If there is one person to whom President Trump is determined to prove himself superior, it’s his predecessor in the Oval Office, Barack Obama.
Witness the president’s recent remarks about the raid that resulted in the death of the Islamic State terrorist leader. Trump said the raid was bigger than the 2011 mission during Obama’s presidency that killed Sept. 11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.
The two events are not even close. Whatever evils the Islamic State has committed, it did not hijack four American jetliners and bring down two skyscrapers.
However, there is at least one area in which Trump is proving himself superior to Obama: deficit spending.
The Washington Post reported that the federal government spent $984 billion more than it took in during the 2019 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30. The size of the budget deficit increased by $205 billion from the prior year, and the deficit has increased for four consecutive budget years in spite of strong economic numbers.
In fairness to Trump, Obama presided over larger budget deficits during his first four years in office. With the Great Recession in full force when Obama took over, the 2009 deficit was more than $1.4 trillion. It did not go below $1 trillion until 2013 and never got lower than $475 billion in 2015.
However, it is fair to note that during a recession, government revenue by definition declines. That increases the likelihood of a spending imbalance. Moreover, the Great Recession was so severe that the Obama administration, and the George W. Bush administration before that, opened up the spigots of government spending to keep the economy from going into a depression.
This time around, though, the economy is growing — but so are the deficits.
It’s usually easier to blame a president for a problem like this, but much of the fault lies with Congress, which ultimately decides how much gets spent. Unfortunately, it is now clear that, for all their protestations about how the Obama deficits would lead to the death of the republic, congressional Republicans were either being melodramatic for political purposes or, more likely, they have backed away from balanced-budget efforts because their party’s president isn’t interested.
They all used to be interested, including Trump, who promised during the 2016 campaign that he would eliminate the budget deficit within eight years. Three years into his presidency, he’s nowhere close. In fact, the deficit is 68 percent higher than when he started.
As a developer, Trump knew how to spend other people’s money. He’s doing the same thing as president — with taxpayer money.