Cooking the books

Ezra Klein ponders how much of the $4.7 billion increase in US debt can actually be attributed to Obama, rather than say on ongoing policies from the Bush era. (i.e.Let’s blame Bush for Obama’s deficit instead.)

The entire concept is a misnomer of course because Bush inherited laws from Clinton who inherited laws from Bush Snr etc. etc…

Aside from that is this little gem.

When Obama entered office, the Bush tax cuts were already in place and two wars were ongoing. Is it fair to blame Obama for war costs four months after he was inaugurated…?

Yes, it is actually. Obama was inaugruated on the 20th of January, 2009.

And here’s a CNN news item dated February 17th, 2009 – not even a full month later.

President Barack Obama has approved a significant troop increase for Afghanistan, Pentagon officials said Tuesday.

Ezra should quit playing tricksies. When Obama entered office, the debt was $10.5 trillion. Now it’s jumped around 50% in just three short years and stands at $15.2 trillion.

And Obama had a Democrat Congress on his side for two years after being elected! So no blaming the Rublicans/Bush there, either.

Serious. Click the main link in this post again if you haven’t already. What a load of gobbledygook. The former employees at Arthur Anderson would be proud.

Maybe Ezra should blame Tony Abbott… 😛


Via reader JM Heinrichs, Keith Hennessey responds to Klein’s gobbldygook flow chart and frankly, blows it out of the water.

  1. Actually, the two wars were initiated with undeclared and unbudgeted funding to the defense dept. When Obama came in, they said we will no longer conduct the war off budget. Hmm, suddenly everyone got so upset because we had to actually pay for our little wars in the context of a global and national economic meltdown.

    I think Klein should have asked, is it fair to blame Obama for the cost of the wars?

    Secondly, did you want to get Bin Laden or not? I think the surge was successful overall. I don’t remember republicans arguing in congress against the afghan surge in 2009. They certainly could have filibustered if they had a problem with it.

    • On your first point, I’m not saying you’re wrong but I hadn’t heard that before. Got a link?

      On your third point, most Righties love Obama for upping the anti on the WOT and indeed nailing Bin Laden (however real credit for OSM lays with the Intelligence community and the military, not Obama per se.

      Also on that third point, why did the liberal media constantly deride Bush as a warmonger and yet when Obama increased the war effort, they fell silent on that note? Seems a tad hypocritical, no?

      Oh, and welcome.

    • PS Three years of the WOT under Obama cost $4-odd trillion?

    • J.M. Heinrichs
    • February 2nd, 2012

    1. Keep in mind that Mr Bush had to work with a Democrat Congress after Jan 2007.
    2. Mr Bush consulted with Obambi after the Finances when tits up.
    3. Getting Bin Laden took 16 hours and an overnighter; Obambi does not rush things.
    $. Ezra Klein is not competent in the Adult sense of the word.


    • Re 1. Indeed.
      Re 2. Ditto.
      Re 3. Will leave that one.
      Re 4. It did seem a bit easy; nothing like trying to match it with the posters and commenters at Catallaxy (where a lot of Tim Blair’s old regulars have migrated to).

  2. The Year – 2052 – Election year! Democrat Obama Abi Sallad campaigns on a platform of “We would not be in the mess if it were not for W Bush!”.

    Some things never change. As long as it appears to work, they will continue to do it. I have seen some people trippling the cost of the war in Iraq to satisfy their shirking of responsibility. But even the most gross estimates still put the cost of the war far below the deficits rung up.

    • J.M. Heinrichs
    • February 3rd, 2012

    And then this:


    • Brilliant, JM!

  3. The title to this post is totally ironic given the history of stuff off the books.

    You think invading another country might add to our debt? Nah said GWBush, we’ll do it on this emergency credit declaration by congress and keep it off the books…

  4. Thanks for the links.

    Ok, it was “off the books.” That said…

    According to the Congressional Budget Office, a non-partisan body set up by the US Congress, the war and occupation of Iraq by 130,000 US troops costs about $4bn-5bn (£2.2bn-2.7bn) per month, or $48bn-60bn per year.

    With the war starting about 9 years ago and at $60 bn a year tops, we’re talking about $500 bn. Add Afghanistan to that and we’re (back of the envelope) talking around a trillion dollars.

    A trillion dollars over nine years… three of those years, a third, under the Obama administration.

    That’s far short of the $5 tr Obama has racked up in three years.

    The wars account for around a $100 bn a year yet Obama is racking up around 15 times that amount in the same time.

    Can’t blame the wars.

    Now sure, it’s not all Obama’s fault, the US government is a machine, but it’s a pretty weak argument trying to pin blame for the deficit on Bush and/or “his” wars.

    • The “official” line on the cost of both theaters of the war (not 2 wars) is $1.29t. So a little higher than the CBO back of the envelope, but still far short of the deficits of Obama.

      • both theaters of the war (not 2 wars)

        Indeed: an important distiction. Cheers.

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