February 23rd, 2009
11:02 PM ET

Truth in Budgeting: Is it enough?

Program Note: Tune in to hear more from David Gergen tonight on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

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David Gergen | Bio
AC360° Contributor
CNN Senior Political Analyst

President Obama is taking a significant step toward fulfilling another important campaign pledge this week: he is unveiling a federal budget that actually tries to tell us some hard truths about the government’s finances. Too many years in the past, the Bush administration engaged in deception by keeping the costs of Iraq and Afghanistan out of the regular budget, plus pulling off some other shenanigans that disguised just how much the government was growing and how much its deficits were growing. By the time he left office, President Bush had practically doubled the national debt – doing as much damage in 8 years as the republic had suffered in more than 200 previous years combined.

Obama promised truth in budgeting, and he is succeeding far more than in the recent past. The cost of both wars will now be included in this week’s budget, money will be set aside to respond to natural disasters, and the budget won’t show cost cutting in programs that everyone knows will be revived (e.g., the alternative minimum tax).

The results of taking a truth serum – along with the horrendous costs we are piling up in fighting the economic crisis – will reveal eye-popping numbers stretching far into the future. We can expect at least $1.3 trillion in deficits this coming year, another mountain the following year, before the deficits will be shown to slope down to some $533 billion four years from now. The Administration is touting that as serious progress, but only a year or so ago, an annual deficit of $500 billion would have been wholly unacceptable.

We need to know the hard truths about our country’s financial situation and the Administration deserves congratulations for going as far as it has, but the question arises: has it gone far enough? Will even this first Obama budget tell us everything we need to know? Sadly, that does not appear to be the case.

Here are just a few things the administration must still tell us:

  • How much are these outbursts of federal loans and loan guarantees likely to cost taxpayers in the next few years? How much are they likely to add to deficits in the next five years? For example, how likely is it that General Motors and Chrysler are likely to repay their billions in bailouts so far? If they are unlikely to repay, shouldn’t the books show these as additional costs to Uncle Sam? That’s what corporations are required to show when they make loans that are unlikely to be repaid. Why not Washington?
  • How should we think about the real cost to the taxpayer of the housing bailout program the President announced last week? Two leading newspapers (The Washington Post, USA Today) called it a $75 billion program; two others (New York Times, Wall Street Journal) put the cost at $275 billion. If some of the best journalists in the country cannot agree on the real costs to taxpayers, shouldn’t the government tell us?
  • What about all the unfunded liabilities that the government is facing just around the corner? The Peter G. Peterson Foundation bought a full -page ad in Sunday’s New York Times pointing out that our entitlement programs – Medicare and Social Security – have some $56 trillion in liabilities stretching into the future. Shouldn’t the Administration give us a full accounting of just how big and serious these monstrous liabilities are?
  • And what about all the different financial programs that the Federal Reserve has launched in an effort to stabilize the economy. How much do they add up to? How will they be covered? How much will fall upon taxpayers? How much might lead to more inflation? To his credit, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke promised at a National Press Club speech last week that the Fed would come up with a better accounting. The White House and Treasury need to hold feet to the fire.

In short, as much as President Obama’s truth in budgeting deserves praise for shedding more light on our financial condition, there is still far too much that is hidden in shadows. With hundreds of billions of dollars in new commitments being casually tossed about, almost numbing in size and always confusing in content, the Obama Administration will do a great deal to begin rebuilding trust and confidence in the future if it tells us what we need to know – and not just part of it, all of it!

Filed under: David Gergen • Economy • President Barack Obama • Raw Politics
soundoff (205 Responses)
  1. Abel Tsegga

    The Borgen Project has some good info on the cost of addressing global poverty.

    $30 billion: Annual shortfall to end world hunger.
    $550 billion: U.S. Defense budget

    February 23, 2009 at 5:30 pm |
  2. Tom P

    I am a lapsed Republican, I say that because the last eight years have been an economic embarrassment to fiscal conservatives. I never imagined that my former party could be largely responsible for the hole we're in. Democrats have always been "tax and spend", the only thing worse is "don't tax and spend" which the Republicans did. Combine that with the worst oversight possible and the budget shell games they played with Social Security revenues and Iraq expenses – and you have our present disaster.

    So I welcome the attempts at transparency. Obama is headed in the right direction, the problem is that all the inept politians in the Congress (in both parties) will try to keep the spending hidden so they don't have to be truely accountable. We the citizens need to let them know that we're done with that – it's time for a change.

