If there is one person to whom President Trump is determined to prove himself superior, it’s his predecessor in the Oval Office, Barack Obama.
Witness the president’s remarks last weekend about the raid that resulted in the death of the Islamic State terrorist leader. Trump said the raid was bigger than the 2011 mission during Obama’s presidency that killed Sept. 11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.
The two events are not even close. Whatever evils the Islamic State has committed, it did not hijack four American jetliners and bring down two skyscrapers.
However, there is another area, greatly ignored by most people, where Trump is proving himself clearly superior to Obama: Excessive government spending.
The Washington Post reported that the federal government spent $984 billion more than it took in during the 2019 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30. The size of the budget deficit increased by $205 billion from the prior year, and the deficit has increased for four consecutive budget years in spite of strong economic numbers.
In fairness to Trump, Obama presided over larger budget deficits during his first four years in office. With the Great Recession in full force when he took office, the 2009 deficit was more than $1.4 trillion. It did not go below $1 trillion until 2013 and never got lower than $475 billion in 2015.
However, it is more than fair to note that during a recession, especially one as severe as 2009’s was, government revenue by definition declines. That increases the likelihood of a spending imbalance. This time around, the economy is growing — but so are the deficits.
It’s usually easier to blame a president for a problem like this, but much of the fault lies with Congress. After all, the legislative branch decides how much money gets spent.
Unfortunately, it is now clear that, for all their protestations about how the Obama deficits would lead to the death of the republic, congressional Republicans were either being melodramatic for political purposes or, more likely, they have backed away from balanced-budget efforts because Trump isn’t interested.
They all used to be interested, and Trump naturally left records to that effect. In 2013, as a private citizen, he tweeted that “Obama is the most profligate deficit & debt spender in our nation’s history.”
When Trump sent out that tweet, the government’s budget debt totalled $16.7 trillion. It’s now more than $22 trillion, with roughly $2.3 trillion of that increase coming in the three budget years that ended while Trump was president. If economists are correct in forecasting trillion-dollar deficits for several years, Trump is well on his way to topping Obama.
The Post said Trump wants to focus on cost-cutting if he is re-elected. But take that with a grain of salt. As a developer, he knew how to spend other people’s money. He’s doing the same thing as president — with taxpayer money.