Social Question

ETpro's avatar

Why do people fall for claims that our budget problem's are the President's fault?

Asked by ETpro (34600points) January 4th, 2013

Check this claim and this one and this for a small sampling of the litany of lies.

The problem with these claims is that there’s this amazing document called the US Constitution. Most Americans have heard of it, but apparently few even among our congressmen and op-ed writers know what it actually says, and that leaves them vulnerable to political hucksters and their litany of lies. Don’t you think that all American voters really should read the Constitution? Doing so just might calm the common paranoid fears about an Obama takeover and presidential spending run amok.

OK, most Americans do know about the Second Amendment, or at least one selected part of it, and little bits and scraps from the First Amendment. But they really ought to study the whole Constitution. You see, it assigns the power of the purse ONLY to Congress. And Congress has been spending a whole lot more than it takes in with taxes for quite some time now. In fact, it began doing that under our wonderful Ronald Reagan. At Reagan’s request, Congress slashed the top tax rate by 60% and drastically increased government spending. We’re now taxing at the lowest rate as a percent of GDP since 1958. Now some may not have thought about it, but the nation has grown in population and technology in the past 55 years. Logically, it’s government today is going to be more costly than government was shortly after the end of WWII.

As terrifying as that wicked, evil Obama may be, he can’t spend money. He can’t set tax rates. Per this Constitution that I mentioned, that power rests with Congress and the spending part rests specifically with the House, where all budget bills must originate. Sadly, we have a Speaker for the majority party in the House who apparently hasn’t read the Constitution either. He’s somehow gotten himself convinced that his failure to develop a fiscally sound budget is all somebody else’s fault. Maybe Obama should do it, or Harry Reid. Maybe Vladimir Putin should take a stab at it, or we could retain a fortune teller to figure it out. But certainly not John Boehner and congressional Republicans. Because them doing it would be doing their job, and that might take time away from endless fundraising and loitering with lobbyists to rake in their lucrative rewards.

Just about everybody agrees that government is currently broken. The 112th Congress did the least of any Congress in modern history and garnered an approval rating of 12%. The Flu virus has a higher approval than that! How do we fix broken government without the voters knowing what good government is supposed to look like, what the US Constitution requires of it?

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34 Answers

Pachy's avatar

I believe that in part it’s code, as are so many other negative things that have been said about Mr. Obama, for racial prejudice. Also, as a former president, Harry Truman, once said, ‘The buck stops here,” any president is a lightning rod for anything anybody doesn’t like about our government.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

It’s probably easier to point a finger at one guy who is the top dog. Most people in the US probably can’t tell you how many members are in the House or Senate or how they handle budget bills.

Pandora's avatar

Only two words. FOX NEWS.

jerv's avatar

I am with @Adirondackwannabe on this; it’s easier to blame one person than it is to blame 535. And it’s also easy to see how one may think that the President has more power than Congress as he is the Executive branch while a Senator requires the support of at least 49 other Senators to have their way.

The key is education, but many who are of the mindset you outline are not much for that as education costs money (more government spending, and higher taxes), and some of them are anti-intellectual anyways. Unless/until we fix voter ignorance, we’re fucked.

FutureMemory's avatar

Because he’s black, and everyone knows black people are terrible with money.

DrBill's avatar

It is one of the perks of the office, blame for everything wrong, no credit for everything right.

Ron_C's avatar

I just had that conversation today. I told the guy that all the president can do is propose a budget. Only the house of representative actually control the money. It works well for them. Did you ever notice that a guy that barely had enough money to run a campaign is a millionaire before he leaves Congress.

zenvelo's avatar

Presidents always seem to get blamed for the economy. As Bill Clinton said when running for Prez, “It’s the economy, stupid!”

I agree the blame should go on Congress. When I saw all the pork in the Fiscal Cliff bill, I was amazed at their audacity.

Jaxk's avatar

That’s quite an interesting question or should I say rant?. It is almost amusing that you say All Budget Bills must Originate in the House. We just passed the tax and spend bill that originated in the Senate. So much for rules. The problem is that if there is no penalty, the law means nothing. For instance by law the Senate is required to create a budget every year but with no penalty, they haven’t created one in 4 years. Frankly, this whole question sounds like another Obama, “it’s not my fault” speech. And how do you use that ‘Hockey Stick’ graph on spending to defend Obama. Even if you fault congress, it was an entirely Democratic congress that put Obama’s policies in place which created the dramatic rise in spending.

You take great pains in telling us that the President is not responsible for the spending or taxes and then go on to blame Reagan for your perceived imbalance. If you blame Reagan, shouldn’t you also blame Obama?

And finally, taxes are not the lowest in 70 years. In fact they are very similar (slightly higher) than they were in the early 90s. Hell even you hockey stick graph shows that misstatement.

