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AP Blames Obama for Deficit, Ignores Bush Tax Cuts

April 29, 2009

Last month, I examined how Liz Sidoti, Ron Fournier and other of the Republican bath water drinkers at the Associated Press present conservative opinion pieces to readers using headlines which wrongly begin with the word, "Analysis." Now in an another broadside deceptively titled "Fact Check," the AP pins blame for the federal budget deficit on President-then-Senator Obama and Congressional Democrats. Sadly for the myth making machine that is the AP, long before last fall's bipartisan economic bailout it was President Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy which accounted for the largest share of Washington's red ink.
Of course, you'd never know it from Calvin Woodward's flight of fancy. Panning President Obama's appearance in Missouri today, Woodward insisted Obama need only look in the mirror for the cause of the $1.3 trillion budget deficit he inherited:

"That wasn't me," President Barack Obama said on his 100th day in office, disclaiming responsibility for the huge budget deficit waiting for him on Day One.
It actually was partly him -- and the other Democrats controlling Congress the previous two years -- who shaped the latest in a string of precipitously out-of-balance budgets.
And as a presidential candidate and president-elect, he backed the twilight Bush-era stimulus plan that made the deficit deeper, all before he took over and promoted spending plans that have made it much deeper still.

But while allowing that "a Republican president, George W. Bush, had a role, too: he signed the legislation," Woodward completely ignored the budgetary devastation wrought by the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003.
As an analysis of data from the CBO by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities revealed, by 2007 those tax cuts accounted for half of the deficits which reemerged after George W. Bush assumed office in 2001. The trillions spent on giveaways to the richest Americans needing them least dwarfed the expanded expenditures on defense and homeland security, entitlements like the Medicare prescription drug benefit or other discretionary spending.
As the Center for American Progress noted, those Bush tax cuts delivered a third of their total benefits to the wealthiest 1% of Americans. And to be sure, their payday was staggering. As the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities detailed, by 2007 millionaires on average pocketed $120,000 from the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003. Those in the top 1% stashed an extra $45,000 a year. As a result, millionaires saw their after-tax incomes rise by 7.6%, while the gains for the middle quintile and bottom 20% of Americans were a paltry 2.3% and 0.4%, respectively. it should come as no surprise that the income share of the 400 richest Americans doubled over the past decade.
It is, of course, true that the 2008 bailout of the financial sector and the $787 billion recession-fighting package supported by President Obama will ratchet up the federal deficit this year and next. But it's also true that the U.S. national debt tripled under Ronald Reagan, only to double-again under George W. Bush.
But in the telling of the AP's Liz Sidoti, the myth of Republican fiscal discipline is presented as fact. As she wrote in February of a time that never was:

"GOP Tries to Restore Image of Fiscal Discipline: Return to tax-cut roots driving unity in a party that now lacks power."


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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