CBS's Couric Finally Notices Obama's $1.4 Trillion Deficit
Published: 10/17/2009 3:10 PM ET
Back on October 7, when the Congressional Budget Office reported that the federal deficit had ballooned to a massive $1.4 trillion during President Obama's first year on the job, Katie Couric's CBS Evening News did not tell viewers. But Couric finally caught up to the bad news after the Obama White House put out its final numbers on Friday afternoon.
Couric disclosed the news in a brief item on the October 16 Evening News that never mentioned Obama by name: "It's the biggest IOU Uncle Sam has ever written. Government figures out today show for the last fiscal year, which just ended, the United States spent a record 1.4 trillion dollars more than it took in. That's three times more than the year before."
On Saturday, New York Times reporter Jackie Calmes noted that Obama's deficit is much larger as a percentage of GDP than during the 1980s, when Democrats attacked Ronald Reagan's tax cuts as fiscally reckless:
Economists generally agree that annual deficits should not exceed 3 percent of the GDP, and that is the level President Obama had vowed to reach by the end of his first term in 2013.
But subsequent spending and tax cuts to stimulate the economy, and lower-than-expected revenues as the recession deepened before bottoming out, combined to push the administration's deficit forecast to 4.6 percent of GDP for the fiscal year 2013.
At 10 percent of the gross domestic product, the 2009 deficit is the highest since the end of World War II, when it was 21.5 percent. At that level, it already has become a bigger economic and a political issue than any time since the late 1980s.
As to President Obama's vow to slash the deficit by the end of his first term, perhaps more media skepticism would be warranted. The Heritage Foundation produced an illustrative chart last March (before the big health care debate) comparing the deficits under President George W. Bush, which President Obama frequently derides as "the mess" he inherited, and those projected for the next ten years under Obama's policies. It shows Obama's red ink towering over the over-spending of the last eight years.
Of course, if President Obama's solution is to tax the rich, tax health insurance, tax energy and anything else that moves, the deficit may be smaller as a percent of GDP but the government's share of the economy would be much larger, supported by a shrinking private sector.
-Rich Noyes is Research Director at the Media Research Center.