Written By: Anton Sawyer
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If the United States were a real person, and the deficit was a real debt owed to, let’s say the Mob, the US would have been wearing concrete sneakers a long time ago.
Without using Google, do you know what the deficit is for the Fiscal Year (FY) ending 2020?
I know that there are going to be many who keep up on such things, but I also know there are approximately 15 million Americans who have no idea at all. How do I know this? Because that’s how many estimated weekly listeners radio host Rush Limbaugh has in an average week. As someone who listens to him regularly for intel on conservative talking points, I know it is a topic he has desperately tried to avoid over the last four years. That by not talking about it, it has no importance or relevance. This is just one of the many layers of omission pertaining to the deficit that is utilized in steering the herd by those with the limelight. Today I’m going to look at how keeping vital information away from the public at large has directly impacted the debt that has been placed on the backs of the average American during this century. First, let’s hop back to Y2K.
During the year 2000 itself, there was much turbulence in the American way of life. There was the Presidential Election that had divided the country even further than the path it was already heading, the dot-com bubble was about to rupture, and Napster was outsmarting the record industry in history defining fashion. Through all of this, there was one thought that everyone could hold on to as their “safe space;” the US deficit was no more. There were many policies that former President Bill Clinton saw through that I was never a fan of. To me, he is not above serious critique. But the fact that with his economic policies we no longer had that weight, it was at least setting up for a brighter future.
Before I get too in-depth with numbers and statistics, keep in mind that I am looking specifically at the deficit at the end of the FY for the last year of each President’s term. Any additional stats will be clearly pointed out.
Because Republicans have long refused to entertain the thought that the stock market crash of 2008 could have any impact on Obama’s numbers, I’m going to treat them with the same dignity and respect. No Covid factors, no stock market crash, NO mitigating factors, just the end number. I have included in the bibliography a link that has the history of the US deficit, along with contributing factors to each economic impact, for those of you who are into minutia.
At the end of the George W. Bush presidency the deficit, FY 2008, was at $459 billion. So how do the supporters of the party that holds the self-given title of “the fiscally responsible” feel about this? Pretty much nothing. And that’s where the omission comes in.
See, at about halfway through 2009, the conservative media began bringing up the deficit in a very consistent manner. It was a stark contrast to when Bush was in office. When Bush was in, it might be mentioned in passing, but never was any kind of focus. When you would watch interviews with people on news shows that were conservative when asked about the deficit, they had no idea what it was. In some rare cases, someone would mention the cost of fighting terror, but most were in the dark.
But when Obama came in, they would only focus on the amount that had been added to the deficit. Every week, there would be a conservative think piece about how Obama was destroying our future with this debt. I’ll give them the point that he did add to the deficit mightily during his first term—peaking at the end of FY 2011 with 1.3 trillion dollars. But having ended the FY 2016 with $585 billion (only 100 billion more than what Bush left with), he was able to pull it in. Of course, if you only listen to conservative media, one would get the sense that your children’s future was to be destroyed by Obama’s policies and they would end up in gulags. In a 2011 interview, Sean Hannity was quoted as saying “This is a cowardly budget. I'm going to tell you why because he didn't—and I think there's a set-up going on here,” about the Obama economic plan. He continued, “The new deficit this year is going to be 1.6 trillion dollars, that is an all-time record. So, in three years since he's been president, he has nearly five trillion in Obama debt. If we project 10 years out, we have $14 trillion in debt.”
I asked above what the deficit is without using Google for a reason. Over the last four years, conservative talk radio has been observing the Bush-era policies and not focused on what ex-President Trump’s addition to the deficit has been. Spoiler alert: it’s not good. At the end of FY 2020, the US deficit is at 3.7 trillion dollars. That’s the end number we’re left with when we let a “non-politician” who “tells it like it is” and should be trusted because they are a “financial genius” run this country. We are now looking at the largest deficit in our history.
I’m guessing that we will start seeing the headlines, and hearing the rallying cries from the Republican base over the deficit, in either six or seven months into Biden’s administration—or when the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) releases the actual impact of Biden’s economic plan and we see what is being added to where. At that point you will hear the conservative pundits begin rallying against the massive "Biden deficit," and of course, millions will believe because they don't know any better.
But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe they’ll let it slide because they have nothing but empathy for anyone and everyone who has been impacted by the added debt Covid-19 has brought and won’t mention anything about the deficit under the Biden administration … NAH!
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