Anyone trying to claim a fiscal equivalence between the Bush era and the Obama era needs to review the latest report from the Congressional Budget Office.
In its recent budget report, the White House forecast budget deficits totaling $8.6 trillion over the next decade. To keep that in perspective, the total public debt held by the end of 2009 — that is, by the end of George W. Bush’s last budget — was $7.5 trillion.
CBO, however, says even that mind-boggling projection is too low. In fact, the nonpartisan budget crunchers estimate, the cumulative deficit from 2010-2020 will be $9.8 trillion. That’s a difference of $1.2 trillion, as illustrated to the left (the graph comes from Greg Mankiw).
How much is $1.2 trillion? It’s roughly the same as the combined deficits of Bush’s first four years in office. And remember, we’re only talking about the “extra” amount of total deficits in the decade to come.
But as bad as a $1.2 trillion underestimate is, here are the numbers to really worry about:
And all of this assumes that there will be no national emergencies over the next 10 years: No terrorist attacks or natural disasters that require extra spending. And it assumes that we will have a decade of uninterrupted economic growth; history suggests that’s unlikely.
We are talking about an expansion of government, the deficit and debt that is an order of magnitude greater than anything we’ve seen before. If you’re one of those people asking why fiscal conservatives are suddenly concerned about the deficit now, and weren’t holding tea parties back when Bush was still in office, this is why.