Last night on Fox News, former top Bush adviser Karl Rove chastised President Obama for his economic recovery package Congress passed last February and criticized him for his new proposal to enact “pay as you go” budgeting rules — paying for spending increases by either raising taxes or budget cuts.
“This is a cosmetic gesture. This guy is going to run up a $1.8 trillion deficit. That’s what it’s projected to be this year,” Rove complained. But when host Greta Van Susteren asked if the Bush administration is responsible for any of the deficit, Rove replied, “No.”:
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you take some responsibility, meaning you, the Bush eight years, for this…
VAN SUSTEREN: You take absolutely no responsibility? Because…
Rove’s denial is odd, not only because the Bush administration turned President Clinton’s budget surplus into massive deficits and left with nearly half a trillion dollars in the hole, but also because Bush presided over the largest debt increase of any U.S. president in history. But the timing of Rove’s denial is odd as well because the New York Times published yesterday the results of an examination of Congressional Budget Office reports going back almost a decade which found that Obama “is responsible for only a sliver of the deficits” and most of his adminstration’s contribution to the deficit is a result of continuing Bush policies:
About 33 percent of the swing stems from new legislation signed by Mr. Bush. That legislation, like his tax cuts and the Medicare prescription drug benefit, not only continue to cost the government but have also increased interest payments on the national debt.
Mr. Obama’s main contribution to the deficit is his extension of several Bush policies, like the Iraq war and tax cuts for households making less than $250,000. Such policies — together with the Wall Street bailout, which was signed by Mr. Bush and supported by Mr. Obama — account for 20 percent of the swing.
“In other words,” Matt Yglesias writes, “the very high deficits are not Obama’s fault according to any normal way of assessing political blame.” See Yglesias’s pie chart illustrating the Times’s story here.