    I will support this President and hope that the Republicans get their act together and return to the fiscal policies of thirty years ago. All this posturing on the part of the Repubican governors right now is embarrassing and hypocritical. Where were they for the last eight years? I don't remember any fiscal conservative cries then. Let's stop the policital noise and get down to fixing the problems.

    February 23, 2009 at 5:29 pm |
  3. milos jefferson III


    I agree!

    February 23, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  4. Jim Hallead

    Stimulus package and the bank bail outs is impacting the stock market negatively. I see my retirement funds, home value and cash in the bank evaporating daily. It's beyond a crisis. It's catastrophic. Why doesn't President Obama and his dream team take some of the bail out money from the stimulus package and buy a tractor and pull their heads out of their "butts". Do they see what is happening? There are many ordinary citizens that are not receiving any benefit from the "programs"; however, are feeling the reprocussions!

    February 23, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  5. LibertarianII

    Democrats are using the argument that "well, LOOK at how much BUSH spent, so the Republicans need to shut up". and the Republicans are saying "Look at all the wasteful spending of the Democrats".

    We all need to understand that GWB hugely grew the government (TSA, FISA, Iraq, etc) in size, spending and privacy intrusion. Yes, Bush spent a lot, but it is no defense for the Democrats to spend even MORE! And the Republicans need to realize that they supported the biggest bailout in history only to now say that a bailout just as big is wrong–suddenly, two months later.

    We need to get away from believing that the two parties in power have anything to offer us other than more taxes, and inflating government and the debt. We must ask ourselves what has the government ruled by Democrats and Republicans actually done–in terms of what it has a responsibility to do under the Constitution. If we used the Constitution as a report card, the governemtn would get an "F".

    February 23, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  6. Gene Penszynski from Vermont

    Regardless of whether you believe President Obama’s economic programs are good or bad at least he’s displaying them for your review in the OPEN. Quite a change from the last eight years where ‘Top Secret/ Execcutive Priviledge”‘ (meaning lets not tell the American public what we’re going to do until its too late for them to do anything about it) or ‘Let the Markets Control Themselves’ (meaning this is too complicated for us to understand so we’ll just let nature take it’s course as long as our rich friends are happy) controlled Government Policy !

    Let’s just see how Bobby Jindal’s Neo-con Republican Dogma plays out in Louisiana already one America’s poorest states maybe he can turn New Orleans into another Mumbai !

    February 23, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  7. Libertarian

    The truth is that BOTH parties are at fault and we the People are also at fault.

    The spending is the result of not being able to say "no" either by the politicians or by us. We need a leader to draw the line and say "sorry, we've over spent, have no money, and can't fund every want and maybe not even some needs".

    I _want_ a 52" HDTV–the government _wants_universal healthcare. but what do we NEED absolutely?

    THe list is definitely debatable-but we need to begin having that debate. Remember the movie "Dave" where he just goes through the budget and gets rid of the stupid spending????

    February 23, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  8. Ronnie

    So yes the stock market is getting worse.... has anyone else noticed that it's because the greedy investors with all of the money are the ones that control it. They wait and watch and invest when they hear a rumor that the federal government is going to bail out banks and corporations then when that doesn't happen they pull out and the Dow loses 250 points. The popular thing to do when this happens is blame the president for the fall of the stock market. Last time I checked the American public were not fans of the Government bailing these companies out, and the president is to act in the interest of the people. The stock market is going to take time to transition from the former administrations coming to their aid all the time because our former president thought that that was a good thing to do. We finally have a president that is trying to take care of our people with extended unemployment benefits, a plan to help those in danger of losing their homes, and all we can do is find something new to complain about. Be patient , it will get better, we as a people must accept the consequences of our electing a president to 8 years of horrible economic and business policy. Before you start pointing the finger at who is to blame don't forget to point it at yourself first.

    February 23, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  9. Gene Penszynski from Vermont

    Regardless of whether you believe President Obama's economic programs are good or bad at least he's displaying them for your review in the OPEN. Quite a change from the last eight years where 'Top Secret/ Execcutive Priviledge"' (meaning lets not tell the American public what we're going to do until its too late for them to do anything about it) or 'Let the Markets Control Themselves' (meaning this is too complicated for us to understand so we'll just let nature take it's course as long as our rich friends are happy) controlled Government Policy !

