In his syndicated column this week, economist Thomas Sowell reminds us of something we all should have learned in high school civics class: presidents don't create spending bills.
"No President of the United States can create either a budget deficit or a budget surplus," Sowell writes. "All spending bills originate in the House of Representatives and all taxes are voted into law by Congress."
So he reminds us:
Democrats controlled both houses of Congress before Barack Obama became president. The deficit he inherited was created by the Congressional Democrats, including Senator Barack Obama, who did absolutely nothing to oppose the runaway spending. He was one of the biggest of the big spenders.
The last time the federal government had a budget surplus, Bill Clinton was president, so it was called "the Clinton surplus." But Republicans controlled the House of Representatives, where all spending bills originate, for the first time in 40 years. It was also the first budget surplus in more than a quarter of a century.
Sure, presidents can be held accountable for not vetoing spending (Bush). But Sowell points out that those bills have to originate somewhere.
His is a good lesson to keep in mind as we head toward November. Obama's campaign manager is already parading out the "inherited" rhetoric, and more are sure to follow.