The GOP, Fox News and AM Hate Radio regularly complain that Obama has raised the deficit. This is a lie. A very VERY big lie. It’s such a big lie and so easy to prove as a big lie that the fact 90% of the country thinks it’s true is one the greatest failures of the “liberal” media since they couldn’t be bothered to vet the Iraq War. The problem is that conservatives don’t want to know, independents can’t be bothered to look and liberals should be deeply ashamed for not knowing.
But worry not! It’s very VERY easy to clear up this misperception (and piss off conservatives to boot!) in just 4 simple steps.
Step One: Establish the facts of what the deficit is and how it works – Ask the conservative, uninformed “independent” or naughty liberal if they understand that the deficit is not the same as the debt. This is super important because the right has gone VERY far out of its way to confuse the two. And for good reason; the debt has never been higher. This is inevitable since we still have a deficit. The debt is a byproduct of the deficit. The only way to pay down the debt is to turn the deficit into a surplus.
The deficit is how much more we spend than we collect in revenue (taxes, etc.). The debt is how much we owe. The deficit is the credit card, the debt is the bill. A bill that the right wants to pin completely on Obama as if we didn’t have a penny of debt until he took office instead of having been built by almost a century of deficit spending by both Republican and Democratic presidents (but mostly Republican).
Do not proceed until these basic definitions are agreed upon or the conservative will attempt to weasel out of the hole you are digging for them by whining about how Obama increased the debt. If they try, mention that every president except Clinton has done that since World War II, why should Obama be singled out? When they invariably say “Because he’s gone higher than any president ever has!” The same was true of Bush at the time and no one on the right seemed upset about it. Ask them to explain why that is or to drop it and move on. Chances are they’ll drop it.
Step Two: Establish when the budget is passed – This is another deliberate lie the right LOVES to pass around. They would very much like you to believe that the 2009 budget with its record shattering $1.4 Trillion deficit was Obama’s. The reality is that budgets are passed and signed into law at the end of the year before. So the 2000 budget was signed into law by President Clinton and President Bush was stuck with it. In 2017, whoever takes the White House will have a budget signed into law in 2016 by the outgoing President Obama. Therefor, the 2009 budget was not “Obama’s,” it was Bush’s. If you need to prove this definitively, share this link to the CATO Institute. The CATO Institute is a respected but undeniably right-wing thing tank. The opening paragraph in their “About Us” section says: “The Cato Institute is a public policy research organization — a think tank – dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace.” No one in their right mind can argue the CATO Institute is “liberal.” Yet they clearly state that the 2009 budget does not belong to Obama.
Step 3: Establish what the 2009 deficit was – This will be a little tricky because at this point the conservative you’re talking to will be getting VERY uncomfortable with the conversation. They will try to turn the discussion to ANYTHING else at this point. Why? Because it is a tenet of faith among the right that the 2009 budget was $1.4 Trillion and it was all Obama’s fault. Here’s a link to Fox News that should freeze them in their tracks. The relevant part:
“The federal budget deficit tripled to a record $1.4 trillion for the 2009 fiscal year that ended last week, congressional analysts said Wednesday. – Published October 7 2009
The House and the Senate voted to pass the 2009 budget on June 4-5, 2008. President Bush signed off on all of it. Conservatives will try to blame the Democratic held Senate and House for the deficit but they can’t have it both ways. Either the president is responsible for the budget or he’s not. You can’t blame Obama while holding Bush blameless.
If you want to be a helpful wise ass, remind the person you’re talking to that Obama was elected in November and didn’t take office until January 21. That’s almost a full four months after the 2009 fiscal year, with its 2009 budget, started.
Step 4: What is the deficit now? – That’s easy. Go to the CBO’s page and look. the Congressional Budget Office is nonpartisan. They have to be, anyone can check their math and partisan games would be outed immediately. So here it is. Ready?
If the current laws that govern federal taxes and spending do not change, the budget deficit will shrink this year to $845 billion, or 5.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), its smallest size since 2008.
Is $845 Billion more or less than $1.4 Trillion? At this point, a conservative will be spitting nails or will have stopped talking to you several minutes ago. An independent voter should be trying to figure out how they could have been so completely wrong. A liberal should be deeply embarrassed they didn’t know.
Just so we’re all on the same page here. Obama knocked $555 BILLION off of the deficit. That’s an entire third of the total deficit. That’s more than every president in the history of the country put together. Republicans have been screeching for deficit cuts like demented harpies for years (except when a Republican is in office). If a Republican president did this, the Tea Party would be holding parades for him. Obama did it and 90% of the country doesn’t even know it. The GOP has them convinced the deficit is still going up.
Ignorance is the GOP’s best weapon. Knowledge is ours.