Friday, January 27, 2012

In defense of Obama (allow me to explain)

Let me start out by saying, that feels weird uttering out that title to myself. For those that don’t know me... I’m not a liberal, far from it. For those that do, know I would consider myself a Libertarian and Libertarianism is rooted in logic. Freedom across the board seems to be the "fairest" premise one can have in such an unfair game that is politics. With that said, I see a lot of venom spit at the President in terms of his economic approach that I don’t think is quite fair. Again, before you bitch slap your monitor - allow me to explain.

Much has been made recently about the Presidents accumulation debt. We have seen 5 Trillion added onto the 10 Trillion of national debt since he came into office in January 2009, that's no cheap date. So let there be no doubt that the spending is spiraling out of control going forward.  However, the attempt to put this on one man and his quest to outspend any president in history doesn't make him a Marxist as some would like to believe he is; it makes him a loyal solider. First a very crude and broad history.

A curious thing happened during the early 80's... GDP started to escalate as the country found itself in the midst of an economic growth period unlike anything it has seen in decades. One could point to Nixon ending Bretton Woods in the early 70's as a precursor to this expansion but that is another topic for another day. The reality was the country was booming. However, with that came enormous amounts of debt. So much so that the National debt ballooned from 1 Trillion in 1980 to 4 Trillion by 1988; so this explosion of growth came with a price tag (on a credit card).

Even though the debt was piling up as long as the economy kept building and building like it always has, there would be nothing to worry about. So the federal outlays began to climb and so did the deficits. Bill Clinton had his time to shine as being the only president in four decades to pass a balanced budget, although that was much to do because of the tech boom and the validation and explosion of a new business and platform: the Internet. Then the subsequent NASDAQ crash came in 2000, right when the economy was heading into recession.Ouch.

Then something changed. George Bush Jr was elected and began to rapidly increase spending on new entries to the budget like the Prescription drug plan (entitlements or votes) and Homeland Security (not sure what that still does to this day) while cutting taxes in the midst of a recession. Then we added two wars on two separate fronts and before you knew it we had doubled the debt from roughly 5 to 10 trillion in his eight years and oh yhea, the housing bubble bursts bringing on one of the worst financial calamities since the 30's.  And if that wasn't enough, right before his leaving of office the great recession came and wreaked havoc on our economy on all fronts (except for those at the very top) causing us to pass TARP while most taxpayers getting what amounts to a welfare check of 300-1200 Dollars from the Economic Stimulus Act.

Enter the "O" man. Right out of the gate, Mr Obama pushed through a 780+ Billion dollar stimulus bill which had much of the nation in an uproar based on the preconceived notions upon his entering of office. That stimulus act, like George Bush's before him, had large lump of tax credits worth 250 Billion, so it wasn't all spending parse. President Obama's budgets, although record setting high nominally; were in-line with the last budget of President Bush. The subsequent Obama budgets after his first were (and estimated) to be in the 3.5 to 3.7 Trillion dollar range. President Obama therefore is no bigger of a spender than President Bush if you account for the history seen below.

A large part of the deficit spending has to do with the walloping the middle class took as it affected the receipts. The last three years (2009-2011) receipts were roughly 400 billion lower then they were in all three years before (2006-2008). At the same time the outlays keep increasing. This creates tremendous deficits. But, it wasn’t like Obama came in with a blank check. In fact, Obama's first budget had actually less spending than Bush's last year in office. Obama's final budget is actually only 200 billion more than Bush's final budget (and Bush's biggest to be fair). 

So, if President Obama doubles the national debt, he will just be doing his part to continue the legacy that was put in place before him started in the early 80's by Ronald Regan. This is no disrespect to George Bush nor is this some type of vindication for Mr Obama; its simply setting the record straight. If anything, this points to a bigger problem, regardless of who sits in the oval office and its pretty straight forward. We have too many bills and not enough income. How we bridge this gap, will be the most vital national issue of the next decade. Keynesian economics appears to have reached its saturation point. We either slash spending or we dramatically raise taxes... or invent the internet again.

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