In an ad that provides no details or citations, the National Rifle Association claims an unspecified “they” are “attacking our Second Amendment rights” before urging voters to support the Romney/Ryan ticket. But despite conservative fears, the only gun laws President Obama has signed expand – rather than restrict – gun rights. The ad’s other claims about “mountains of debt” and “new spending” are also misleading, since it was Bush-era policies and the recession that drove up the debt and spending growth under Obama has been low.
President Obama Has Not Restricted Gun Rights
Obama Has Signed No Laws Restricting Gun Rights. From the Christian Science Monitor: “Despite the perception is that Mr. Obama is anti-gun rights (gun shop owners say fear of his policies drives strong gun sales), he has repeatedly reaffirmed the right to bear arms. Indeed, the only gun-control laws he has signed as president have been to expand gun rights – allowing guns on national park lands and Amtrak trains. He also said this year that ‘hunting and shooting are part of a cherished national heritage.’” [Christian Science Monitor, 9/9/12]
As President, Obama Has Not Pushed For Gun Control Legislation, Including Renewal Of Assault Weapons Ban. According to the Associated Press: “Obama: Has not pushed for gun control measures as president. Signed laws letting people carry concealed weapons in national parks and in checked bags on Amtrak trains. Favors ‘robust steps, within existing law’ to address gun issues, White House says. Voices support for renewed ban on assault-type weapons but has not tried to get that done. Has not swung behind longshot Democratic bill, introduced after the Colorado movie theater shooting in July, to let only licensed dealers sell ammunition, require police to be notified after any sale of more than 1,000 rounds to an unlicensed person, and require buyers who aren’t licensed dealers to show a photo ID. [Associated Press via DeseretNews.com, 9/10/12]
- Following Gun Violence, Obama Called For Enforcing Laws Already On The Books, Not Creating New Ones. From Politico: “Unlike Clinton, Obama hasn’t sought major new gun laws in the wake of major acts of gun violence. After the January 2011 shooting in Tucson, Ariz., that left six people dead and 13 others injured, including Giffords, Obama made no public address specifically on the issue of guns. Instead, he called for more rigorous enforcement of current gun laws in an Arizona Daily Star op-ed that reiterated his support for the Second Amendment as the Supreme Court-affirmed ‘law of the land.’” [Politico, 7/19/12]
Obama Op-Ed: Second Amendment Is “The Law Of The Land,” And America Has “A Strong Tradition Of Gun Ownership.” From an op-ed by President Obama in the Arizona Daily Star: “Now, like the majority of Americans, I believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. And the courts have settled that as the law of the land. In this country, we have a strong tradition of gun ownership that’s handed from generation to generation. Hunting and shooting are part of our national heritage. And, in fact, my administration has not curtailed the rights of gun owners – it has expanded them, including allowing people to carry their guns in national parks and wildlife refuges.” [Obama Op-Ed via Arizona Daily Star, 3/13/11]
Obama Op-Ed: “Almost All Gun Owners In America Are Highly Responsible.” From an op-ed by President Obama in the Arizona Daily Star: “The fact is, almost all gun owners in America are highly responsible. They’re our friends and neighbors. They buy their guns legally and use them safely, whether for hunting or target shooting, collection or protection. And that’s something that gun-safety advocates need to accept.” [Obama Op-Ed via Arizona Daily Star, 3/13/11]
Bush Policies And Recession Caused Debt To Skyrocket
Prior To President Obama’s Inauguration, President Bush Had Already Created A Projected $1.2 Trillion Deficit For Fiscal Year 2009. From the Washington Times: “The Congressional Budget Office announced a projected fiscal 2009 deficit of $1.2 trillion even if Congress doesn’t enact any new programs. […] About the only person who was silent on the deficit projection was Mr. Bush, who took office facing a surplus but who saw spending balloon and the country notch the highest deficits on record.” [Washington Times, 1/8/09]
NYT: President Bush’s Policy Changes Created Much More Debt Than President Obama’s. The New York Times published the following chart comparing the fiscal impact of policies enacted under the Bush and Obama administrations:
[New York Times, 7/24/11]
