National Debt Increases More Under Three Years of Obama Than Eight of Bush; Politico Ignores Development

CBS's Mark Knoller reported Monday evening at CBSNews.com that "The National Debt has now increased more during President Obama's three years and two months in office than it did during 8 years of the George W. Bush presidency." "The Debt rose $4.899 trillion during the two terms of the Bush presidency. It has now gone up $4.939 trillion since President Obama took office," the veteran White House correspondent noted.

But for all their professed obsession with all things inside the Beltway, Politico failed has so far failed to cover the story (h/t email tipster James Harper). Searches of the Politico website for "national debt" or "Bureau of Public Debt" between March 19 and today yield no hits. By contrast, when then-President-elect Obama was gearing up to take office, Politico was certain to skewer Bush for leaving him a massive national debt.

Writing in "Obama faces uphill economic battle" on the morning of Inauguration Day 2009, Jeanne Cummings gushed that (emphases mine), "Presidents often crave a period of great challenges that can etch their names in history. Barack Obama stands on the precipice of such a time."

She went on to add that, "When sworn in Tuesday as the nation’s 44th president, he’ll inherit the worst economy in the post-World War II era, with no modern model to help steward its recovery."

But have no fear, because Obama is up to the difficult challenge and, what's more, "unlike his predecessors, can’t put off dealing with the dwindling resources for Social Security and Medicare, or else he risks allowing the two policy pillars of the Democratic Party to collapse."

Cummings held out that:

Success in entitlement reform, though, could make Obama’s last job — lowering the deficit — easier.

According to John Dearie of the Financial Services Forum, it took the government 210 years to accrue the amount of external debt that it’s built in the past three months.

Nine days earlier, Politico ran an Associated Press post that excoriated outgoing President Bush for his federal fiscal stewardship:

A look at the ups and downs of George W. Bush's presidency on some of the biggest issues of the day:

Bush inherited a federal budget that had just posted a record $236 billion surplus, but the U.S. government's fiscal picture deteriorated sharply on his watch. The deficit for the recently completed 2008 budget year registered a record $455 billion, and the 2009 deficit is sure to be far worse as slumping revenues, the costs of the fiscal bailout and a huge economic stimulus bill promise to produce a deficit exceeding $1 trillion — the latest estimate is $1.2 trillion.

The flood of red ink has almost doubled the national debt during Bush's tenure in office. The gross debt was $5.8 trillion in 2001, but now registers $10.7 trillion. Interest payments on the debt cost $451 billion in 2008.

The deficit has been fueled by ever-increasing spending, including a wartime defense budget that has doubled since 2001 — from $290 billion to $594 billion in 2008. Overall, the budget has grown from $1.9 trillion in 2001 to $3 trillion in 2008.

Also of note is that while Politico is ignoring how debt under President Obama has outpaced the growth of debt under President Bush, the paper has sharpened its knives for the budget plan presented by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), helping to further the Democrats' meme that it's a "Christmas" gift to Democrats because of the cuts to entitlements it could bring. That's right, the very entitlements that Cummings in January 2009 held out hope that Obama could rein in from devastating ever-ballooning costs:

To Democrats, the release of the House GOP budget is like Christmas in March. And they’re planning a celebration of sorts.

Democrats are organizing media blitzes, House floor speeches and town halls back home to seize on the changes to Medicare that Republicans are expected to propose Tuesday. To blunt GOP talking points that only Republicans are willing to confront the debt, Democrats intend to unveil their own budget next week calling for a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes on the rich.

The Republican budget plan last year was a political winner for Democrats, and party leaders expect nothing less this time around.

“They can run, but they cannot hide from their Medicare plan, which ends the Medicare guarantee at the same time they’re providing big new tax breaks to millionaires and protecting special interest tax loopholes,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) told POLITICO in an interview Monday.

At the heart of the Democrats’ war against the House GOP proposal — spearheaded by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) — is its plan to dramatically reshape Medicare in order to contain costs and keep the health care program for seniors viable. This year’s budget is expected to incorporate a modified version of the Medicare revamp drafted by both Ryan and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) that would allow seniors to keep the traditional Medicare program or enroll in an alternative private plan.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters