If there’s one concern about the Obama presidency, it’s the deficit.
And when the White House acknowledged it had underestimated things by about $2 trillion this week — making for a $9.05 trillion gap through 2019 and $1.587 trillion this year — critics yelled even louder.
Imagine for a second, however, if John McCain had won the election last November.
Bruce Bartlett, an economist under Reagan, says the deficit this year would be nearly as much.
WSJ via The Atlantic: If one goes through the March update (pp. 6-7) and the August update (pp. 52-53) and adds up all the changes to the January estimate, you find that the deficit increase since January consists of $46 billion in lower than expected revenues due to the economy (11.5%), $129 billion in higher spending due to technical re-estimates (32.2%), and $226 billion due to legislative changes to both spending and revenues (56.3%).
This suggests that we would have had a deficit of at least $1,361 billion this year even if McCain had won (January deficit plus lower revenues and technical changes and no legislative changes) … assuming no stimulus and that the economy would have performed as well without it.
That’s only 14% less than the deficit currently projected. some of the legislative changes are due to higher defence spending and other non-stimulus related programs.
If we assume that McCain’s stimulus would have been half the size of Obama’s that leaves us with an estimated deficit of $1,474 billion under McCain–only 7% less than the deficit now estimated.
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