Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Obama's Debt Increase

I keep running into pronouncements about how much Obama has increased the National Debt. It's as if these people think the President controls all spending.

Of course what they really mean in their confused little brains is how much the National Debt has increased while Obama has been president.

The latest pronouncement I've run into stated confidently that he has added $9 trillion and counting to the National Debt.

Let's take a closer look shall we.

Barack Obama took office in January of 2009 so I suppose it's safe to say that even the dumbest wing nut would concede that he's not responsible for any debt accrued prior to FY 2009. So let's look at the federal deficits between FY 2009 and FY 2015.

FY 2009 - $1.41 trillion
FY 2010 - $1.29 trillion
FY 2011 - $1.30 trillion
FY 2012 - $1.09 trillion
FY 2013 - $0.68 trillion
FY 2014 - $0.48 trillion
FY 2015 - $0.43 trillion

That comes out to $6.68 trillion. Already this is a lot less than $9 trillion.

But let's talk about FY 2009. This was a Bush budget calling for $3.1 trillion in expenditures and had some $240 billion added as a result of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) in late 2008 and $200 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), also known as The Stimulus, in 2009. So Obama is really only accountable for the $200 billion from ARRA.

That makes the total now $5.48 trillion. But let's remember that your starting point is important and the Obama Administration started with a $1.2 trillion dollar deficit and a shrinking economy in the throes of the Great Recession.

But let's continue a bit. The federal budget is divided into two parts. One part is Mandatory Spending, such as Social Security and Medicare, which MUST be spent by law. This is long term stuff that presidents don't control. The other part which changes from year to year is Discretionary Spending.

Mandatory Spending has been increasing at a steady rate since the mid-1980s not only in total amount but in percentage of the federal budget. This is a problem that requires a combined rational approach from both Congress and the president but is sort of beyond the current topic.

During FY 2010 through FY 2015 Mandatory Spending accounted for an average of about 58% of the federal budget. So it's reasonable to say it accounted for 58% of the deficits. That leaves us with $2.30 trillion.

But the Obama Administration also inherited two wars and a military budget of $661 billion including $145 billion allocated to the "War on Terror." This number has since declined to $597 billion in 2015 but still represents about 50% of all discretionary spending so we're now down to about $1.15 trillion over six years or about $200 billion per year in deficits that the man had any control over.

Personally I would have liked to see the deficit come down even faster. A balanced budget by now would have made me a happy man but to try and pin $9 trillion in additional debt on the president is simply nonsense.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Middle East

What an absolute mess. This is the Balkans of the 21st Century.

Now apparently Iran is sending fighters to Syria to join the Russian ones already there. I think we should quietly sneak out while the sneaking is good and duck.

We've got constant war in both Iraq and Syria and that's not to mention the sniping going on between Israel and the Palestinians.

The problem with toppling a dictator, such as we did with Saddam Hussein in Iraq and people are trying to do with Assad in Syria, is if you succeed, somebody or something is going to fill the power vacuum.

Throw in a medieval mentality and a religion with a streak of militant jihad and this is just asking for trouble.

At least it's the countries in the immediate vicinity of ISIS that are taking on the fight. With the shorter supply lines and more at stake one would think they would by more effective.

Send weapons but bring any remaining troops, including aircraft, home already and feed some of the money we save into the economy through middle class tax cuts.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Three Months Later

Almost three months have passed since the Supreme Court made Gay Marriage legal in all 50 states and the echoes of descent are dimming but not quite out.

Yes Kim Davis became a Right Wing Darling for refusing marriage licenses in Kentucky but everyone else has pretty much ignored aberrations like this and moved on.

Which is not to say that some Republican politicians and Right Wing groups aren't attempting to make political capital or cash capital out of the decision by trying to bilk the under 80 IQ trailer park set that represents the Conservative base.

I expect the whining and occasional tantrum to continue for quite but I doubt it will ever have the emotional power of an issue like abortion. I suppose we shall see what we shall see.