President Barack Obama said the country isn’t facing a spending or deficit problem, only an ideological problem from Republicans who want to cut government programs for health care and children.
President Barack Obama answers a question during a town hall meeting at Binghamton University in New York, Aug. 23, 2013. Obama is on a two-day bus tour through New York and Pennsylvania to discuss his plan to make college more affordable, tackle rising costs and improve value for students and their families. (Getty Images)
“We don’t have an urgent deficit crisis,” Obama said Friday at a town hall meeting on the campus of Binghamton University in Binghamton, N.Y. “The only crisis we have is the one that is manufactured in Washington and it's ideological and the basic notion is that we shouldn’t be helping people get health care and we shouldn’t be helping kids who can’t help themselves and whose parents are under resourced, we shouldn’t be helping them get a leg up.”
The assertion is similar to a Wall Street Journal report earlier this year about a conversation between Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, in which Boehner said Obama told him, “We don’t have a spending problem.”
In Binghamton Friday, Obama was responding to a question from the audience about federal funding for the Head Start program.
“So some of the proposals we’ve seen now are talking about even deeper cuts in programs like head start, even deeper cuts in education support, even deeper cuts it basic science and research and that’s like eating your corn seed,” Obama said. “It’s like being penny wise and pound foolish.”
Before dismissing even the notion of a deficit problem, Obama said that under his administration the federal deficit has decreased – something he said the “average person” doesn’t realize.
“As the economy has improved, the deficit is going down,” the president told the university audience. “It has now dropped at the fastest rate in 60 years. I want to repeat that because a lot of people think – if you ask the average person what’s happening with the deficit, they’d tell you it’s going up. The deficit has been cut in half since 2009 and is on a downward trajectory and it’s going down faster than at any time since World War II.”
The president went on to credit the new health care law for deficit reduction.
“So we don’t have a problem in terms of spending on education. We don’t have a problem when it comes to spending on research and development,” Obama said. “We do have a long term problem that has to do with out health care programs Medicare and Medicaid. The good news is in part because of the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, have gone up at the slowest rate we’ve seen in a long time. So we’re starting to get health care costs under control. We’ll still have to make some modifications when it comes to long term entitlement programs so that they’re there for young people here when they are ready for retirement.”
Obama’s predecessor George W. Bush did not reach $1 trillion in deficits until his final fiscal year in office, fiscal year 2009. The budget deficit has been more than $1 trillion for each year Obama has been in office until fiscal year 2013.
The budget deficit is projected to be $972.9 billion for fiscal year 2013 – the first time since fiscal year 2008 the budget deficit has been under $1 trillion, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget historical tables.
The Congressional Budget Office projected the federal deficit to drop to $642 billion in the long term outlook from 2013 to 2023.