WASHINGTON — The Obama administration continues to run up big budget deficits and huge long-term debts that threaten our economic future and put our national security in peril.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released new numbers this week, projecting that this year’s budget deficit alone will be half a trillion dollars more than the U.S. Treasury takes in each year.
That’s far less than the string of record-breaking, trillion dollar-plus budget deficits in President Obama’s first term — in some part due to the automatic sequestration budget cuts that Republicans forced on the administration.
But deficits of that size continue to swell the long-term government debt, held by American and foreign investors, that is approaching three-quarters of our entire economy — the largest debt burden in 64 years.
The CBO forecasts that, if federal spending policies are not changed soon, the government will pile up $7.2 trillion in additional debt in the next 10 years.
Debt held by the public is now expected to reach $12.8 trillion in this fiscal year, which ends in September, and then soar to $26.6 trillion by 2024.
“Debt would be quite high by historical standards and on an upward path relative to the size of the economy, a trend that would impose substantial costs and could not be sustained,” CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf told a group of reporters Wednesday.
This is a fiscal crisis of enormous proportions that will rank as one of the most damaging legacies of Obama’s failed two-term presidency — leaving behind a mountain of debt for future generations to pay off one way or another.
The government dug itself into this hole by spending beyond our means and borrowing heavily to pay the bills when they came due.
One irresponsible spendthrift Congress after another appropriated and authorized bills that hiked spending year after year — ignoring vast sectors of the government that pour billions of dollars into wasteful, needless agencies and programs that are rife with fraud, outright thievery and corruption, and that cry out for reform.
For the last several years, Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the GOP House Budget Committee, has sent one budget-cutting bill after another to the Senate, where Democratic leader Harry Reid pronounces them dead on arrival.
The sequester cuts grew out of this legislative paralysis and forced cuts that would not have otherwise been made. The weak economic recovery, such as it was, boosted tax revenues somewhat, but not anywhere near enough to offset spending levels that remain in hyper-drive.
The result is a debt burden that, unless something is done to change its trajectory, will undermine future capital investment and sandbag economic growth.
We are seeing this happen under this administration: An increasing percentage of the nation’s resources is being gobbled up by a monster debt that threatens to outgrow an economy still stuck in an unusually long recovery period.
The average recession lasts about two years, followed by a swift recovery. The last one that followed the 1981-82 recession was known as a “V”-shaped recovery, when the economy surged out of its lethargy, fueled by the Reagan tax cuts that boosted economic growth and new job creation.
As he nears the end of the sixth year of his presidency, Obama’s still talking about an economy that is somewhere in recovery. And Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen now says full recovery may not come until 2015 at the earliest.
In the Reagan recovery of 1983-84, we saw muscular quarterly economic growth rates of 5.6 percent, 7.7 percent, 8.5 percent, 7.9 percent, 6.9 percent and 5.8 percent.
In its economic projections this week, the CBO significantly lowered its forecast for annual economic growth this year to a dismal 1.5 percent. Other forecasters place it in the 2 percent range at best.
Reagan’s policies also produced strong job growth, which in a single month (September 1983) created more than 1 million jobs — employment growth Obama can only dream about.
The Obama White House keeps boasting that the U.S. unemployment rate is down to 6.2 percent, when much of that is due to millions of adults leaving the labor force because they cannot find good full-time jobs.
Moreover, what many people don’t realize is that the 6.2 percent figure is the average of all 50 states. But 21 states still suffer from high unemployment rates, with 20 states in the 6.5 percent to 8 percent jobless range, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
And many of them are among the most populous states, too, like California (7.4 percent), Michigan (7.7 percent), Illinois (6.8 percent), New York (6.6 percent) and New Jersey (6.5 percent) to name a few.
Nearly a dozen states still have unemployment rates of between 7 and 8 percent. Is this what Obama calls progress on the job front? Or what his supporters call the “new normal”?
But don’t expect Obama to do much, if anything, about this sorry state of affairs in the last couple of years of his administration.
In an embarrassing, blame-shifting presidency that has been one long litany of excuses, Obama says he hasn’t been able to get anything done because the Republicans oppose his ideas to create jobs or raise incomes, which have been largely stagnant under his presidency.
One such idea is raising the minimum wage, which the CBO calculates will eliminate between 500,000 and 1 million jobs.
Yes, we have divided government. But Reagan faced a Democratic Congress that passed his economic agenda with support from both parties because of his leadership skills and his ability to rally the country behind his pro-jobs, pro-growth proposals.
Obama has no legislative leadership skills, nor any concept of what it takes to grow this economy — believing only in an outdated, 1930s-style tax-and-spend ideology that has put us into the mess we’re in now.
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