ANSWERING AL KAMEN

Al Kamen, of the Washington Post, asks an intentionally provocative, but nonetheless interesting, question in his latest piece:  “So whatever happened to the deficit”. 

Here is how it starts:

Notso long ago the federal deficit was projected to destroy the country,our children\’s future and just about everything else. Thepoliticians and media regularly fretted about what to do. Budgetbattles shut down the entire government for a couple weeks.

GOPpresidential candidate Mitt Romney famously traveled about thecountry with his campaign-made “giant, green, glowing debt clock,”our colleague PhilipRucker reported. Romney gestured at it, he bragged about it. A Romney aide told the Wall Street Journal in May 2012 that the clockfocused people on “the most pressing issue right now.”

Howtimes change.

Acount by our colleague Alice Crites illustrates how the issue gainedmedia traction – – especially after the Bush/Obama stimuluspackages to mitigate Bush\’s Great Recession – and how muchit\’s faded from the front pages. (We\’re hearing that reporterswho\’ve had a great run covering this issue are quite glum thesedays.)

Let me help the gloating Mr. Kamen out:

-The deficit this year is projected to be $492 billion dollars. That is higher than any deficit during the entire 8 years George Bush was President.

-During the Bush administration, our average yearly deficit was $231 billion dollars.  Under the Obama administration – assuming the above-mentioned projection is correct – our average deficit has been $1,046 trillion dollars – almost five times as high. 

-The fact that this year\’s deficit may be “down” to $492 billion does not mean President Obama has been successful.  It means he raised the deficit through the stratosphere, and only now is bringing down the additional deficit, which took place under his Presidency, to a point which is still higher than any year of the Bush era.

-The fact that the deficit is not a major story in the news anymore is not because it isn\’t important.  It is because there are so many Obama scandals and so many foreign policy disasters playing out (the IRS scandal, the VA scandal, the flood of illegal aliens he seems determjned to allow to stay in the country, the Benghazi massacre, Russia\’s Ukraine aggression, the Israel-hamas conflict, etc. etc. etc.) that it has been pushed into secondary status.  That doesn\’t mean the deficit isn\’t a big story, it means other stories are, at this time, even bigger.

But keep gloating, Al. I have no doubt there are many, many low-information types who will buy, and love, every word you\’ve written.  They\’ll even buy that neverendingly repeated line about Bush\’s “great recession” – which, in reality, was a relatively minor, 6 month recession, far less severe than the one we had under Jimmy Carter, and which President Obama has not been able to turn around into a strong recovery for 5 1/2 years.

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