Cato: Don’t Blame Obama for Bush’s 2009 Deficit

Republicans like to claim that Obama “tripled the deficit” and point to the huge 2009 budget deficit. They use charts that show the 2009 deficit was, indeed, huge and about triple the prior year’s borrowing. But the 2009 budget was the last year of BUSH budgets.
When you look at charts or hear descriptions from Republicans, they always say that this was Obama’s deficit. This is just propaganda- lies intended to deceive. For example, when Obama spoke at the Republican caucus retreat yesterday, GOP Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas said that Obama had “tripled the deficit.” A CNN fact check addresses this,

Obama was essentially correct when he said he inherited a budget deficit of $1.3 trillion. Though the budget deficit for 2008 was a then-record $458.6 billion, the CBO issued a projection in January 2009, just days before Obama took office that the budget deficit would reach $1.2 trillion that year, before the cost of any new stimulus plan or other legislation was taken into account.

So again, Republican claims that Obama has somehow increased the deficit are just lies intended to trick people. This massive increase that was reported after the fiscal year ended Sept. 20 occurred under Bush.
Don’t believe me? See the conservative Cato Institute on this: Don’t Blame Obama for Bush’s 2009 Deficit | Cato @ Liberty,

Listening to a talk radio program yesterday, the host asserted that Obama tripled the budget deficit in his first year. This assertion is understandable, since the deficit jumped from about $450 billion in 2008 to $1.4 trillion in 2009. As this chart illustrates, with the Bush years in green, it appears as if Obama’s policies have led to an explosion of debt.
[chart]
. . . But there is one rather important detail that makes a big difference. The chart is based on the assumption that the current administration should be blamed for the 2009 fiscal year. While this makes sense to a casual observer, it is largely untrue. The 2009 fiscal year began October 1, 2008, nearly four months before Obama took office. The budget for the entire fiscal year was largely set in place while Bush was in the White House.
[corrected chart]

Please click through to see the charts. And then look at Cato: Who’s To Blame for the Massive Deficit? for an even better explanation,

What about the so-called stimulus, they will ask, with its $787 billion price tag? Or the omnibus fiscal-year 2009 appropriations bill? And how about Cash for Clunkers and Obama’s expansion of the children’s health insurance program? Didn’t these all boost spending in 2009?
The answer is yes. But these boondoggles amounted to just a tiny percentage of FY2009 spending — about $140 billion out of a $3.5 trillion budget — as the pie chart nearby illustrates.

Here are some examples of how this propaganda is applied. keep in mind as you read these and look at the charts that the 2009 budget was Bush’s last budget, and began before Obama even took office.
Heritage Foundation: Bush Deficit vs. Obama Deficit in Pictures. Look at how the chart tricks you into think that 2009 is an Obama budget year.
Here is Heritage directly labeling the 2009 budget as Obama’s in a chart.
Here is a similar use of deception in charts, by right-wing blogs.
More: Federal budget triples under Obama – yes TRIPLES, and After Tripling The Deficit, Obama To Try And Create Jobs With More Government Spending, and Obamanomics: Deficit Tripled in One Year
Fox News: Obama Triples Budget Deficit to $1.4 Trillion (they have since changed the headline but here is it as it appeared:) fox nation clip
Here’s a good one, using a Heritage propaganda chart: Obama’s Tripling of the National Debt in Pictures
The right’s noise maching is good, though, there are 18,200 websites listed if you search for “obama tripled the deficit” in quotes, another 1,790 searching for “Obama triples deficit” in quotes

4 thoughts on “Cato: Don’t Blame Obama for Bush’s 2009 Deficit

  1. Congress only passed 3 of the 15 appropriations bills in fy 2009. Bush had threatened to veto the others over the spending levels, so they did a continuing funding bill for them at 2008 levels that covered until March 2009. In February, as I recall, Obama signed an omnibus bill covering the other 12 appropriations bills.
    You can search on the web or in news archives to find out the details.

  2. Congress only passed 3 of the 15 appropriations bills in 2009. Bush had threatened to veto the others over the spending levels, so they did a continuing funding bill for them at 2008 levels that covered until March 2009. In February, as I recall, Obama signed an omnibus bill covering the other 12 appropriations bills.

  3. The Dems controlled Congress after the 2006 elections. Congress creates and passes spending bills, not the President. Obama voted yes on all the spending. Bush should have vetoed the spending but the Dem Congress created it. If you look at the budget deficits after the Bush tax cut the deficits went down sequentially until 2007, when the Dems took over. Bush did lend $700 billion to banks but most of that has been paid back, with interest. The $700 billion was part of the deficit but was not spending like the porkulus bill that Congress passed in 2009. The porkulus stimulus bill will not be paid back so adds to the deficit. The bank bailout was paid back and lowers the deficit and national debt, unless the Dems with to violate the law and use the money for more “stimulus”.

  4. Thanks for posting this.
    I’m tired of the republican lies about the deficit. They’ve made a concerted effort to made “spending” or “obama’s massive spending” when in reality they are far more responsible for our huge deficit than the current president is.
    Republican liars make me ill.
    Americans falling for it is sad.

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