Clinton speech has some arithmetic issues


The Bowles-Simpson deficit commission did not make these same assumptions, so Clinton is stretching in making a comparison between Obama’s plan and the Bowles-Simpson Commission.

As the Center for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) has said, if you add in the same assumptions, the Bowles-Simpson plan would be $6.6 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years, not $4.3 trillion.

Clinton also did not mention that Obama does not have a plan on record to deal with the long-term growth of the debt in the next decade, mostly fueled by an explosion in Medicare spending due to the aging population.

While the Obama 2013 budget would stabilize the debt as a percentage of the economy, thereby checking its growth in the medium term, it does not to project a balanced budget. 

The House-passed budget would balance before 2040 in its own projections. Authored by vice presidential nominee Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanOn The Money: Senate confirms Gensler to lead SEC | Senate GOP to face off over earmarks next week | Top Republican on House tax panel to retire Trump faces test of power with early endorsements Lobbying world MORE, the plan would partially privatize Medicare to get savings and make deep cuts to Medicaid and food stamps.

The Ryan plan does differ from the sketch budget outlines from Romney. CRFB has estimated that in its most likely scenario, Romney’s plans would add to the deficit, mainly due to the size of his tax cuts and defense spending. Romney would add $250 billion to the deficit by 2021 in an intermediate scenario and as much as $2.2 trillion if he fails to close enough tax loopholes to pay for his cuts.

Republicans are pointing out that Obama’s budget won no votes in the House and Senate. The situation is more complicated than it seems. As a policy matter, the White House urged “no” votes on spending plans that just used the Obama numbers without the policy language accompanying it.

Politically, getting complete rejection was deemed better than seeing how badly the budget would split liberals, wanting more stimulus, and centrist Democrats, wanting more deficit reduction.