Recession Added Hundreds Of Billions In Deficits By Increasing Spending On Safety Net While Shrinking Tax Revenue. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) explains: “When unemployment rises and incomes stagnate in a recession, the federal budget responds automatically: tax collections shrink, and spending goes up for programs like unemployment insurance, Social Security, and Food Stamps.” According to CBPP: “The recession battered the budget, driving down tax revenues and swelling outlays for unemployment insurance, food stamps, and other safety-net programs. Using CBO’s August 2008 projections as a benchmark, we calculate that the changed economic outlook alone accounts for over $400 billion of the deficit each year in 2009 through 2011 and slightly smaller amounts in subsequent years. Those effects persist; even in 2018, the deterioration in the economy since the summer of 2008 will account for over $300 billion in added deficits, much of it in the form of additional debt-service costs.” [CBPP.org, 11/18/10; CBPP.org, 5/10/11, citations removed]
Over The Coming Decade, The Bush Tax Cuts Are The Primary Cause Of Federal Budget Deficits. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities prepared a chart showing the deficit impact of the Bush tax cuts (orange), the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the recession itself, and spending to rescue the economy:
CBPP: Bush Tax Cuts And Wars Are Driving The Debt. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:
The complementary chart, below, shows that the Bush-era tax cuts and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars — including their associated interest costs — account for almost half of the projected public debt in 2019 (measured as a share of the economy) if we continue current policies.
[Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 5/20/11]
Spending Growth Under Obama Is Low
January 2009 (Pre-Obama): Federal Spending Projected To Spike To $3.5 Trillion Without Any Policy Changes. In January 2009, the Congressional Budget Office projected: “Without changes in current laws and policies, CBO estimates, outlays will rise from $3.0 trillion in 2008 to $3.5 trillion in 2009.” [Congressional Budget Office, “The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2009 to 2019,” January 2009]
Accounting For Inflation And President Obama’s Impact On FY 2009, Spending Will Have Grown By Just 1.7 Percent From 2009 To 2012. According to Michael Linden, Director of Tax and Budget Policy at the Center for American Progress:
[I]n January 2009, before President Obama had even taken office, the Congressional Budget Office projected that federal spending would exceed $3.5 trillion for fiscal year 2009, half a trillion more than the government spent in 2008. Again, that was BEFORE President Obama event took office. It’s reasonable to use that number as our best guess at what spending would have been in FY2009 under ANY president. […]
Of course, the CBO’s projections aren’t perfect. They change as the economy changes and as laws change. Fortunately, CBO also tells us in subsequent reports how and why its previous estimates have changed. We can use that to understand how much of the total federal spending in fiscal year 2009 was attributable to legislative changes that occurred AFTER President Obama took office.
The answer is that out of a total of $3.5 trillion actually spent in FY09, only $165 billion, less than 5 percent, was the result of policy changes signed into law by President Obama.
In other words, probably the best baseline against which to judge spending under Obama is $3.5 trillion (the amount actually spent in 2009) minus $165 billion (the added amount Obama himself actually approved): $3.35 trillion. This year, the CBO expects that the federal government will spend $3.6 trillion. After accounting for inflation, that’s a growth rate of just 1.7 percent. By comparison, and using the exact same methodology, spending in President Bush’s first term was up nearly 15 percent. [ThinkProgress.org, 5/25/12]
PolitiFact: Spending Growth Under Obama Is “Second-Slowest” In Recent History. According to PolitiFact: “Obama has indeed presided over the slowest growth in spending of any president [in recent history] using raw dollars, and the growth on his watch was the second-slowest if you adjust for inflation.” [PolitiFact.com, 5/23/12]
[NARRATOR:] Mountains of debt. Trillions in new spending. Multinational threats to our sovereignty. Chipping away at your rights. Chipping away at your freedom. And now, they’re attacking our Second Amendment rights. Chipping away at your future. But you can stop them right now. Vote Romney/Ryan November 6th. Romney and Ryan will defend our Second Amendment rights. The men and women of the NRA Political Victory Fund are responsible for this advertising. [NRA Political Victory Fund, 10/8/12]