The latest posting by the Treasury Department shows the national debt has now increased $4 trillion on President Obama's watch.
The debt was $10.626 trillion on the day Mr. Obama took office. The latest calculation from Treasury shows the debt has now hit $14.639 trillion.
It's the most rapid increase in the debt under any U.S. president.
The national debt increased $4.9 trillion during the eight-year presidency of George W. Bush. The debt now is rising at a pace to surpass that amount during Mr. Obama's four-year term.
The very next headline I saw was "Spending, not entitlements, created huge deficit" from Byron York at Campaign 2012 who breaks down the 2011 projected deficit, separating the expenses associated with the economic downturn from the specific spending excesses of Obama and the Democrats, showing that half the projected deficit is a "down payment on the Obama domestic agenda."
York starts by showing the stark contrast from 2007 to 2011:
There's no doubt federal spending has exploded in recent years. In fiscal 2007, the last year before things went haywire, the government took in $2.568 trillion in revenues and spent $2.728 trillion, for a deficit of $160 billion. In 2011, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates, the government will take in $2.230 trillion and spend $3.629 trillion, for a deficit of $1.399 trillion.
He goes on to explain how we went from a $160 billion deficit in 2007 to the nearly $1.4 trillion projected for 2011.
But how, precisely, did that happen? Was there a steep rise in entitlement spending? Did everyone suddenly turn 65 and begin collecting Social Security and using Medicare? No: The deficits are largely the result not of entitlements but of an explosion in spending related to the economic downturn and the rise of Democrats to power in Washington. While entitlements must be controlled in the long run, Washington's current spending problem lies elsewhere.
York fairly shows that half of those figures can be directly related to the economic downturn and posits that certain spending would have had to be done whether it was a Democrat or a Republicans in control of the White House.
Then he shows the other half of the problem, and that lies directly at Obama's feet.
That's a deficit increase that would have happened in an economic crisis whether Republicans or Democrats controlled Washington. But it was the specific spending excesses of President Obama and the Democrats that shot the deficit into the stratosphere.
There is no line in the federal budget that says "stimulus," but Obama's massive $814 billion stimulus increased spending in virtually every part of the federal government. "It's spread all through the budget," says former Congressional Budget Office chief Douglas Holtz-Eakin. "It was essentially a down payment on the Obama domestic agenda." Green jobs, infrastructure, health information technology, aid to states -- it's all in there, billions in increased spending.
As for the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP -- it has no specific line in the budget, either, but that is because it was anticipated to pay nearly all of its own cost, which it has.
Spending for Social Security and Medicare did go up in this period -- $162 billion and $119 billion, respectively -- but by incremental and predictable amounts that weren't big problems in previous years. "We're getting older one year at a time, and health care costs grow at 7 or 8 percent a year," says Holtz-Eakin. If Social Security and Medicare were the sole source of the current deficit, it would be a lot smaller than it is.
The bottom line is that with baby boomers aging, entitlements will one day be a major budget problem. But today's deficit crisis is not one of entitlements. It was created by out-of-control spending on everything other than entitlements. The recent debt-ceiling agreement is supposed to put the brakes on that kind of spending, but leaders have so far been maddeningly vague on how they'll do it.
Read the entire piece for actual dollar amounts.
The issues above along with job creation and growth are going to be central to the 2012 elections, presidential and senatorial, and are issues that need to be hammered home, relentlessly.
Obama inherited a troublesome economy but under his hand, his guidance, and his first two years a House and Senate completely controlled by Democrats, that economy spiraled downward in a free fall and Obama would tell you it is simply "bad luck."
American voters should keep an old expression in their minds over the next 15 months:
"Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me."
Then in November 2012, they should vote accordingly.