BBawlight's avatar

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed.”
My History teacher (He is a really great teacher. He knows what he’s talking about and is able to see through the lies. I hold a high amount of respect for this man) has this quote by Thomas Jefferson taped up on his wall. It clearly states that if we want to be free, we must be informed about our government.
I think that people blame Obama for everything that goes wrong because, in their eyes, he is the highest ranking government official. He apparently handles everything. Which is mostly where they are in the wrong.
It’s pretty much the whole government’s fault that we’re in this rut, as well as the American People’s.
We expect them to handle everything for us. We expect all these great things to come from our government, but we don’t know enough about how they work to choose the right people to put in office.

Linda_Owl's avatar

Mostly they blame Obama because the general public has no idea how our government works. Also, there is an undercurrent of racism in the attitudes of a lot of people, especially in the southern states. A lot of people do not trust Obama because he is not white. If the new Congressional members do not do a better job, we are going to be in a world of hurt. The Republicans & the Democrats are so far apart in their beliefs, that it is going to take extraordinary measures in order to help the average American.

majorrich's avatar

Because it’s been too long ago for it to be Bush’s fault. LOL

ETpro's avatar

@Pachyderm_In_The_Room Indeed Truman did say that. Unfortunately, it rings hollow when the buck never arrives in the oval office for signing. The 112th Congress has been uniquely unnable to pass any budget bill, So far, government has been limping along on one after another continuing resolutions and stopgap actions. Can kicking, always a popular activity in Washington, has risen to an unheard of level of popularity in this enormously unpopular Congress.

@Adirondackwannabe Thanks. Makes perfect sense.

@Pandora Fox News is a major part of the problem. Real news organizations fire employees for even contributing to a partisan cause. At the height of the 2012 campaign, Fox had over 30 contributors or show hosts who were employed by a Republican candidate’s as paid campaign staff. The President of Fox News, Roger Ailes, worked for as a consultant for Republican presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush and for Rudy Giuliani’s mayoral election committee. Fox is as much a propaganda operation for the Right as Pravda was for the Soviet left.

@jerv How true. A case of needing to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps so we can earn enough money to buy ourselves some boots.

@FutureMemory Yes, particularly the solid red South seems to feel that way.

@DrBill Ha! I suppose you’re right. Take your perks where you find them. :-)

@Ron_C How true. I only wish I’d realized the millionaire connection back when I was young enough to set myself up for a run.

@zenvelo Yeah, Bill Clinton’s slogan was based on bull puckey, but it worked just fine with an electorate that are mostly coprophagous.

jerv's avatar

@ETpro Every dollar us working class folks get is stolen from the pockets of some executive who works harder than any thousand plebeians :p

@BBawlight Precisely so. And worse than not knowing enough to put the right people into office, we actually pride ourselves on putting the wrong people in! As a person who favors incompetence over malignancy, I suspect that we would be better off with random selection than with elections.

Pachy's avatar

By the way, I totally agree with your comment on my Truman reference,

gondwanalon's avatar

This seems more like madness than economics to me. No one is responsible for our economic problems. That’s the problem.

Economics is likely the only field in which two people can each receive the Nobel Prize for saying the opposite thing. Politics is a field in which ideologues will furiously argue for and blindly follow one or the other to the death while not understanding either.

ETpro's avatar

@Jaxk A tax bill is not a budget. The House must originate budget bills. It is customary, though not constitutionally required, for presidents to submit a recommended budget. But Congress is in no way bound to adopt such a proposal, and when there is divided government, they seldom do.

If you read carefully what I said, it was that Reagan “recommended” his budget and tax plans to Congress and they, being in the same party, willingly went along.

Jaxk's avatar


C’mon, lets not play the spin game. Article 1 section 7 clause 1 “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.” That’s pretty straightforward. The Senate used the ‘Shell Game’ to bypass this requirement but it is not a ‘Budget’ requirement.

Budget bills are another issue. The “Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974” was created specifically to address the budget problems we are seeing today. It was intended to address the problems created by continuing resolutions, debt ceiling, and the disconnect between spending and revenues. It requires both the house and the Senate to create budgets. The problem Obama has and I suspect the reason that we have not adhered to this law, is that the president doesn’t get a vote. That is the president can’t veto a budget resolution. Once passed by the House and Senate, it takes affect. Naturally Obama wouldn’t like that.

As for your Reagan comment, isn’t that the same as Obama. He pushed the Stimulus, Healthcare, affordable housing, cash for clunkers, unemployment extensions, and on and on. And of course the democratic congress willingly went along. So naturally he gets the blame the same as all other presidents do. Why do you insist that he is somehow special and shouldn’t be blamed for the things he’s done?

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk “Why do you insist that he is somehow special and shouldn’t be blamed for the things he’s done?”
For the same reason W gets no blame for anything from your side of the fence.

