two basic truths about the enormous deficits that the federal government will run in the coming years. The first is that President Obama’s agenda, ambitious as it may be, is responsible for only a sliver of the deficits, despite what many of his Republican critics are saying. The second is that Mr. Obama does not have a realistic plan for eliminating the deficit, despite what his advisers have suggested.Specifically, the business cycle (i.e. the economic downturn caused by deregulation, greed and stupidity) accounts for roughly 37% of the current deficit mess, while President Bush's programs and policies (like tax cuts for the rich and Medicare price supports) account for about 33% of our economic hole.
As for President Obama's contribution to the deficit, the NY Times is reporting that 20% can be partically attributed to the president because he has chosen to extend "several Bush policies, like the Iraq war and tax cuts for households making less than $250,000." Combined with the Wall Street bailout - "which was signed by Mr. Bush and supported by Mr. Obama — account for 20 percent of the swing" (click on the graph below to see the figures).
Interestingly, only about 10% of the current economic deficit mess can be directly attributed to President Obama, with the stimulus bill accounting for 7%, and President Obama’s agenda for health care, education, and energy proposals making up the remaining 3%.