Chris Buckley, one of the more prominent conservatives (former conservatives?) to support Barack Obama discovers the president is ringing up one heck of a tab with a $3.6 trillion budget:
“$3.6 trillion budget” can’t be right. The entire national debt is—what—about $11 trillion? He can’t actually be proposing to spend nearly one-third of that in one year, surely. Let me check. Hmm. He did. The Wall Street Journal notes that federal outlays in fiscal 2009 will rise to almost 30 percent of the gross national product. In language that even an innumerate English major such as myself can understand: The US government is now spending annually about one-third of what the entire US economy produces. As George Will would say, “Well.”
But one wonders whether those fiscal conservatives who, along with certain pro-life voters, convinced themselves that Obama really supported their views are now having second thoughts. Really, unless you are going to suspend all critical reasoning skills you have to suspect that Obama and his team are playing fast and loose with the budget. Or as Buckley offers:
Mr. Obama is proposing among everything else $1 trillion in new entitlements, and entitlement programs never go away, or in the oddly poetic bureaucratic jargon, “sunset.” He is proposing $1.4 trillion in new taxes, an appetite for which was largely whetted by the shameful excesses of American CEO corporate culture. And finally, he has proposed $5 trillion in new debt, one-half the total accumulated national debt in all US history. All in one fell swoop.
He tells us that all this is going to work because the economy is going to be growing by 3.2 percent a year from now. Do you believe that? Would you take out a loan based on that? And in the three years following, he predicts that our economy will grow by 4 percent a year.
Were these conservatives duped — and do they now regret their role in launching the greatest spending spree ever? Most aren’t saying, but there must, at least for the self-aware, be some sense that they didn’t get what they thought they would. We won’t know for a while whether these voters would rather pull back on the reins. But by 2010 the horse will be long gone — and with it any pretext of fiscal sobriety.