    Let's just see how Bobby Jindal's Neo-con Republican Dogma plays out in Louisiana already one America's poorest states.

    February 23, 2009 at 5:10 pm |
  10. Derek

    Dan Stewart,

    Nixon, Ford, and Carter almost tripled the debt in 10 years during the 70's..

    Reagan and Bush I tripled the debt in the 80's.

    Bush I and Clinton almost doubled it in the 90's.

    W, almost doubled it in his 8 years and now Obama has already added over a trillion dollars in a little more than a month.

    It is a 40 year problem, not an 8 year problem. We have been living off borrowed money for decades and now we are paying for. Unfortunarely, Ron Paul was the only one to pooint it out over the years and the media and people like you are bright enough to figure it out.

    February 23, 2009 at 4:53 pm |
  11. Michael

    No matter how much I try to vent I stay so mad at the way our Government has let us down. We had two red flags 7 years ago in Emron and WorldCom and all you did was promise to look into things better. You either lied or have the mentality of a third grader who hasn't learned how to write yet. Its a shame to call many of you leaders. When all you have done is bankrupt this country. You should be ashamed and resign but I know as well as you there is to much money to be made. So, we should do it for you. And take the money out of the equation. The sad part is you go to bed of a night and sleep like an angel while common people like me stay up all night wondering how we are gonna cope with your incompetence.

    February 23, 2009 at 4:46 pm |
  12. genek1953

    Changing the way budgets are calculated and reported going forward is only slightly helpful, unless someone goes back and applies the changes to past budgets to level the playing field for comparisons.

    February 23, 2009 at 4:46 pm |
  13. phil

    The federal govt is mandated to do THREE things everything outside of that is pork and wasteful spending I challenge all my liberal friends hear to find out the mandate of the federal government and then further challenge you to find how far GWB was out of line. Obama is definitely heading towards the greatest spending president this country has ever seen and (so far) is well outside the original mandate of the federal government.

    February 23, 2009 at 4:45 pm |
  14. Rick

    Who do you think was running the show in the bush years. President no its the idiots in congress both democratic and republican. get real and wake up to the fact that this is not a one man show. look at the congressman who can not accept appointments because they themselves have not paid taxes like the millions of us are required by law to do. fire them all and start over with honest people.

    February 23, 2009 at 4:41 pm |
  15. Paul White

    The government is going to spend over a trillion dollars more than it takes in this year, which will drive the national debt up to something near 11,000,000,000,000. That's our little gift to future generations and says all that needs to be known about our country and our budget. We are collectively greedy and self-centered. We have lived beyond our means for about three decades and now we want the government, via future generations, to cover for our excess. Where's your comment on that, Gergen?

    February 23, 2009 at 4:39 pm |
  16. Mike from MN

    Mr. Gergen,

    I agree with your items that should also be disclosed. I wonder when Obama promises to cut the deficit in half in four years, that he is correctly taking into account the projected very high rate of inflation that is predicted to come with any real recovery. In any case the promise to half the deficit in 4 years has to be based on very optimistic assumtions that the stimulus and bail out will work at very high levels.

    February 23, 2009 at 4:38 pm |
  17. Carolyn

    Mr Gergen is one of the smartest people in the news, he strikes me as very fair minded and doesn't beat around the bush.
    He asked very cogent questions we should all want the answers too.
    I don't think anybody in their right mind can put the blame of this fiasco on President Obama . Love him or hate him Obama inherited problems he did not cause and will not be able to solve entirely and certainly not in 30 days. I think we should all calm down and at least give him a chance to try. I seriously doubt if smart puppies like L.Graham, Mccain or Boehner has any real quick answers as much as they claim they do. We are in this situation because of the falied economic policies of mostly trickle down republican theorist starting with Hoover up to Reagan and don't forget Clinton and NAFTA. Regardless of what some home buyers did or didn't do, they mostly fell under the knife of greedy unscrupulous bankers and real estate tycoons looking to make a fast buck selling mortgages like drunken sailors. It wasn't all Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. or liberal nonsense. This time it was W and the Republicans. Never the less we should all pray Obama does succeed. If we fail so does the rest of the world.

