At one point in his speech last night, President Obama tried to remind his listeners that many of the problems facing the nation had been inherited from his predecessor:
“By the time I took office, we had a one year deficit of over $1 trillion and projected deficits of $8 trillion over the next decade. Most of this was the result of not paying for two wars, two tax cuts, and an expensive prescription drug program. On top of that, the effects of the recession put a $3 trillion hole in our budget. All this was before I walked in the door.”
At which point, Sen. John McCain was seen turning to his seatmate Lindsey Graham and whispering “Blame it on Bush.”
It’s a point others have made as well. In a recent news story, for example, Fox News suggested that “one year into his administration, President Obama might want to consider dropping the ‘blame Bush’ page from his playbook.”
Before Obama’s speech, Bill O’Reilly and Dennis Miller were also joking about it. “Now, how many times do you think he’s going to blame Bush tonight?” O’Reilly asked. “I’m taking a little lottery here. You know, how many times do you think we’re going to have, “Well, we inherited this from that idiot, you know? What are we going to do?”
“My feeling is, you know, when he comes up that aisle at the beginning, he’ll be wearing a sandwich board that says, ‘Bush’s Fault’,” Miller said. “He’s not even going to wait until he gets to the mic.”
A few years back, though, another new president made his own first State of the Union speech under economic conditions somewhat similar to that of today. Here’s part of what that president said:
“To understand the State of the Union, we must look not only at where we are and where we’re going but where we’ve been. The situation at this time last year was truly ominous…
Late in 1981, we sank into the present recession largely because continued high interest rates hurt the auto industry and construction. And there was a drop in productivity and the already high unemployment increased…..
If we had not acted as we did, things would be far worse for all Americans than they are today. Inflation inflation, taxes and interest rates would all be higher. A year ago, Americans’ faith in their governmental process was steadily declining. Six out of ten Americans were saying they were pessimistic about their future…,
… The budget in place when I took office had been projected as balanced. It turned out to have one of the biggest deficits in history.
A new kind of defeatism was heard. Some said our domestic problems were uncontrollable that we had to learn to live with the-seemingly endless cycle of high inflation and high unemployment.
…. Our current problems are not the product of the recovery program that’s only just now getting under way, as some would have you believe; they are the inheritance of decades of tax and tax, and spend and spend.”