Commentary

Obama’s “socialist” budget vs. Reagan’s: Some amazing comparisons

obama2Ronald reaganBob Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is out with a new and, as always, trenchant and fact-heavy take on President Obama’s new budget proposal. Here, however, are two paragraphs that really speak volumes:

“Some critics undoubtedly will castigate the budget for focusing its deficit reduction efforts on the revenue side. But we should keep several facts in mind. First, its $2.9 trillion in deficit reduction for 2017-2026 would come on top of the $4 trillion to $5 trillion in deficit reduction that policymakers have already achieved since 2010, and those savings came heavily on the spending side. With the new Obama proposals, total deficit reduction over this period would fall roughly 50-50 between spending and revenues, OMB estimates.

Also, part of the proposed Obama revenue increases would effectively “pay for” the large year-end tax bill that policymakers enacted in December without offsetting its cost. Under the budget, federal spending would average 22.3 percent of GDP over the coming decade, which isn’t far above the 21.6 percent average of the Reagan years. Moreover, a significantly larger share of Americans is elderly now and receiving Social Security and Medicare than in the Reagan years. In addition, we’ve experienced more than a quarter-century of health care cost growth since the Reagan years, which has boosted the cost of federal health insurance programs, most notably Medicare.”

You got that? Not only has the President made enormous progress in deficit reduction since taking over during a period of economic chaos, the deficit in his latest proposal is essentially on par with those of Reagan years. Indeed, given our aging population and the skyrocketing costs of healthcare in recent decades, its quite arguably more conservative and tightfisted than the ones the country lived under during the presidency of the modern Right’s patron saint.

At a supposedly nonpartisan Locke Foundation event the other day (the one at which the group’s former boss, in truly nonpartisan fashion, lambasted a current candidate for President as a “a charlatan, and just a pathetic, disgusting human being”), a conservative politico attacked President Obama (according to a tweet by a Locke  staffer) for supposedly seeing himself as “the linear heir to continue FDR’s socialist agenda.”

If that’s so, Greenstein’s post makes clear that the “line” ran through Ronald Reagan as well.

2 Comments


  1. Alex

    February 10, 2016 at 9:44 am

    I can usually count on this site for a good laugh, but this article really broke me up. Greenstein’s argument that Obama has done deficit reduction over the last 7 years is almost hilarious. Obama has essentially doubled the deficit in just 7 years going from $10.6 trillion when he took office to almost $20 trillion when he leaves. This doesn’t even include the $4 trillion that was created off the books by the Federal Reserve. All of this came during a slow period that will greatly accelerate in coming years when the demographics kick in. Greenstein has been drinking the Washington kool-aid way too long !

  2. Alan

    February 10, 2016 at 11:13 am

    Needless to say, one of our resident trolls cannot, or will not, cite any supporting data. And by supporting data, I mean from a reputable source, Breitbart or Faux News simply don’t count.

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