    February 23, 2009 at 4:37 pm |
  18. Michael

    Forget party lines. Come up with the right ideas thru debate and expert advise. Pull together to fix this mess you all have caused with your sleeping with Wall Street and big business. We the people want a Government that we can trust to look out for its PEOPLE. Not the corporations ,special interest groups and lobbyist. The people is who you work for, not none of the before mentioned.And if you do work for them get out of government and let someone who is their to do their civil duty have the job. You thieves have taken everything and still standing there with your hand out. ....UNBELIEVABLE...Restructure the SEC, The houses, and every other Government branch that let these transgressions occur. And get rid of the ones that are getting paid off.Get some real leaders in office that will work for the good of the people, and this Country. You leaders have proven so inept that I can't help but wonder how you con your voter base to keep putting you back in office.And those in power that assigned these career politicians to oversee something they know nothing about need to be held accountable also.

    February 23, 2009 at 4:28 pm |
  19. Franky

    I gotta say, you guys are funny. You guys are treating this like a balance sheet in small business stores...it ain't even close. We are an economy, not Gamestop or Best Buy. We are a capitalistic government, if you want the truth, study history, do some numbers, analyze certain data, etc. As far as I'm concerned, the numbers don't lie and if you want certain ones, then you won't find other ones and if you want different ones then you'll get confused. You see how confusing it is?? Listen, we've been in debt since since the beginning of this country, what makes you think selling Sunglasses is gonna help??? Yeah, is important for my boy to show good judgment and character BUT we don't like the fact that you people wanna change the system, we don't like the fact that people think is easy as 1-2-3, we don't like the fact that literally, out of ALL news media networks, they only know about 35% of the truth, etc.

    As far as we are concerned, you should worry in about...100 years. We'll see if you make it...

    February 23, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  20. Mark

    Not sure how the "tax cuts for the wealthy/privileged" can become the cause dujour for the deficit. If you sub in vast spending programs, you have even less to show for your money as they CERTAINLY don't create any possibility of a job. Plenty of blame goes to both democrats and republicans alike in congress. Let's all be honest. They, Congress, are horrible about looking out for the country"s best interest and only look at their own. Don't even try to claim Dodd and Frank were not part and parcel part of the Fannie and Freddie scam. They helped write the laws and claimed all was good. War spending should always be right up front and not covered up since we ARE at war.
    We have to stop spending on the BS that gets us nowhere. Billions added for a light rail line from LA to Vegas by everyones hero from NV. That helps no one and was inserted AFTER passage. Thay type of ridiculous spending is what kills me with respect to Government.

    February 23, 2009 at 4:20 pm |
  21. Jay

    Bush did a terrible job but if I remember correctly, doesn't federal spending have to pass the house and the senate before the president signs it ? Seeing the Dems were in charge of both houses the last 2 years, the blame falls on both sides. Just remember Barney Frank last July said that Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae were in good shape. Next election vote them all out.

    February 23, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  22. Carol

    Will the "Just Say No" and complaining crowd please shut up?
    Christ! This guy has been in office for 4 weeks! For the record.
    Bush and the GOP gave us a 9 trillion dollar deficit+
    The Republicans got us in this mess and you want Obama to fix it overnight.
    Our children and Grandchilren were put into deeep debt by the GOP before Obama came to office. And here's some news. I will spend the rest of my reminding this country how we got in this mess. In fact it is my duty to my country to remind people how we got in this mess.
    So get over the GOP LOSS and get on with helping to fix the mess you Republicans made.

    February 23, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  23. Thomas

    I'm tire of the blame game. Republicans had control and spent money, Dems had control and spent money. The Dems still have control and are spending more money. Both are at fault for the over spending.

    I'm also tired of the media not placing any blame on the consumers! The banks wanted to give me a MUCH larger loan than I could afford when I bought my house 5 years ago. Did I take the money? NO! Because I was responsible and knew what I could really afford. Are my credit cards maxed out? NO! Have they ever been maxed out? NO! If I lost my job right now I would be fine for at least 6 months before I really started hurting financially...and that's without cutting my life style back.

    Grow up, act like the adults you are, and stop blaming the big businesses or the Government for your mistakes. I just feel bad for those who have been responsible, but are getting laid off because of other people's mistakes.

    February 23, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  24. garyr

    I continue to be amazed that any conservatives defend the Bush Administration. Obama was handed the Bush Recession* and is now trying different ideas to work us out of this mess. If tax cuts are the best way to help the economy then this is a good plan as deficit spending is, in reality, nothing more than a cutting taxes to less than zero.So the cut taxes crowd should be thrilled.

