Budget deficits not Obama's fault

Before the President took office, fiscal conditions had deteriorated to the point that what was a projected surplus in 2012 was now a deficit.

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    This chart shows the vast difference in budget projections between 2008 and 2009. Source: 2008 and 2009 CBO Budget projections.
    Jared Bernstein/CBO
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Jon Chait has a piece up today, amplified by Paul K, wherein he justly criticizes a piece of extremely sloppy “analysis” blaming recent budget deficits on President Obama.   The author’s evidence for this phony claim is that in Jan 2008, CBO projected surpluses by 2012.  Since we will in fact have deficits in 2012, and Obama entered the scene in the interim, it’s got to be all his fault.

Jon points out all the caveats that CBO themselves introduced into their budget projection, especially the parts about how a bad recession would flip this surplus to a deficit.  Such caveats are, however, ignored by those looking to tarnish the President regardless of the facts.

But you don’t have to rest on CBOs caveats alone.  You can look at the budget projections they released a year later, in Jan 2009, the month the President took office, and hadn’t yet had a chance to work his socialist, Kenyan, deficit-inducing evil magic. 

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As the figure shows, by Jan09 the CBO had concluded that conditions were worse than they’d thought and–before the President took office–fiscal conditions had deteriorated to the point that what was a projected surplus in 2012 was now a deficit. 

The deficit projections would grow more negative as the recession wore on, but to use the Jan08 instead of Jan09 data is patently wrong (a commenter on Jon’s cite also makes this point).

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