Two years ago, Barack Obama unveiled his first budget as president, ambitiously titled “A New Era of Fiscal Responsibility.” The budget projected that by the time we reached 2019, the national debt would increase 62 percent, to a whopping $15.4 trillion. Today, Obama released his 2012 budget, having declared over the weekend that, “It’s time Washington acted as responsibly as our families do.” Interestingly, the budget proposal now projects that after all of this responsibility, the national debt will stand at $17.3 trillion in 2019 — or $1.9 trillion higher than the administration’s own projections from February 2009. Also, in it’s old budget, the Obama administration projected that this year’s deficit would be $912 billion — now it projects more than $1.6 trillion.
Below, I’ve created a chart to compare where the debt was supposed to be headed in the Obama administration’s initial budget with the one it released today.
A further breakdown of the 2010 to 2019 budget window finds that the new budget runs higher deficits than the old budget in every year up until 2017 — and only then saves $9 billion relative to the old budget during that year. Overall, the new budget runs up nearly $1.7 trillion in higher deficits in that 10 year period than in Obama’s original budget. Note that we now have actual data for the 2010 fiscal year, in which the deficit was $122 billion higher than the Obama administration initially predicted it would be.
Here’s a chart I generated based on the above data. As you can see, deficits start out siginificantly higher under the new proposal, and catch up in the later years. But even then, the relative deficit savings are marginal. In 2019, the new deficit estimate is $31 billiion lower than the old one. But that year’s budget is now projected to be $5.7 trillion — so we’re talking about a half of a percentage point.