't happened in three years.  Perhaps if the President could simply understand that free doesn't really mean free, we wouldn't have so many new "free" programs and mandates.  Perhaps if the President understood that the axiom "you have to spend money to make money" only works in the private sector.  Perhaps if the President wasn't too busy transforming America into something unrecognizable, he might notice we are in a perilous position.  Perhaps if the President cared about America as he does about himself.....well, nevermind.

UPDATE:  The budget has been released.  For an early analysis check out Veronique du Rugy's post on NRO's The Corner.

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