"Today I am pledging to cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term in office," President Barack Obama boldly declared on Feb. 23, 2009. Among Obama's parade of disappointments, this may be the most dangerous.
Obama was inaugurated as the fiscal year 2009 deficit eventually totaled $1.41 trillion. Had he halved this shortfall, FY 2012's deficit should have remained below $705 billion. Instead, it was $1.1 trillion -- $395 billion above Obama's pledge.
Under Obama, America has made history: four consecutive annual deficits surpassing $1 trillion. After FY 2009's $1.41 trillion hole (which he and an all-Democratic Congress could have filled), the next three deficits were, respectively, $1.29 trillion, $1.3 trillion, and $1.1 trillion. Thus, Obama has swelled the national debt by $5.1 trillion, all in one term. Another record.
As The Weekly Standard's Jeffrey H. Anderson recalls, Obama predicted in May 2009 that FY 2012's deficit would be just $557 billion. Obama underestimated the depth of last year's red ink by almost exactly half. Never take a diving lesson from this man. Obama's massive misjudgment confirms his profligacy and incompetence. The least a president should do is accurately forecast the pace at which he spends the nation into oblivion. Obama cannot manage even that.
Obama's stunning lack of leadership fuels this catastrophe. Budgets are key to controlling spending. Nonetheless, while the Republican House of Representatives has passed two budgets, Obama has permitted the Democratic Senate to violate the 1974 Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act by refusing to endorse any budget whatsoever. Like an equatorial backwater patrolled by feral chickens, the United States of America has not adopted a budget since April 29, 2009.
Even worse, Obama has not exercised enough muscle to earn even one congressional vote for his latest budget. It failed unanimously, with every voting House and Senate member giving his blueprint bipartisan thumbs down. The House killed Obama's proposal 0-414. The Senate followed suit, 0-99. That Obama could not convince even one of Congress' 535 members to support such pivotal legislation represents a canyonesque low in presidential ineptitude. How appropriate for a man who has driven America off a cliff, and still floors the accelerator, as the nation speeds toward the jagged rocks below.
Obama also inculcates a culture of spending. If he tightened his belt, and demanded accountability among federal employees, Washington might emulate his model. Instead, the bacchanal roars on. Among infinite examples of this obscenity:
-- The Agriculture Department spent $2 million to launch an internship program. And then it hired precisely one intern. This breathtaking sum included $192,500 to house that intern.
-- Obama has expanded the Lifeline program, which now gives poor people free cellphones. While started under President Ronald Reagan, Obama has exploded Lifeline's budget 107 percent -- from $772 million in 2008 to $1.6 billion today.
-- The Obama administration gave A123 Systems a stimulus grant to manufacture electric-car batteries. Obama predicted at a 2010 Rose Garden ceremony that A123 would hire "more than 3,000 by the end of 2012." He added: "This is what's possible in a clean-energy economy."
A123 has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It already burned through $132 million of its $249 million allocation. It also had received money in 2003 and 2007 from the Bush-Rove administration. Sadly, Obama turned his predecessor's spending fever into fiscal pneumonia.
A123 is now at least the 14th Obama-funded green bankruptcy. As GOP nominee Mitt Romney told Obama in their first debate: "I had a friend who said you don't just pick the winners and losers. You pick the losers."
Some of these eco-fiascos are tragicomic. According to one Abound Solar employee, "Our solar modules worked, as long as you didn't put them in the sun." The Daily Caller also reported that Abound's solar panels had a bad habit of bursting into flames. Awash in red ink, President Obama seems to be sinking in the Red Sea.
(Deroy Murdock is a columnist with Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.)