Bush and Obama

The US vote today to raise the amount of money they can borrow, and thus they can keep paying their bills whilst they work out how to get in more than they spend. Certain elements in the US (e.g. The 'Tea Party') are putting the blame squarely at the door of the current president. The problem is much longer term than that, we could go back through to Bush II, Clinton, Bush I, Reagan, Carter....

The Washington Post compares new costs under Obama and the most recent Bush (counting tax revenue lost as a cost). It also notes that the Bush costs contain several ongoing bills, whereas the Obama costs have tended to be short term.

It is true that Bush was in power for longer than Obama, and so one would expect the bill to be bigger, but note the small print, the Obama total includes projections out to 2017.

The Post finishes with this patently true statement:

To relate this specifically to the debt-ceiling debate, we’re not raising the debt ceiling because of the new policies passed in the past two years. We’re raising the debt ceiling because of the accumulated effect of policies passed in recent decades, many of them under Republicans. It’s convenient for whichever side isn’t in power, or wasn’t recently in power, to blame the debt ceiling on the other party. But it isn’t true.

Decades. It's not Republican or Democrat. It's both. It's the fact that short term expediency has won out over longer term responsibility for decades.

How do they get out? Well, the democrats are right, they need to raise taxes. The republicans are right. They need to cut spending. Both are wrong, they must do a mix of these things.

I just don't hope they throw the baby out with the bathwater. The US space programme, for example, generated $7 of benefits for every $1 spent - and with the end of the space shuttle, and no obvious replacement, I do hope that short termism is not ruling the roost again.