News reports about the dismal state of the economy are filled with talk about the growing national debt and deficit spending, and what effect they will have on the upcoming election. In 2008, candidate Barack Obama was quick to criticize President George W. Bush’s spending habits and promised to halve the federal deficit if he took office. But since then, the national debt has gone from roughly $10 trillion under Bush to almost $16 trillion today, according to CBS News. The deficit has gone from about $800 billion (counting the Troubled Asset Relief Program money that has been repaid) under Bush to roughly $1.3 trillion each year under Obama, not including the unfunded liabilities of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Based on information from the Congressional Budget Office, the debt as a percentage of gross domestic product increased by 21 percent under Bush’s two terms in office, while as of October of 2011, Obama had already increased it by 23.5 percent.
Obama has stated, “[Republicans] run up these wild debts and then when we take over, we’ve got to clean it up.” Obviously the president inherited a large deficit, but what is relevant today is what he did with that deficit. His answer was to spend our way out of debt, and billions of dollars later, his position has not swayed.
Obama spent $800 billion on his stimulus package alone, and countless examples of wasteful spending of that money have been reported. The purpose of the stimulus was to create jobs and halt the decline of the economy, but the New Mexico Watchdog reports that the cost of the jobs paid for by the stimulus funds distributed in the state of New Mexico, for example, averaged out to be more than $330,000 per job. In addition, several of the jobs created by the stimulus were temporary jobs, such as those paid for by infrastructure investments.
I believe that the president’s spending record will cost him votes this November for two reasons. First, candidate Obama promised to cut net spending while making investments in certain areas that he considered to be high priorities, such as education (including “college affordability”), healthcare and energy. He has certainly “invested” billions of dollars into these branches of the economy, but any cut has yet to be seen. Secondly, while the spending is blatant, the economic recovery that the president claims is underway is not so obvious. The latest jobless numbers are discouraging; tuition and healthcare costs are still on the rise, and where are the developments in the field of clean energy that we have invested in so heavily? White House Press Secretary Jay Carney can tell us how well these policies are working until his face is blue, but until people see it for themselves, they are not going to believe it. Obama’s supporters just haven’t seen the change they thought they were voting for.
Obama promised transparency, and he has delivered. He has made it perfectly transparent that massive spending and running huge deficits are not the right antidotes to heal an economy that is sick from overspending.
The bottom line is that our hard-earned money is being blown out the window and our generation is being buried in debt. Regardless of how anyone feels about the necessity of the spending spree or the way in which the funds were appropriated, the fact is that it cannot go on forever. The debt will eventually be called in and someone will have to pay.
Anyone interested in writing a column for the Opinions section at the Central Florida Future can contact the Opinions Editor, Kaley LaQuea, at email@example.com.