Morris fudges budget numbers while grading Obama's first year

Purporting to grade President Obama's first year in office, Dick Morris falsely attributed to Obama all of the federal spending and deficit from fiscal year 2009, which began in October 2008. Morris therefore ignored spending that took place under President Bush from October 1, 2008, to January 20, 2009, including significant outlays committed by the federal government in response to the recession, as well as the impact of the recession itself on the federal budget.

Attributing Bush-era spending to Obama, Morris says he “disapprove[s]” of Obama's year in office

From the January 20 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:

GRETCHEN CARLSON: The Rasmussen daily presidential approval rating says this, that 51 percent of Americans disapprove of his first year of performance. Forty-eight percent approve. It's a pretty even split. Where do you fall on this?

MORRIS: Well, disapprove, and I think that more and more people are going to be disapproving.You can't look at our disarmament in the face of terror, at the tripling, tripling, of the budget deficit, taking the national debt that we've had from the very beginning of this republic to now and growing it from 9 trillion to 12.3 trillion in one year. He took federal spending from 3 trillion to 4 trillion in one year. And what that's doing is retarding the recovery, increasing unemployment, a huge risk of inflation coming. I mean, if this guy doesn't - I'm glad he won the Nobel prize for peace because he sure would never win it for economics.

Morris' figures on national debt are off by over a trillion dollars

Total national debt was $10.6 trillion when Obama took office. Contrary to Morris' claim that Obama increased the national debt “from 9 trillion to 12.3 trillion in one year,” the total debt was $10.6 trillion on January 20, 2009, when Obama was inaugurated, according to a TreasuryDirect search. The TreasuryDirect data shows that the total debt, including intragovernmental holdings, surpassed $9 trillion in September 2007.

Claim that Obama tripled budget deficit ignores Bush's share of FY 2009 spending, impact of recession

Morris attributes Bush's TARP, Fannie and Freddie spending to Obama. Morris' claim that Obama is responsible for “the tripling, tripling, of the budget deficit” is based on the fact that the deficit for fiscal year 2008 was $454 billion and the deficit for fiscal year 2009 was $1.4 trillion. However, as Reuters noted, "[a]mong the most expensive items were $154 billion for bailouts under the Troubled Asset Relief Program" and "$91 billion for the Fannie and Freddie bailouts," both of which were approved under Bush.

FY 2009 figures reflect “the weakening economy and the federal response.” In a November 6, 2009, Monthly Budget Review, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cited “the weakening economy” as a significant factor in the increased budget deficit. CBO stated, “Receipts in 2009 tumbled to $2,105 billion, a decrease of $419 billion, or 17 percent, from 2008. That year-over-year decline follows a small drop in revenues for fiscal year 2008 and is the largest annual percentage decline in revenues in more than seven decades.” CBO further noted that "[p]ayments for unemployment benefits in 2009 were more than 2½ times the amount paid in 2008, an increase of $73 billion. That jump was caused by substantially greater unemployment and increased benefits" and excludes the cost of the increased benefits provided by Obama's Recovery act.

Morris also overstated FY 2009 federal spending

CBO: FY 2009 outlays were $3.5 trillion. Morris falsely claimed that Obama “took federal spending from 3 trillion to 4 trillion in one year,” adding that “what that's doing is retarding the recovery, increasing unemployment.” In fact, total spending in fiscal year 2009 was $3.5 trillion, according to CBO. Moreover, as noted above, much of this spending can be attributed to actions taken by Bush in response to the recession and to increased unemployment benefits that resulted automatically from the recession itself.