Barack Obama Versus the Tea Parties

If there's still mileage in the Tea Party story, it's now Barack Obama's fault! At his 100th-day townhall meeting in St. Louis, the president said:

"Those of you who are watching certain news channels on which I'm not very popular, and you see folks waving tea bags around, let me just remind them that I am happy to have a serious conversation about how we are going to cut our health care costs down over the long term, how we are going to stabilize Social Security."

"But, let's not play games and pretend that the reason [for the deficit] is because of the Recovery Act."

How sympathetically should we treat this argument? It's certainly true that deficits have preceded the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, but it's equally true that the act didn't do our fiscal outlook any favors: