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"The people who cast the votes don't decide an election; the people who COUNT the votes do." -- Joseph Stalin

Monday, February 23, 2009

Obama Speaks Out on Fiscal Responsibility


President Barack Obama took aim at the “casual dishonesty” of Bush administration budgets Monday, saying he’ll abandon accounting “tricks” used to hide the ballooning deficit and pledging to cut a $1.3 trillion federal shortfall in half during his first term.

I want to be very clear,” Obama said to open a “fiscal responsibility summit” at the White House. “We cannot and will not sustain deficits like these without end. Contrary to the prevailing wisdom in Washington these past few years, we cannot simply spend as we please and defer the consequences to the next budget, the next administration and the next generation.”

In his brief remarks, Obama returned several times to criticism of past budget practices that clearly was aimed at President George W. Bush’s administration, suggesting the former president and his team weren’t candid with the American people about the scope of the budget difficulties.

At one point, Obama criticized “the casual dishonesty of hiding irresponsible spending with clever accounting tricks, the costly overruns, the fraud and abuse, the endless excuses. This is exactly what the American people rejected when they went to the polls. They sent us here to usher in a new era of responsibility in Washington, to start living within our means again and being straight with them about where their tax dollars are going.”

Obama also made clear that he believe he was inheriting the current budget mess from Bush — even though roughly a quarter of the $1.3 trillion deficit stems directly from Obama’s recently economic stimulus package.

Still, Obama said he would break from several of Bush’s practices in building his own 10-year budget being released Thursday. Obama said he would put the full cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars on the budget, and allocate money for natural disasters – two things Bush did not do.

We do ourselves no favors by hiding the truth about what we spend. In order to address our fiscal crisis, we have to be candid about its scope,” Obama said.

Failure to act quickly and decisively, Obama said, “we risk sinking into another crisis down the road, as . . .our bills come due, confidence in our economy erodes and our children and grandchildren [suffer].”


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