Watching the worst political strategist in modern times, a man who almost single-handedly destroyed both the conservative movement and the Republican party, is always entertaining. The man who crowed that deficits don't matter for eight years turned on a dime - like Glenn Reynolds - and is now blaming the entire debt on Obama. This is not a surprise. The key consistent theme of the Bush administration was the irresponsibility culture: never funding vast entitlements enacted for short-term political purposes, never planning for an Iraq occupation, letting core government functions, such as FEMA, be downgraded, blaming low-level grunts for a torture policy instigated and monitored from the White House, dismissing intelligence that didn't fit existing ideology, abandoning a serious prosecution of counter-insurgency in Afghanistan, and on and on. The wreckage still steams with toxic fumes as Obama tries to navigate across it.
But the Leonhardt article may actually have over-stated Obama's responsibility for the debt we now labor under. See Chait for details:
First, [Leonhardt] put on Obama's tab the 2009 omnibus appropriations bill. Second, he added in several tax credits, such as for R&D or alternative energy, that Obama plans to extend. The first is a fair though debatable point -- the appropriations bill was passed by Congress under Bush's watch, but Obama signed it, so you can blame him for it. But the second is pretty unfair. The tax code is filled with credits that, rather than being part of permanent law, Congress simply extends year after year in order to keep lobbyists on the hook for campaign contributions. Those clearly belong in the category of extending inherited policy rather than new policy created by Obama.
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