the next president, whoever he is, will probably inherit a budget that is at least $500 billion out of balance -- a record sum that will limit his ability to do any of the wonderful things being promised daily in the upbeat rhetoric of the campaign.It's big, but it's not a record in any sense besides the nominal. The (humongous PDF) FY09 budget historical tables projected a FY09 deficit of about $407 billion, which would have been about 2.7% of GDP. So let's assume that $500 billion will be about 3.4% of GDP. As a percentage of GDP, that's smaller than two of Bush's deficits, smaller than all four of Bush Sr.'s deficits, smaller than five of Reagan's deficits, and smaller than both of Ford's deficits.
On the other hand, it's bigger than all of Carter's deficits and all of Clinton's deficits. Especially since Clinton racked up four surpluses.
There's a lesson there, for anyone with ears to hear. Not that many from the media are likely to point it out.
At any rate, Obama's main goals aren't to provide 'goodies,' even if they will ultimately improve the lives of Americans. He wants to get the U.S. out of Iraq, which will save us about $100 billion a year, starting a couple years down the road. That helps reduce the deficit. He wants to deal with global warming, through fully auctionable cap-and-trade permits. Dealing with global warming is far more urgent than dealing with the deficit (seems worth bolding, since the Broders of the world can't quite grasp this notion), but the cap-and-trade permit auctions will bring money into the Treasury, so they help reduce the deficit too.
Obama also wants to bring us closer to universal health care. With any luck, Congressional Dems will win this debate, and create a genuinely universal system that enables the government to get a handle on costs, just as England, France, Germany, Canada, the Scandinavian countries, etc., etc. have done. So that would also be a twofer.
McCain, on the other hand, wants to hand out even more tax cuts to rich people on top of what Bush has already passed. He would explode the deficit.
So if Broder's all so hep on fiscal responsibility, he's got one pretty good choice, and one absolutely catastrophic choice. But he's too 'evenhanded' to say so.