In May 2009, President Obama released his updated budget estimates, which projected that the federal deficit for fiscal year 2012 would be $557 billion (see table S-1). The Congressional Budget Office now says that the deficit for fiscal year 2012 (which ended on September 30) was about $1.1 trillion — or about twice what Obama said it would be. In other words, Obama’s estimate was off by more than half a trillion dollars.

To put this colossal error into perspective, at the time that Obama was elected, the United States had never once had a deficit as large as Obama’s error would prove to be. Our largest deficit as of November 4, 2008 (the day that Obama beat John McCain) had been $459 billion (see table 1.3). Since 2008, we’ve now run up more than $1 trillion in deficit spending for four consecutive years, totaling more than $5 trillion (see table 1.3).

In fact, deficit spending during the three completed years for which Obama has submitted budgets (2010 through 2012) has exceeded deficit spending during the full 8-year presidency of any previous White House occupant. According to official White House tallies (see table 1.3), the prior record for deficit spending in eight years under a single president was $3.5 trillion (and Obama was responsible for $200 billion of that record tally). The tally for deficit spending in just three years under Obama has been $3.7 trillion. Even if the deficit during the final year for which Obama submitted a budget (2013) were to match his estimate (which, given his track record, hardly seems likely), his deficit-spending tally for four years will be $4.6 trillion — more than 30 percent higher than any prior president’s 8-year tally.

It’s awfully hard to break an eight-year record in just three years and to decimate it in four, and it’s awfully hard to underestimate a deficit by more than $500,000,000,000.00. Obama may have failed to slow the rise of the oceans, but he has certainly succeeded in accelerating our title wave of debt. When it comes to deficit spending, he’s in a league of his own. No one else even comes close.

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