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Fiscal conservatives are being criticized as hypocrites for letting deficit spending go unchecked during the Bush administration, but now raising it as an issue under Obama.  A few thoughts:

  1. It’s a valid criticism.
  2. The criticism doesn’t affect the validity of the argument for fiscal conservatism.
  3. The scale of deficit spending, as evidenced by this chart, severely weakens the criticism.


  1. That chart does not weaken the criticism. Growth in the deficit from 2009-2019 is not a function of Obama’s policies, except for economic stimulus (his health care reforms paid for themselves). It mostly comes from increases in entitlement spending, which is a demographic problem that has been known about for a long time.

    The hypocrisy criticism thrown at Bush supporters is that growth in deficit spending from 2000-2008 was partly a function of policies that Republicans actively pursued that didn’t pay for themselves: Medicare Part D, Afghanistan, Iraq.

    First, the Medicare extension was pretty partisan:

    Second, if the Republicans had been responsible, they would have done like Truman did and paid for their war out of taxes, not out of debt.

  2. Joe,

    The deficit grew tenfold from 2007 to 2009. Obviously, this had nothing to do with the change of administration and everything to do with the economic downturn. However, I do think it validates fiscal conservatives’ rapidly growing concern with deficits.

    Republicans’ fiscal policy from 2000-2008 was reckless, but at the time, the recklessness didn’t seem that dangerous. Nobody expected tax revenues were about to fall drastically, while governments spending increased enormously. Once that happened, and deficits jumped an order of magnitude, fiscal conservatives had every right to start asking serious questions.

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