Editorial manufactures spending crisis

As a matter of clarification regarding some of the statements made in the editorial Feb. 8 about the national debt being a crisis: The statement that the national debt grew by $5.3 trillion during President Barack Obama’s first term is false. It grew by about $1 trillion as a result of the stimulus package.

When Obama took office, the economy was in freefall, banks had just been bailed out and were still seized up and jobs were shedding at a rate of about 750,000 a month. The stimulus package was enacted to stop the hemorrhaging of jobs and put a floor under the freefall. It worked; without it, we would have risked a full-blown worldwide depression that could have been worse than the Depression of 1929. That downturn gave us the rise of fascism and World War II. Today, there are a lot more people in the world who could starve and become violent. During his first term, Obama put the cost of the two Bush wars on the book (about $4 trillion). Prior to that, the money was not part of the deficit.

When President George W. Bush took office, the federal government had an annual $86 billion surplus; when he left, it was a $642 billion deficit. In 2009, the deficit grew mostly as a result of the recession. Government revenues were down due to high unemployment and costs were up because people needed services like unemployment insurance and food stamps. Between 2008 and ’09, the deficit doubled. Trends of lavish spending on wars for profit and tax cuts heavily tilted to benefit the top brackets that caused the deficit are now ending despite obstruction from congressional Republicans, whose only answer to everything is to cut taxes and spending.

For the fiscal year ending in 2009, the deficit was 10.1 percent of gross domestic product. In 2010, it was 9 percent of GDP. In 2011, it was 8.7 percent of GDP, and in 2012, it was 7 percent of GDP. We should strive to get it down to about 3 percent of GDP.

The statement that “Analysts expect his second term to add at least $2.8 trillion to” the deficit is meaningless. Who are the analysts and what’s their motive? The Republicans have lost the ability to think critically on major issues like climate change, the deficit, tax fairness and even evolution. As a result, they have to manufacture crisis and fear.

That’s what you are doing with the editorial “Spending issue a crisis.”