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Debt Wish: Talk is Cheap



Debt Wish: Talk is Cheap

Entitlements are the biggest drivers of our debt. It’s time to reform Social Security and Medicare. Adding to the national debt is “unpatriotic” and “irresponsible.” These are some of the statements we heard from President Obama a few years ago regarding our fiscal mess. And now that we’re more than $16 trillion in debt and facing yet another fight over the debt ceiling? We “don’t have a spending problem,” according to the president. Could this be at the heart of Washington’s refusal to face the facts on spending?


First-Term Obama: “Entitlements Are The Biggest Drivers Of Our Deficit.”

Obama: “I Believe That We Have To Continue To Take A Serious Look At How We Reform Our Entitlements, Because Health Care Costs Continue To Be The Biggest Driver Of Our Deficits.” (President Barack Obama, Remarks By The President At A News Conference, The White House, 11/14/12)

In 2009, Obama Pledged To Reform Social Security And Medicare. “President-elect Barack Obama pledged yesterday to shape a new Social Security and Medicare ‘bargain’ with the American people, saying that the nation’s long-term economic recovery cannot be attained unless the government finally gets control over its most costly entitlement programs.” (Michael D. Shear, “Obama Pledges Reform Of Social Security, Medicare Programs,” The Washington Post, 1/16/09)

Obama: “What we have done is kicked this can down the road. We are now at the end of the road and are not in a position to kick it any further … We have to signal seriousness in this by making sure some of the hard decisions are made under my watch, not someone else’s.” (Michael D. Shear, “Obama Pledges Reform Of Social Security, Medicare Programs,” The Washington Post, 1/16/09)

Second-Term Obama: “We Don’t Have A Spending Problem.”

Obama: “We Don’t Have A Spending Problem.” “… What stunned House Speaker John Boehner more than anything else during his prolonged closed-door budget negotiations with Barack Obama was this revelation: ‘At one point several weeks ago,’ Mr. Boehner says, ‘the president said to me, ‘We don’t have a spending problem.’ ” (Editorial: Stephen Moore, “The Education of John Boehner,” Wall Street Journal, 1/6/13)

Spending Cuts Have Been “Barely Discussed.” “In public statements since [Obama’s] re-election, he has barely discussed how he would pare back federal spending, focusing instead on the aspect of his plan that plays to his liberal base and involves all gain and no pain for 98 percent of taxpayers.” (Peter Baker, “Obama Tilts Tax Debate Away From Spending Cuts,” New York Times, 11/29/12)

First Post-election News Conference Mentioned Spending Just Once. “One reason a lot of people may not be aware of the cuts Mr. Obama has proposed is that he does not talk about them often. In his first postelection news conference, he focused on tax increases on the wealthy and used the term ‘spending cuts’ just once without elaborating.” (Peter Baker, “Obama Tilts Tax Debate Away From Spending Cuts,” New York Times, 11/29/12)

The Atlantic: “There Are No Spending Cuts In [The Fiscal Cliff] Deal.” (Derek Thompson, “Fiscal Cliff Deal FAQ: What Just Happened And What It Means For You,” The Atlantic, 1/2/13)


Former Chief Of Staff Erskine Bowles: “…We Darn Well Better Cut Spending.” “First of all, most important thing is if we’re going to raise revenue, and if we’re going to raise it in any form, then we darn well better cut spending because spending is the biggest part of this problem, and the biggest part of that problem is the fact that health care is growing at a faster rate than GDP.” (Erskine Bowles, CBS’s Face The Nation, 12/9/12)

Bill Clinton: “We’ve Got To Deal With This Big, Long-Term Debt Problem, Or It Will Deal With Us.” (“Transcript of Bill Clinton’s Speech to the Democratic National Convention,” New York Times, 9/5/12)

