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Post Partisan
Posted at 06:28 PM ET, 05/16/2012

The deficit and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

Folks such as Greg Sargent, Steve Benen and Jonathan Chait have effectively dissected Mitt Romney’s Monday chatter about the deficit and how President Obama is to blame. And now I want to add my two cents by jumping off something that Sargent, my colleague, wrote.

He noted that the press coverage of Romney’s “prairie fire of debt” speech failed to note two things.

1) Nonpartisan experts believe Romney’s plans would increase the deficit far more than Obama’s would.
2) George W. Bush’s policies arguably are more responsible for increasing the deficit than Obama’s are.

It is on Sargent’s second point to which I want to add. Talking Points Memo put out this handy graph, highlighting where the federal red ink comes from.

At the top you see “Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” During the George W. Bush presidency those costs were financed through supplemental spending that was not part of the appropriations process. In short, the funding was kept off the books. But in a speech to a joint session of Congress in 2009, a newly inaugurated Obama announced the end to that deceptive budgetary practice.

Finally, because we’re also suffering from a deficit of trust, I am committed to restoring a sense of honesty and accountability to our budget. That is why this budget looks ahead ten years and accounts for spending that was left out under the old rules – and for the first time, that includes the full cost of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.  For seven years, we have been a nation at war.  No longer will we hide its price.

Such honesty and accountability hasn’t whittled away at the deficit in trust. It’s only added to the sticker shock Americans feel. And the price for this could be a reelection defeat for Obama — if folks forget how the deficit hole was dug and by whom.

By  |  06:28 PM ET, 05/16/2012

Tags:  Election 2012

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