Dan Mitchell from DC recently graced our shores with appearances at One Nation and Libertyworks in Brisbane and The Outsiders in Sydney followed by lunch and photo opportunities at Middle Head and then off to New Zealand.
He has studied the spending records of presidents from LBJ and Nixon to the Bush family and Barack Obama. The results are interesting and possibly surprising. Congress stood in the way of Obama’s spending for most of his time and so he ends up looking better than several others on that score. Not a big plus in his favour of course.
It is important to recognize that Obama did not stop trying to expand government after 2010. The president’s eight annual budget requests gradually upped their 10-year revenue demands from $1.3 trillion to $3.4 trillion, while proposing an average of $1.0 trillion in new program spending over the next decade. His play, in short, was to gradually trim the budget deficit by chasing large spending increases with even larger tax increases. The Republican Congress stopped him. My assessment: Obama’s most important fiscal legacy was a sin of omission. Despite promising to confront Social Security and Medicare’s unsustainable deficits, the president refused to endorse any plan that would come close to achieving solvency. This surrendered eight crucial years of baby-boomer retirements while costs accelerated. With baby boomers retiring and a national debt projected to exceed $90 trillion within 30 years, this was no small surrender.