Commentary Magazine


We’re Out of Accountability

In a CSPAN interview the president says:

Well, we are out of money now. We are operating in deep deficits, not caused by any decisions we’ve made on health care so far. This is a consequence of the crisis that we’ve seen and in fact our failure to make some good decisions on health care over the last several decades.

So we’ve got a short-term problem, which is we had to spend a lot of money to salvage our financial system, we had to deal with the auto companies, a huge recession which drains tax revenue at the same time it’s putting more pressure on governments to provide unemployment insurance or make sure that food stamps are available for people who have been laid off.

We’re not in this fix because of any healthcare decisions he’s made — “so far,” mind you. But what is remarkable is the lack of personal responsibility for our current sea of red ink. No mention of the trillion dollar stimulus or the $3.5 trillion budget. And in the same breath in which he denies running up the deficit he mentions the car bailouts which he “had” to deal with. Actually, it wasn’t necessary; it was a policy choice which now has the ailing car companies permanently affixed to the public dole.

It is hard to ignore how passive he sounds — ever the victim of circumstances. That darn Bush left a mess on national security. And what’s a guy to do with such a deficit left on his doorstep? But the facts tell a different story, as this chart illustrates. To a greater degree than any predecessor, Obama has run up the deficit — with little to show for it.

Blaming the previous administration is a time-honored political trick. But voters tend to hold the party in power responsible for the state of the country’s finances. That’s how the Republicans lost the White House and I suspect the public will be no less forgiving in 2010 or 2012 if things don’t turn around.