At his press conference this week, President Obama made it seem as though the job of getting the government's deficits under control is nearly done.
"The consensus is we need about $4 trillion to stabilize our debt and our deficit," he told reporters, "which means we need about $1.5 trillion more."Obama claimed to have already cut spending $1.4 trillion, and this, combined with $600 billion in tax hikes he got as part of his fiscal cliff deal plus interest savings, "adds up to a total of $2.5 trillion."
Obama's Bowles-Simpson debt commission, for example, said in its final report — issued in late 2010 — that a credible $4 trillion deficit reduction plan would produce red ink of just $279 billion in 2020. But the current budget trajectory puts that year's deficit at close to $600 billion, according to Congressional Budget Office data.Proving that while you may not be able to fool all the people all of the time, you can fool enough willing dupes for at least four years.
Meanwhile, the commission plan called for national debt to be 65% of GDP by 2020, but the current CBO forecast has it at about 75%. Worse, while the debt commission plan produced a balanced budget by 2035, the CBO predicts that under current law annual deficits will start climbing again after 2018. All told, federal deficits will need to be cut at least another $2.5 trillion over the next decade to reach the debt commission targets.
Nor did the commission think that achieving real deficit reduction would be as simple as Obama makes it seem. The nation, the commission said in its final report, "is on an unsustainable fiscal path" and "even after the economy recovers, federal spending is projected to increase faster than revenues."
"There is," the commission said, "no easy way out of our debt problem."