Call him President Buyin’. As the White House credits President Joe Biden for maintaining his commitment to “fiscal responsibility,” the federal deficit will rise from $1 trillion in 2022 to $2 trillion in 2023.
His White House is anytime money and has the fiscal record to prove it. If there is one constant in this most inconstant of administrations, it is their predilection for spending. There is no problem so small that massive amounts of money cannot be thrown at it, and no problem so large that even more cannot fix it.
On March 9, the Biden administration issued the ultimate in chutzpah. Claiming Biden was delivering on his commitment to fiscal responsibility, the White House stated: “Because of the strength of the recovery and responsible winding down of emergency programs, the deficit fell by $1.7 trillion in the first two years of the Biden-Harris Administration.”
Of course, it conveniently failed to mention that Biden accomplished this fiscal feat by cutting off the inflated budget baseline of the Covid-19 era.
Just six months later, the Congressional Budget Office had stuck a pin into Biden’s budget balloon. On Sept. 11, CBO wrote in its August Monthly Budget Review: “the deficit is on track to double from $1.0 trillion in 2022 to $2.0 trillion in 2023.” So much for “delivering on his commitment to fiscal responsibility.”
Looking back, the administration’s braggadocio of six months ago seems the height of cynicism. The president’s estimators and spokespeople had to have known this was coming — that the evidence of fiscal failure was on the way, even as they raised a fanfare. It was tantamount to an obese person putting one foot on the scale and claiming to have lost weight. Yet when you know what a full measure will mean, you claim your victories whenever and however you can concoct them.
Biden’s abysmal deficit record is the result of his astronomical spending. It is even more remarkable in light of the enormous growth in federal revenues since 2020 — thanks in large part to Republicans’ pro-growth tax reform in 2017.
First, let’s look at the spending. According to CBO’s February 2023 estimate, the federal government spent $6.554 trillion in 2020, $6.822 trillion in 2021, and $6.271 trillion in 2022. Spending barely moved from its crisis peak, dropping a mere 4 percent during the time Democrats controlled Congress and the White House.
Now, let’s look at federal revenues. According to CBO, the federal government took in $3.421 trillion in 2020. From there they grew. In 2021, federal revenues shot up 18 percent to $4.047 trillion. In 2022, they rose another 21 percent to $4.896 trillion. Together these amount to a 43 percent increase over 2020’s total.
So, while Democrats controlled all three legs of the legislative stool — the presidency, the House, and the Senate — spending barely budged while revenues exploded. And still “the deficit is on track to double from $1.0 trillion in 2022 to $2.0 trillion in 2023.”
The magnitude of this failure is even clearer when you look past the administration’s original false claim. Notice that they used the height of the Covid-19 catastrophe to measure their “victory.”
When your house burns, you don’t hire builders to simply make it better than when it was on fire. You hire them to return it to its original condition. Instead, the Biden administration wanted a round of applause for the house looking better than when it was aflame.
The Biden administration’s 2022 spending was 41 percent more than in 2019, when the federal government spent $4.447 trillion. Its 2022 revenues were 41.4 percent higher than the $3.463 trillion the federal government collected in 2019. And its 2022 deficit was 40 percent higher than the $984 billion shortfall in 2019.
Biden and company have been on a spending spree that only 2020’s catastrophic numbers can make look photogenic. The ultimate evidence is that federal debt increased about 16 percent in the two years after 2020. This does not count the additional debt that CBO projects will come in this fiscal year’s final tally.
Nor does it count all the additional spending the administration sought in its Build Back Better (Big Budget Buster) proposal. And it does not count all the additional spending promises that Biden will wheel out in his bid to buy his way back into office next year.
This is a “say something,” “do anything,” and “spend everything” administration. And it has the fiscal failure to prove it.