George Bush, deficit-fighter

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Okay, here’s my big problem with the budget that the Bush administration submitted to Congress yesterday. (No, I didn’t read all of it, but I did check out a few highlights.) It makes a big deal about getting rid of the federal deficit by 2012. But guess what: George Bush will have been out of office for three years by then–and the biggest projected reductions in the deficit in his budget all come after he leaves town.

This man gave us the deficit (remember, the federal government was running a surplus when he took office), and now he’s got some bold plans for his successor to get rid of it. Now that’s what I call a profile in fiscal courage.

I write this as someone who doesn’t think the size of the deficits we’ve been running is all that alarming, and kind of liked some of the Bush tax cuts. But claiming to embrace fiscal discipline after spending six years flouting it, then leaving the toughest decisions to the next president, is cheating. It’s also political genius, if the electorate lets you get away with it. But those days seem to be over.