    *Perhaps it should be called the Republician Recession.

    February 23, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  25. Keith

    The budget, that is a joke. Here is something that makes actual sense but yet Obama and or his party do not have the guts to pull something like this off.

    305 Millions US people today. You take you family’s that are US TAX paying citizens making $30,000/yr to $125,000/YR and you give them $500,000.00 per family. By doing so you would be putting money into the hands of the right people, people that are going to do right by it, like pay off debt, pay off houses, cars, credit cards ect.ect. What happens when people do this, oohh that’s right, they are putting money back into circulation which puts money back to banks, credit companies, insurance, auto industry, small business and what happens when that happens, the economy gets better. People start spending again. Heck, if the government gave us the money they would tax us on it anyways and make more money on us.

    Simple math 305 million Americans x $500,000.00each = $152,500,000,000,000 Billion which is $600 billion cheaper then anything Obama is doing right now.

    I am not expert on this subject, but this sounds better to me then and extra $13.00.month in taxes!!!

    Anyone else...

    February 23, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  26. Maggie and Gen

    Don't take the MONEY if you don't WANT it????

    I will!!!!

    February 23, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  27. Keith

    Same old, same old. We cannot expect the government to EVER tell us the truth when it comes to the budget. Politicians are addicted to spin control and accountant are MASTERS at making numbers show whatever they want them too.

    Clinton still claims he balanced the budget when he was in office. Many media outlets pick this up and spit it out as gospel, never actually looking at the numbers. While other news organizations did some investigation and realized that the budget was considered balanced only because they included Social Security taxes. As we all know, social security income for the government was higher then its expenditures, so by playing a few games with its balance sheets, they were able to show a small surplus, when in reality it was still a deficit.

    I didn't expect any better from Bush and I don't expect any better from Obama.

    February 23, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  28. Michael

    Fire the house, fire the Congress, Investigate the allegations of all members and get rid of them. Republican, or Democrat doesn't matter to me. What matters is we have a bunch of people in power that are only looking out for their own interest. I want them to reveil all the truth. And I want any and all that can be prosecuted to the fulliest extent of the law. Its like the judge's today sending kids to reform school for kick backs. Got three years. Well we got them....NOT!!!. When they get stuck in the same hole as you and me then justice is served. This double standard has to go! Do the crime ,do the time, Just like I would have too.Hey, right now give me 2.5 million and I'll do my time right. Bunch of crooked cowards. And instead of our government making examples of them(like they would us) They go spend a vacation in Hawaii at an air force base. What isn't right with this picture?.....Anybody out there even got a clue anymore?????

    February 23, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  29. Mike

    There is only one word for our elected officials right now and that is "hypocricy."
    When Bush was in office all the Democrats could do was bash him and his policies. They gave him ZERO support and offered no solutions of their own. They just wanted to bad mouth the President and anything he did. Now we have the Democrats saying we should support our current President (gee big surprise, would they be saying that had McCain been elected?) and blame the Republicans for being divisive and getting in the way of legislation. Then we have the Republicans who really are offering the American people any real solution of their own.
    Is this a great country or what? We should give the control of our future to children because that appears to be who is running it now anyway.
    Waaaaa Waaaaa Waaaaaa. Someone stole my candy. Boo Hoo. A bunch of children is who we elected and we deserve everything we get because we didn't have the guts to elect someone different.

    February 23, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  30. Dan W

    David, thank you for being a practical, moderate, independent, intelligent voice of reason amidst the right wing and left wing nuts! Your independence makes you one of the few credible voices during these trying times, and I only wish more people listened to you!

    February 23, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  31. steve

    Thanks David. This is what I would say to Mr. Obama:

    Give it to us straight, Doc. We can take it. We don't know how to fight if we don't know what to fight. We didn't hire you to get the same B(ush) S.

    February 23, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  32. Dan, TX

    Is it true that the "fair tax" would require 39% of all income from everyone every year for the next 50 years to balance the budget and pay off the debt?

    February 23, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  33. Mike

    It is real easy for one administration of a competing party to air the laundry of the previous administration. What will be impossible for B.O. to do is tell the truth, entirely the truth, about his own budgets and administration. Trust me when I tell you that skeletons will come out of the closet when Obama leaves office just as it does every time a President leaves office. Obamas will be no different.

