Obama's deficit of trust

Suggests uncertainty in 2009 to blame for broken promise, but reiterated pledge just last year

February 15, 2012

President Obama has admitted that his most recent budget, the most expensive in United States history, fails to live up to his promise to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term.

The president defended his broken promise in an interview with a local news outlet in Atlanta, Ga., saying: "Well, we’re not there because this recession turned out to be a lot deeper than any of us realized."

"Everybody who is out there back in 2009, if you look back what their estimates were in terms of how many jobs had been lost, how bad the economy had contracted when I took office, everybody underestimated it," Obama said. "A lot of us didn’t understand at that point how bad it was going to get."

It is certainly true that many underestimated the extent of the country’s financial problems in 2009. But Obama’s claim that a lack of foresight three years ago is to blame for his failure to fulfill a critical promise is undermined by the president’s own remarks just last year.

Obama reiterated his pledge to halve the deficit as recently as February 2011, well after the full extent of the recession had been learned, and well after the president’s policies had begun to take effect.

"When I sworn in as president, I pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term," he said at the Feb. 14, 2011 press conference announcing the release of his fiscal year 2012 budget. "The budget I’m proposing meets that pledge, and puts us on a path to pay for what we spend by the middle of the decade."

While it is unclear what might have changed with respect to the administration’s economic projections over the past year, the president’s recent comments raise questions as to when he first realized his deficit pledge was unlikely to be met, and whether he misled the American people by reiterating that pledge so recently.

"If the President’s excuse is that he didn’t know how bad the recession was going to be, why was he still making the same promise in 2011?" a GOP congressional aide tells the Free Beacon. "Why didn’t he come clean once he knew how bad things were going to be?"