Obama’s Late Night Budget Bluster
5:30 PM, Sep 19, 2012 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
In an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman, President Barack Obama suggested that most of the country’s debt was accumulated under George W. Bush, pretended that he has offered a solution to these problems, said that he does not know the total U.S. national debt, and claimed that the debt is not a short-term concern for the country.
It was one of the most dishonest performances from this president in recent memory, and yet it has generated virtually no attention from a mainstream media.
The conversation started when Letterman told the president that he’d watched the Republican National Convention and was taken by the debt clock spinning the convention hall.
This is highly misleading. Letterman asked about the debt clock and Obama responded by talking about annual deficits. The effect, of course, is to allow viewers to conclude that all of the debt on the debt clock was accrued after Clinton – and because of the policies of George W. Bush. Clinton certainly deserves some credit for the surpluses, but the debt when Clinton left office was $5.7 trillion. It’s worth noting that Obama supported one of those two wars, has extended many of those tax cuts, and has proposed to provide health care well beyond the costly prescription drug plan – all without finding ways to pay for it.
There are several problems with this passage. Which programs “don’t work”? And given that he’s been president for nearly four years, why haven’t they been eliminated? The budget presented by the president in 2012 never balances – it never comes close. After his budget proposal was roundly criticized as unserious last winter, Obama took another shot with a big economic speech in June. It didn’t work.
Dana Milbank, the acerbic liberal columnist for the Washington Post, wrote on June 14, 2012, under the headline: “Skip the falsehoods, Mr. President, and give us a plan.” Milbank called Obama’s do-over speech “a falsehood wrapped in a fallacy. The falsehood is that he has been serious about cutting government spending. The fallacy is that this election will be some sort of referendum that will break the logjam in Washington.” Obama, Milbank continued, “has made no serious proposal to fix the runaway entitlement programs that threaten to swamp the government’s finances.” Milbank criticized the plans offered by Republicans but acknowledged that they have at least presented one. “Nothing in Obama’s speech came close to a proposal to fix the debt problem.”