    February 23, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  34. NotFooled

    let's see – he'll halve the deficit, back down to 600 billion dollars?
    that's what the deficit was under bush!!!
    it's a great strategy to fool your worshippers though, double the deficit, then pledge to cut it in half.

    February 23, 2009 at 3:50 pm |
  35. Michael

    I'm not here to bash Obama. But I am here to bash both republicans and democrats for the shape we find our country in today.They have pulled our attention away in the past by this pointing finger crap like 3rd graders on the playground. Both are responsible for this mess. It wasn't all Bush either because the DEMs controlled both houses. What can any President do with his hands tied behind his back.Bush did want to do something Freddie and Faye but the Dems blocked it.Both had a hand in this mess. Wake up, and study instead of just listening to what these guys are paid to tell us in the media.Let us know the truth of it all Obama.Its your job now, and you promised.But people quit pointing fingers and lets straighten out our Goverment and sweep the trash to the curb.You guys make me sick backing these party's after what they have done. I didn't vote for Obama but he may have the only set of balls left on the planet.If he isn't bought and paid for...we will see won't we

    February 23, 2009 at 3:47 pm |
  36. Carole

    Anita, well said. Thank you! Bush did more to harm the country than any other President and I too hope that these Obama-bashers live in states that are refusing the stimulus money. If they want to harm themselves, fine, but don't bring the rest of the country done with them.

    February 23, 2009 at 3:45 pm |
  37. Charles

    President Obama is no fool. He knows that people do not read these things. He knows that it is not even possible to read it. He also knows that his people do not read all of the input at his websites. But the people think they do. It is the bigest deceit of all.

    February 23, 2009 at 3:40 pm |
  38. Gina

    Yep...it cost a bit of money to keep you all very safe for the last 7 years. If Bush hadn't done that, you might not be here to whine that we don't all slobber like kool aid drinkers over the new president like he's a God. What can you be thinking when you think there is transparency and spending and tax evaders running this country. Is this any better???
    Oh he speaks so eloquently. I could too with teleprompters! I don't trust someone who pays back his buddies that helped get him into office with "stimulus" money. (ACORN) and I don't like someone that just HAD to get the stimulus bill passed so it could sit there for 3 more days before it was signed. Stimulus is not in schools or bridges or trains or mice. It's going to be in the American people not GOVERNMENT!!! WAKE UP before the new guy gets us in such a hole we will never get out of it!

    February 23, 2009 at 3:35 pm |
  39. Jackie in Dallas

    Interesting that this point wasn't being made by "commentators" during the Bush Administration...

    I'm just pleased that things are at least becoming translucent instead of totally opaque. Transparency, so that we REALLY see everything is a much harder row to hoe, and could be even more depressing than what we are seeing. Maybe revealing it chunks at a time, which is what it appears that President Obama is doing, is wiser than hitting us all at once and knocking us totally off our feet. Of course, to really see the cost of the war in Iraq, besides the human carnage, might even faze some of the most obdurate GOP supporters.

    February 23, 2009 at 3:33 pm |
  40. W. Shields

    I notice in your complaint about what Obama is not telling us you do not mention that President Obama today said HEALTH CARE costs are OVERWHEMINGLY the most important factor in our continuing deficit crisis and that getting these cost under control is vital–NOW.

    February 23, 2009 at 3:31 pm |
  41. lenora hancock

    I fully understand and agree that we must help out those who are about to lose their homes, jobs and etc.

    But for the 92% of the people who are doing everything to maintain a standard of living, and I am speaking of those who are middle class main stream ( earning less than 250k) that are day by day watching their 401k being swallowed up and their goal for retiring at a age where they can still think clearly becoming less of a reality: Why can't we be offered some type of recovery of our hard earned money that has vanished in this crisis?

    Why is that youcan write off losses when you gamble in Vegas, but you can't write off a lost that was not irresponsible or by choice, but was due to greed and no oversight on the part of the finanical sector?

    It seems that when you try to do the right thing you always end up on the losing end.

    February 23, 2009 at 3:23 pm |
  42. Cameron

    Say what you want, but Obama has already spent more money in one bill than both bailout packages of last year. Or if you take the total cost of the Iraq war at 10bil a month. Is this REALLY going to help? What amazes me is if you are critical of Obama, you are a "Bush Lover". What happened to Bi-Partisanship? How come Obama can spend money like crazy and its okay, while it was NEVER okay for Bush? I was never a Bush lover and was quite ready for him to leave office, but now I can't help buy wonder if he was really so bad...

