Isn’t it cute that Republicans in Congress suddenly have this pang of responsibility towards our nation’s fiscal health? Doesn’t it sound great when they say that they’re the ones with all the answers? And the sound bites of Republican lawmakers blaming Barack Obama and his administration for the current budget deficit sure sound like good arguments. Until you actually do some digging and realize that they’re completely and totally full of it.
The Republicans would have the nation believe that they’re the party of fiscal responsibility, and that the Democrats are the ones who are digging the hole even deeper. But where were the Republicans when the country went from a budget surplus to a budget deficit? And who was in charge back then?
Oh yeah! I remember………..
Recall that in January 2001, George W. Bush was inaugurated and inherited an estimated $236.4 billion budget surplus. Dubya actually thought that was a bad thing, so he declared that American’s needed a refund! To make himself look like a hero, he cut taxes and immediately sent out refund checks. A pretty neat trick, and good politics, but not very good policy. It’s kind of like when Sarah Palin took all the credit when she handed out record checks through the Alaska Permanent Fund……payments to Alaska residents from the oil and gas companies who made record profits that year, thus resulting in record “dividend” checks to Alaska residents.
But it was on Palin’s watch, so Palin gets all the credit, right? But I digress……..
Point is that Dubya’s two rounds of tax cuts were the largest contributor to the explosion in the national deficit and debt during his tenure. I’ve written about it before here, complete with some nifty graphs to prove the point.
Republicans LOVE to cry about how the Obama Administration has exploded spending and presided over a huge increase in the budget deficit, which now stands at about $1.5 trillion. But here are a few things that Repubs conveniently forget:
- The bulk of the initial Obama stimulus came in the form of middle class tax cuts. The entire 2009 stimulus package included about $300 billion in tax cuts, the largest ever. During the first two years of the Obama Administration, Americans paid the lowest level of taxes in our history. AND they were unpaid for. So if Republicans want to call the stimulus package a failure, then they must also acknowledge that their beloved strategy of cutting taxes, and cutting taxes, and cutting taxes again, is an abysmal failure.
- The debt and deficit under Bush II was bad enough, and was caused primarily by the Bush tax cuts, as I’ve already noted. Obama’s tax cuts certainly won’t help matters. But there are a couple of things that Obama accounted for in his budget and put on the record that Bush did not; two little things that cost the U.S. an awful lot of money, are not paid for, and were not accounted for in ANY of the Bush II era budgets: The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s right, Bush never accounted for his “global war on terror” in the budget, choosing to sidestep that little pratfall by issuing supplemental funding bills. Both wars have cost the United States well over $1 trillion, but it was only since 2009 that they were put into the government’s budget, which accounts for a significant portion of the spike in the deficit, but was always calculated into the debt. That’s hardly Obama’s fault, unless you think he should have pulled the same parlor trick Bush did and kept it off the books.
- But wait! There’s more! In 2006, Bush implemented his Medicare prescription drug act, and of course he didn’t pay for it. That bill, we were told, would cost a mere $395 billion (without provisions to actually pay for it). But the administration deliberately hid the REAL projected cost of over $550 billion from the public. Come to find out that the ACTUAL cost of the bill is closer to $1 trillion, still unpaid for. But this was a Republican bill ushered through with parliamentary tricks and arm twisting that led to ethics investigations by a Republican Congress, a Republican Senate, and a Republican White House.
None of this was Barack Obama’s or the Democrats’ doing. It was all on the Republicans, and now they want to conveniently point the finger at the Dems……..and with the TEA Party’s help, they’ve managed to snow under the gullible voters of the country into thinking that they’re capable of making things better. What a sad, sad commentary about the state of the American electorate……..but again, I digress.
So now here we are again, with Congressional Republicans again insisting—unbelievably—that they can restore fiscal responsibility to the U.S. government, and do so by cutting spending, cutting taxes, and coddling their wealthy benefactors and exempting them from paying any more than the record low dues they’ve become accustomed to during the Bush years. And Repubs are selling us the same bill of goods they sold us six years ago, and for some reason the electorate is still buying it, despite the mountain of evidence that they’re completely, 1000% WRONG!
Meanwhile, since retaking the House last fall, they have done nothing—Not. One. Thing—to address their campaign talking point of “jobs, jobs, jobs.” And they care so much about the budget and the deficit that they’ve done nothing—Not. One. Thing—that will address the shortfalls in either.
Republicans are not-so-conveniently-for-us blaming the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats for the mess that they themselves created when they had control of the House, the Senate, and the White House. They are excellent at revisionist history, especially with the aid of their communications arm, Fox News. What they are not good at is governing, and they’re proving it yet again. So the question is, “when will the people who sent them to Washington learn the difference?”