MATT WELCH TO BARACK OBAMA: Hey, what about that “net spending cut” you promised back in 2008?
Candidate Obama campaigned every day—and rightly so—against the “fiscal irresponsibility” of the Bush era. “When George Bush came into office, our debt—national debt was around $5 trillion. It’s now over $10 trillion. We’ve almost doubled it,” he complained in his second debate with Republican nominee John McCain. “We have had over the last eight years the biggest increases in deficit spending and national debt in our history.”
As president, Obama tacked on another $5 trillion in debt in record time. In every measure of basic budgetary incompetence, the last three years have dwarfed the previous eight, despite the candidate convincing a majority of voters of his superior credentials as a fiscal steward. United States debt zoomed through the 100-percent-of-GDP threshold around Halloween, and as the Baby Boomers get ready to scoop up their old-age entitlements, there isn’t even a proposed end to the budget leakage in sight.
And it’s not just the size of government, it’s the scope. Obama has given historical leeway to regulators on health care and financial reform, and (like presidents before him) is increasing his influence on executive branch enforcement at a time when his sway over the congressional branch continues to wane. All of which begs a question: If we just finished three years of a cautious and centrist Obama, what in the name of government vigor will the next 12-60 months look like?
By the end, we may see profligate politicians hanging from lampposts. But there’ll be a lot of bad stuff, too. . . .
UPDATE: Reader Robert Crouse emails:
I know the below post was intended to be funny, but it came across (to me) as a little over the line:
“By the end, we may see profligate politicians hanging from lampposts….,”
Well, in an era when the President himself openly threatens bankers with pitchfork-wielding mobs, and jokes about auditing those who disrespect him, it’s hard to know where the line is. Or if there even is a line. Maybe Frances Fox Piven knows.
But all joking aside, if the current profligacy continues, and America winds up in a Greece-style (or worse) collapse, politicians may not wind up hanging from lampposts (we don’t really do that here), but they will at the very least likely face the kind of investigations, prosecutions, and social opprobrium normally reserved for child molesters and Bernie Madoff types. I don’t think they fully appreciate that. If they did, they’d be acting differently.