King of debt Joe Biden absurdly labels himself a ‘deficit hawk’


After President Biden spent 2022 claiming that “I have made tackling inflation my top economic priority,” a new report quotes Biden and his advisers unveiling their top economic priority for 2023: deficit reduction.

I’m not kidding.

How serious is the White House about reining in inflation and deficits?

The very same day Politico unveiled the new priority, the Biden administration went to the Supreme Court to defend its illegal — not to mention inflationary and deficit-financed — attempt to unilaterally forgive $400 billion in student loans.

The president’s pivot toward deficit reduction brings no actual new savings proposals.

It is entirely a public relations stunt from an administration that seems to see surging red ink more as a communications and spin challenge than an actual economic issue to address.

Let’s check the record. When President Biden was inaugurated, the Congressional Budget Office projected $14.5 trillion in baseline budget deficits between 2021 and 2031.

Two years later, the CBO now projects $20.5 trillion in deficits over the same decade.

The Biden administration wants Congress to fund $1.6 billion to help prosecute fraud in governmental pandemic relief programs which include measures to prevent future identity theft and help victims.

Of that $6 trillion in added deficits, roughly $5 trillion comes from new legislation and executive orders signed by Biden.

There was a $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, an infrastructure expansion, a student loan bailout, a 23% surge in discretionary spending over two years, and large spending expansions for SNAP benefits, semiconductors, health subsidies, and veterans benefits.

Adding $5 trillion in legislation and executive orders in just two years far outpaces Biden’s predecessors.

Donald Trump as president took four years to sign legislation adding $7.8 trillion to the 10-year deficit (half of which was the ­bipartisan pandemic relief), while Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush each took eight years to add $5 trillion and $6.9 trillion, respectively, in 10-year legislative costs, according to my study of CBO data.

And Biden’s figures would have been even higher had his “Build Back Better” trillions not been too much even for a Democratic Congress to pass.

Biden repeatedly portrays himself as a deficit-cutter because deficits have fallen from the 2020 and 2021 peaks.

But those shortfalls were inflated by one-time pandemic spending that simply expired on schedule when the pandemic ended.

The president had nothing to do with those expirations.

Activists and students protest in front of the Supreme Court during a rally for student debt cancellation in Washington, DC
The Biden administration went to the Supreme Court to defend its attempt to unilaterally forgive $400 billion in student loans.
AFP via Getty Images

In fact, Biden drastically hiked the 2021 deficit with his American Rescue Plan, and then took credit for deficit reduction when his own spending spree expired on schedule.

Then the president signed more legislation leaving deficits $400 billion higher than before the pandemic.

Even The Washington Post fact checkers slammed the president’s gaslighting claims of reducing ­deficits.

With Biden’s annual budget proposal set to be released next week, he’s already bragging that his budget will aim to reduce deficits and extend the Medicare Trust Fund by 20 years (while evidently letting the Social Security Trust Fund hit insolvency within a ­decade).

Yet once again, these claims are pure gimmickry. Last year’s budget proposal claimed savings by simply not counting its $2 trillion Build Back Better proposal in the spending totals.

As for extending Medicare, 80% of the long-term “savings” would come from simply transferring more general funds into the Medicare Trust Fund.

That shell game merely replaces Medicare’s deficits with general fund budget deficits, and provides zero net savings.

Moving forward, the president has offered no serious blueprint to address deficits surging towards $3 trillion within a decade.

Former President Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump speaking at the Mar-a-Lago Club where he announced last November that he will run in 2024.
AFP via Getty Images

He has attacked Republicans for daring to propose addressing the Social Security and Medicare drivers of red ink.

And now he is slamming Republicans for merely suggesting that both parties sit down to address deficits as part of raising the $31 trillion debt limit.

The numbers don’t lie, no matter the spin.

Brian Riedl is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Follow him on twitter @Brian_Riedl.

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