The press has barely noticed that President Obama has offered a new federal budget. Even in its paucity was a slant to be found. Like an obedient servant, NBC morning anchor Natalie Morales relayed: “President Obama, unveiling a record $4 trillion budget on Monday aimed at helping the poor and middle class. President Obama says the budget is practical, not partisan.”
David Nakamura of The Washington Post began a story on the Obama budget sounding slightly less servile. He described it as “a bet that the country has moved closer to his way of thinking just three months after an election in which both he and his party were roundly rejected by the voters.”
In other words, he sent a moldy packet of Old Fashioned Liberalism to Capitol Hill. To use the old phrase Democrats used in the Reagan years, this budget is going to be “dead on arrival,” precisely because neither the country nor the Congress is moving in his direction.
There are several reasons why the networks won’t spend much time on the budget. First, it has exactly zero visual appeal. They’d rather cover snowstorms, Katy Perry halftime show fashions, and what NBC’s calling “Fifty Shades of Grey Week.”
Second, the budget is sure to be rejected. This is no excuse. With that logic, they could have – should have – ignored Obama’s State of the Union address. But then there’s the political reason. They might have to evaluate Obama’s past statements and the formal record. The president held a nationally televised “Fiscal Responsibility Summit” at the White House on February 23, 2009 and boldly promised “Today, I’m pledging to cut the deficit we inherited by half by the end of our first term in office.”
But he played with the math. He didn’t measure “half” by the last full fiscal-year deficit under President Bush, a record $438 billion in Fiscal 2008. He proposed to cut it in half from its all-time high under the Troubled Assets Relief Program – which he voted for in the Senate.
Under Obama, the deficits set records, from $1.4 trillion in Fiscal 2009, to $1.3 trillion in Fiscal 2010 and Fiscal 2011, to $1.1 trillion in Fiscal 2012. Three years after his pledge, Obama told an Atlanta TV station, “Well, we’re not there because this recession turned out to be a lot deeper than any of us realized.”
Conservative Republicans, always painted by journalists as some sort of wild-eyed fiscal “Kamikazes,” helped set a downward trend, thanks to budget caps that deficit-cutting Obama now calls “mindless austerity.” As Terry Jeffrey of CNSNews.com reported last summer, when Obama took office on January 20, 2009, the total federal debt stood at $10.62 trillion. By the close of business on July 31, 2014, it had risen to $17.68 trillion – up $7.06 trillion.
That is more than the debt increased under all U.S. presidents from George Washington through Bill Clinton combined, and it is more debt than was accumulated in the first 227 years of this nation's existence – from 1776 through 2003.
Now, let’s recall candidate Obama railing against President Bush in 2008: “The way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion for the first 42 presidents, number 43 added $4 trillion by his lonesome. That’s irresponsible. It’s unpatriotic.”
It’s easy to understand why the networks leave this sore subject of Obama’s own debt-accumulating record alone, and leave all the embarrassing video clips undisturbed in the archives.