    When are you people going to realize Obama fooled you into thinking he was different? So far, he just like every other politician... I mean really, he told us there was no pork in the bill!!! There was pork EVERYWHERE in the bill... a lot of it hand written in ink!!!

    February 23, 2009 at 3:20 pm |
  43. Matt

    Obama is going to triple the deficit first, and then do us a favor by bringing it back down to last year's level by the time he leaves. Make no mistake, Bush did a lot of damage to our national debt during his tenure, but it's just going to be more of the same or worse during Obama.

    And someone mentioned above that the stimulus bill was made available to read. I read that it was available for 10hrs before it was voted on. Over a thousand pages...must be some fast readers...

    February 23, 2009 at 3:19 pm |
  44. Mike M.

    Once again it is the "8 years of Bush" that gets me. Did the democratic congress change the stimulus bill? YES? Did Obama the president have any control over the last minute changes? NO. Why oh why is everything on George's head for 8 years? The senate was controlled by the Democrats his last 4 years and the house was controlled by the democrats his last two years. So the Democrats controlled the house and senate the last two years when this meltdown started. So please do not give me the holier than thou Democrat speech. What was your Democratic congress doing the last two years? Ask that question. They could have passed pretty much anything they wanted. George is not free of blame here. Neither are the Democrats. Lets give Obama a chance and see what happens. As stated above no one knows how the stimulus will pan out. Just stop the 8 years of Bush chant and how much damage he did. Again, where were your Democrats in congress? Clearly they can amend bills as they just did last week.

    February 23, 2009 at 3:18 pm |
  45. KDH

    Get over your back and forth with the two political parties. I seem to remember the Dems were in charge for 2 years before this mess happened and this disaster goes way back.
    It is time we all wake up and blame BOTH parties. The only way to seriously get out of this is to drastically cut Government and all that it does. Government helped get us into this mess, I highly doubt more Government is the answer.

    February 23, 2009 at 3:17 pm |
  46. lindsey

    I really like general, sweeping, unfounded statements (as if its an undisputed fact) like "doing as much damage in 8 years as the republic had suffered in more than 200 previous years combined." Really? Bush did more damage than everyone else in 200 years combined? You have amazing future seeing abilities if you can measure the effects of a presidencey just weeks after it ends. And to think, it takes historians and professors decades of analysis to determine the true effects of a president, but you can make that determination (unbiased I'm sure) before the ink on Obama's business card dries. Since you can see the future so well, why didn't you sound the alarm on the housing crisis?

    February 23, 2009 at 3:16 pm |
  47. Andi

    No one wants to hear bad news. Americans have to face the reality of our problems, instead of listening to people who always say 'no' when others try to help for the good of all Americans

    February 23, 2009 at 3:16 pm |
  48. Big Bear

    I can't believe that Gergen really trusts the Obama Administration to show us the way. He is showing us the way. The way down the drain. Spending more money never solved any problems. Until we can elect some people with some business savy, we are always going to be in the problem. The government overspends, because it can borrow. But there is nothing left to borrow,. They need to be cutting programs, let the private sector rebuild the economy. Quit bailing out each company that comes along. That is part of the free enterprise system. If you can't make money, you go out of business.

    Obama's accountants will be just as crooked as every administration before it. But take a look at years past. When did we start our economic down turn. When the Democratic congress took over. Before then we were just sailing along. Pelosi and her people are the reason for our downfall. They are using it to spread social welfare again and keep the people down. The longer we have social welfare, the more apt it is that Democrats will get elected. Because they promise taking from the rich and giving to poor without any personal responsibility. Get your passports ready.

    February 23, 2009 at 3:14 pm |
  49. Kurt

    Gergen, true to his right-wing form, lied several times in one piece. The unfunded part of Medicare-Medicaid and Social Security is about $6.5 trillion in unfunded liabilities, not the $56 trillion that he uncritically claims. Even the $6.5 trillion assumes a growth rate of historically anemic 1.1%. The $56 trillion is based on wildly pessimistic assumptions and also assumes that 90% of baby boomers alive today will live to be 90 years old.

    February 23, 2009 at 3:10 pm |
  50. Otto

    Right now the US governemt is runnig the largest Ponzi scheme ever and the whole world is getting scammed. Once everyone calls in our debts... they will have no money to give us and we will all be broke!

    February 23, 2009 at 3:05 pm |
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