Crossroads GPS: “Remember”

Crossroads GPS links Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) to President Obama, alleging that Democratic policies that both supported are responsible for “trillion-dollar deficits.” However, the projected deficit was already over $1 trillion at Obama’s inauguration as a result of Bush administration policies, including expensive tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans. The only example of a “budget-busting” policy cited in the ad is the Affordable Care Act, which actually reduces deficits over time.

Bush Policies And Recession Caused Debt To Skyrocket

Prior To President Obama’s Inauguration, President Bush Had Already Created A Projected $1.2 Trillion Deficit For Fiscal Year 2009. From the Washington Times:  “The Congressional Budget Office announced a projected fiscal 2009 deficit of $1.2 trillion even if Congress doesn’t enact any new programs. […] About the only person who was silent on the deficit projection was Mr. Bush, who took office facing a surplus but who saw spending balloon and the country notch the highest deficits on record.” [Washington Times1/8/09]

NYT: President Bush’s Policy Changes Created Much More Debt Than President Obama’s. The New York Times published the following chart comparing the fiscal impact of policies enacted under the Bush and Obama administrations:


[New York Times, 7/24/11]

Recession Added Hundreds Of Billions In Deficits By Increasing Spending On Safety Net While Shrinking Tax Revenue. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) explains: “When unemployment rises and incomes stagnate in a recession, the federal budget responds automatically: tax collections shrink, and spending goes up for programs like unemployment insurance, Social Security, and Food Stamps.” According to CBPP: “The recession battered the budget, driving down tax revenues and swelling outlays for unemployment insurance, food stamps, and other safety-net programs. Using CBO’s August 2008 projections as a benchmark, we calculate that the changed economic outlook alone accounts for over $400 billion of the deficit each year in 2009 through 2011 and slightly smaller amounts in subsequent years. Those effects persist; even in 2018, the deterioration in the economy since the summer of 2008 will account for over $300 billion in added deficits, much of it in the form of additional debt-service costs.” [, 11/18/10;, 5/10/11, citations removed]

Over The Coming Decade, The Bush Tax Cuts Are The Primary Cause Of Federal Budget Deficits. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities prepared a chart showing the deficit impact of the Bush tax cuts (orange), the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the recession itself, and spending to rescue the economy:


[, 5/10/11]

CBPP: Bush Tax Cuts And Wars Are Driving The Debt. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

The complementary chart, below, shows that the Bush-era tax cuts and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars — including their associated interest costs — account for almost half of the projected public debt in 2019 (measured as a share of the economy) if we continue current policies.


[Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 5/20/11]

“Budget-Busting Obamacare” Actually Reduces Deficits

CBO: The Affordable Care Act Will Reduce Deficits By Over $200 Billion From 2012-2021. According to Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf’s testimony before the House on March 30, 2011: “CBO and JCT’s most recent comprehensive estimate of the budgetary impact of PPACA and the Reconciliation Act was in relation to an estimate prepared for H.R. 2, the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act, as passed by the House of Representatives on January 19, 2011. H.R. 2 would repeal the health care provisions of those laws. CBO and JCT estimated that repealing PPACA and the health-related provisions of the Reconciliation Act would produce a net increase in federal deficits of $210 billion over the 2012–2021 period as a result of changes in direct spending and revenues. Reversing the sign of the estimate released in February provides an approximate estimate of the impact over that period of enacting those provisions. Therefore, CBO and JCT effectively estimated in February that PPACA and the health-related provisions of the Reconciliation Act will produce a net decrease in federal deficits of $210 billion over the 2012–2021 period as a result of changes in direct spending and revenues.” [“CBO’s Analysis of the Major Health Care Legislation Enacted in March 2010,”, 3/30/11]

  • July 2012 Report Affirmed Projection That ACA Will Reduce Deficits. According to a Congressional Budget Office Report titled “Estimates for the Insurance Coverage Provisions of the Affordable Care Act Updated for the Recent Supreme Court Decision”: “CBO and JCT have not updated their estimate of the overall budgetary impact of the ACA; previously, they estimated that the law would, on net, reduce budget deficits.” [, July 2012]

Tester Has Broken With President Obama More Than Average Senate Democrat

Missoulian: “Political Scientists Say [Tester’s] At Or Below Average For Senate Democrats” In Voting With President. From the Missoulian: “While Tester’s support of Obama is high, political scientists say it’s at or below average for Senate Democrats and hardly unusual, given the fact Tester is in a Senate majority that’s the same party as the president. ‘The general rule of thumb is, if you’re serving in the majority party, you will support your president pretty much all the time,’ says David Parker, a Montana State University political science professor who’s been keeping close tabs on the contest between Tester and Rehberg. If one looks at Rehberg’s voting record during the presidency of George W. Bush, when Republicans were the House majority, it tells tell a similar tale: He supported Bush’s position 87 percent of the time, from 2001-2006.” [Missoulian, 3/4/12]

[NARRATOR:] Remember this from Jon Tester? [TESTER:]” Washington has lost its way and we need to set it right.” [NARRATOR:] But in Washington, Tester’s way is Obama’s way. Tester voted with President Obama 97 percent of the time. Tester voted for Obama’s trillion-dollar deficits, for cap-and-trade – a massive energy tax – and for budget-busting Obamacare. Tell Jon Tester: Obama’s way is the wrong way for Montana. Tell him to say no to Obama’s proposed trillion-dollar deficit. [Crossroads GPS via, 4/25/12]