“[Treasury Secretary Timothy] Geithner Targeted Entitlement Programs As The Key To Reducing The National Debt While Insisting That Social Security Benefits Remain Protected.” (“Geithner: Entitlement Programs Key To Cutting Deficit,”, 2/15/11)

Hillary Clinton: Debt Is “Message Of Weakness Internationally.” “Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waded into the nation’s fiscal debate Wednesday, calling the expected $1.3 trillion U.S. deficit a ‘message of weakness internationally.’ ‘It poses a national security threat in two ways: it undermines our capacity to act in our own interest, and it does constrain us where constraint may be undesirable…'” (“Clinton Says deficit is a national security threat,” The Hill, 9/8/10)

“… Former Obama Economic Advisers Austan Goolsbee And Peter Orszag Have Also Argued That Spending Cuts And Entitlement Reform Must Be Part Of Any Meaningful Budget Deal.” (Andrew Stiles, “Democrats Ready to March Off the Cliff,” Washington Free Beacon, 12/11/12)

Bowles: Forget Taxes, Cut Spending. “Even if you raise the top rates back to the Clinton rates, that only creates about $400 billion over 10 years. That’s $40 billion a year. We have a trillion dollar a year deficit. That alone won’t solve the problem. We have to cut spending.” (Erskine Bowles, CBS’s Face the Nation, 12/9/12)

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde: “… [A]n agreement that would only extend tax cuts for the middle class without addressing spending or entitlements would be insufficient to reassure the rest of the world, [International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde] said.” (Sandrine Rastello, “IMF’s Lagarde Says U.S. Fiscal Agreement Should Be Comprehensive,” Bloomberg, 12/9/12)


“Three In Four Voters Want To ‘Cut Government Spending Across The Board’ …” (James Hohmann, “Battleground Poll: Hike Taxes on the Rich,” POLITICO, 12/9/12)

Gallup Post-Election Polling Finds 72% Of Americans Want “Major Cuts To Federal Spending.” (Lydia Saad, “Economy, Entitlements, Iran Americans’ Top Priorities, Gallup, 11/15/12)

“By An Overwhelming Margin, Voters Throughout The Country Believe That The Cause Of The Federal Debt Comes From Government Spending Being Too High (79%) Rather Than Taxes Being Too Low (15%).” (The Tarrance Group, “Findings From National Survey,” Memo To Public Notice, 10/28/12)


“CBO: Debt Poses Greater Long-Term Economic Threat Than Fiscal Cliff” (Joel Gehrke, “CBO: Debt poses greater long-term economic threat than fiscal cliff,” The Washington Examiner, 11/16/12)

“Lawmakers wrangling over ‘fiscal cliff’ negotiations may have a bigger problem on their hands over the next decade, as the current rate of federal spending could drive the United States into a fiscal crisis, according to the Congressional Budget Office.” (Joel Gehrke, “CBO: Debt poses greater long-term economic threat than fiscal cliff,” The Washington Examiner, 11/16/12)

According To The Congressional Budget Office, “Entitlement Programs Are The Biggest Driver Of The Long-Term Debt.” (Heidi Przybyla, “Democrats Hint at Entitlement Program Cuts in U.S. Budget,” Bloomberg, 12/7/12)


Under Obama, The National Debt Has Increased By $5.8 Trillion, An Increase Of 55 Percent. (US Department Of The Treasury,, Accessed 1/4/13)

In 2008, Obama Said Adding $4 Trillion To The National Debt Was ‘Irresponsible’ And ‘Unpatriotic.’ “… In 2008, Obama said, ‘Number 43 added four trillion dollars [to the national debt] by his lonesome … that’s irresponsible, that’s unpatriotic.’ Obama, of course, has been adding to the debt at double the rate of his predecessor.” (Kyle Smith, “Obama’s Call For Economic Patriotism is as Convincing as New Coke,” Forbes, 9/27/12)

Projected To Reach $21 Trillion By 2017. (Table 7.1 – Federal Debt at the End of Year: 1940-2017)

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