What would the deficit be if McCain were president?

August 25, 2009

Bruce Bartlett, who has a new booking coming out, was nice enough to run some budget numbers so I wouldn’t have to:

I was looking through the new CBO projections and saw a point worth emphasizing.

CBO projected a deficit of $1,186 billion in January before Obama took office.  It now projects a deficit of $1,587 billion, an increase of $401 billion.  If one goes through the March update (pp. 6-7) and the August update (pp. 52-53) and adds up all the changes to the January estimate, you find that the deficit increase since January consists of $46 billion in lower than expected revenues due to the economy (11.5%), $129 billion in higher spending due to technical re-estimates (32.2%), and $226 billion due to legislative changes to both spending and revenues (56.3%).

This suggests that we would have had a deficit of at least $1,361 billion this year even if McCain had won (January deficit plus lower revenues and technical changes and no legislative changes)—assuming no stimulus and assuming that the economy would have done as well as it has done without it.  That’s only 14% less than the deficit currently projected. And keep in mind that some of the legislative changes are due to higher defense spending and other non-stimulus related programs.

But McCain undoubtedly would have supported some sort of fiscal stimulus.  It might have been more tax- than spending-oriented, but would have increased the deficit nevertheless.  If we assume that McCain’s stimulus would have been half the size of Obama’s that leaves us with an estimated deficit of $1,474 billion under McCain—only 7% less than the deficit now estimated.


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Not that any of these numbers will make a dent to Neo-Cons bent on uncovering Obamanomics as both fascist and socialist at the same time. And for the record, Obama was born in America, McCain was not. HAH!

Posted by the Shah | Report as abusive

Obama will succeed in destroying the USA we know. Congrats to all that voted for him without understanding what “Hope” and “Change” really meant.

Posted by Hammy Sammy | Report as abusive

I think your analysis has some pretty large assumptions when you say that the economy would’ve done just as well without a stimulus and guess at how much stimulus McCain would’ve committed.

Posted by drewbie | Report as abusive

The article makes a whole myriad of blanket assumptions about the deficit, but ignores some fundamental differences that also have enormous implications on the overall economy. Without the radical- pro-abortion agenda, there would be millions of people who would earn income, pay taxes and pay into social security. Under McCain, he wouldn’t penalize the biggest sources of energy we have, thus increasing our dependence on foreign oil, and losing more US jobs. We wouldn’t have a major socialized medicine agenda that will cost another 10 trillion, with tax payers-funded abortions. We wouldn’t have the most leftist, liberal, socialist member of the senate selling our country down the river, either. More change than we can stand.

Posted by Loren Ozanne | Report as abusive

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