DrBill's avatar

…as opposed to those who blame everything on W…

Jaxk's avatar


I think you have a very selective memory. I credit or blame Bush for whatever he did. I blame Bush for overspending. I blame him for the prescription drug benefit that we couldn’t afford. I credit him for the two wars. I blame him for the extended length of those wars. I credit him for the recovery from the DotCom bust and 9/11. I blame him for the creation of the Homeland Security Dept.

That being said, I don’;t blame him for the recession of 2008. Until I see some connection between his policies and the recession, I won’t. You can argue with whether there is blame or credit deserved with each of these but you should be able to assign the same consistency to your own views to the issues on Obama. And remember that if you want to blame congress for Obama’s failures, the Democrats took over Congress in 2007. They must share some blame for the recession in 2008. Mustn’t they?

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk There is plenty of blame to go around, and you are actually much more fair about it than many of your ilk that I have talked to. That is why I respect you even though I often disagree with you.

ETpro's avatar

@Jaxk My bad, my friend. Here I had read the Constitution, and yet fell afoul of how news media covered it. They said all “budget” bills and I didn’t go back to check the actual language. You are quite right.

Regarding vetos of budget bills, however, Bush did it and it was not challenged on Constitutional grounds. The problem with such a veto is that it tends to antagonize the very legislative body a president must depend on to provide him funding for those things he does want to do.

I’d agree with you that some sort of action was warranted in Afghanistan. It just should have been a brief and concentrated effort to defang al Qieda and the Taliban, not a dozen year nation-building effort. I disagree that there was any good reason for the Iraq war. That one, the more costly of the two, we could have easily sat out. Fighting it tightened the Shiite noose around our ally, Israel. I see it as an extremely costly blunder.

Ron_C's avatar

@Jaxk The fact that Reagan and his congress approved the money policy with which we suffer today put the blame directly on his shoulders. The fact that the problem was fixed by Clinton is mostly luck and the the judicious use of doing nothing to upset the improvement of our economy’

If Bush didn’t squander the surplus and engage in two tremendous wars on credit we would not be in this problem today.

I place ALL of the problems with today;s economy on Reagan,Bush, and the spineless congresses that supported and approved their squandering of American lives and fortunes.

I hope the christians are right so Reagan should be spending eternity suffering for the damage to his country and the many he killed in surreptitious war crimes in South America and Bush is due an even harsher sentence for the hundreds of thousands dead and injured directly because of his war policies.

Jaxk's avatar


The war efforts are always debatable. We’ll never know what would have happened on the road we didn’t take. We dropped two atomic bombs on Japan to end WWII. They killed more than 100,000 civilians instantly and another 100,000 within the next few years from the exposure. Estimates say we saved more than a million lives by this action but we’ll never know.

The middle east is a complex problem with too many interlocking pieces. What would have happened if we had done things differently, Great fodder for speculation.

gondwanalon's avatar

I just saw this quote that says so much:

“There are two ways to conquer and enslave a country. One is by the sword. The other is by debt.” -John Adams

ETpro's avatar

@Jaxk You won’t get any argument from me on the uncertainty of the road not traveled. But I will argue that there was no compelling reason to fight the Iraq war and that so far, it has delivered nothing remotely close to justifying its cost in blood and treasure.

jerv's avatar

@ETpro There is also the point where the White House ignored the generals, sent in half as much as was needed to do the job quickly, and thus assured a long, protracted engagement with much death and profit.

Ron_C's avatar

I spent the last couple of weeks talking to veterans of the Iraq wars and the war in Afghanistan. Most of the felt that the only reason we were in those countries was to exploit its resources. From Iraq we want the oil, from Afghanistan we want their mineral wealth and the poppies so the CIA can bring more people under control with their drugs.

One guy said “why not tell the truth, plant our flag in the middle of the country and declare it a territory of the U.S Anybody that disagrees dies.” These soldiers were willing to do what it would take to completely pacify the country including mass genocide. They are just completely tired of being shot at and hated. They now hate the people they are forced to protect.

Nullo's avatar

Might have a little bit to do with the President’s bookkeeping duties.

Ron_C's avatar

I think that a lot of people forget that it is the House of Representatives, not the President that actually make a budget and pass it as law. The president can only suggest a budget or veto one passed to him. I believe that it has been several years since an actual budget was developed and signed. The primary reason for this is that the House majority votes against ANYTHING the President suggests. Hell, they can’t even accept his nominations for judges or other offices!

jerv's avatar

@Ron_C Actually, they can. Quite a few have passed with near unanimous bipartisan support after the Democrats capitulate on an unrelated issue. It’s merely obstructionist extortion.

Pachy's avatar

You hear a lie enough times and it becomes truth.

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