Republicans and the Debt

Don’t be fooled by the two giant U.S. National Debt clocks at the Republican convention.  The clocks were as disingenuous as the crazed Right-wings attack dogs, like my new Facebook ‘friend’ I’ll call “Chili”.  Soon after posting a comment on my Facebook page about how New Jersey Governor Chris Christie stated in his convention speech that when it comes to the debt, “It doesn’t matter how we got here”, I pointed out that Republicans have been refusing to talk about “why the debt clock is ticking” and the policies behind the numbers. Soon after, Chili came to my Facebook page for the first time ever and went right into blaming President Obama for the national debt. In the past, I had sent Chili a few links, on a mutual friend’s page, proving that Obama has spent less than any other president in the last 60 years and his policies can attribute to only a small part of the overall national debt. However, Chili dug in his heals and continued to blame Obama for the debt and belittle me with lines like “Man…the fantasy world you live in”, your comment is “crap”, and you “lie”.

However, this article is not about the rabid attacks by folks like Chili used to deflect the debate away from the real issue. This article is about the question I posed on Facebook that invited Chili to attack me. I wrote, “Republicans don’t want to talk about why THEIR national debt clock is ticking. That is because the Republicans created that much of that debt and are now trying to blame it on Obama. Shame on Christie and the Republicans for deflecting their responsibility”. Chili countered my statement with the following comment, “The facts are Obama during his term has put this nation in larger debt th[a]n any other president! PERIOD! None of you[r] excuses rebuttals those are the facts!” Chili’s response is typical of Republicans and clearly the way they want to frame the debate. They claim “Obama has put this nation larger in debt than any other president”.  Really? The fact that Obama actually inherited this massive debt from policies passed by congresses and signed into law by previous presidents doesn’t factor into any of Chili’s response. I find the Right-wing line of attack blatantly dishonest.

According to a published paper analyzing the federal deficit by The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, "Some critics continue to assert that President George W. Bush’s policies bear little responsibility for the deficits the nation faces over the coming decade — that, instead, the new policies of President Barack Obama and the 111th Congress are to blame. Most recently, a Heritage Foundation paper downplayed the role of Bush-era policies (for more on that paper, see p. 4). Nevertheless, the fact remains: Together with the economic downturn, the Bush tax cuts and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq explain virtually the entire deficit over the next ten years”.

The next day at the Republican Convention, Vise Presidential candidate Paul Ryan gave a speech widely denounced for its blatant falsehoods. Included in the speech, Ryan boldly stated when it comes to the debit we should not about “inheritance”. There is a good reason why the Republicans don’t want to talk about inheritance.  According to the Center for American Progress, two-thirds of the national debt can be directly attributed to the legacy of George W. Bush and the Republican polices. In fact, 40% of our current debt is a result of tax cuts for the rich and the unfunded wars the Republican put on American’s credit card. Essentially, W. Bush and the Republicans kicked the cost can for the two previous wars onto Obama’s ledger, and now they perfidiously claim “Obama put the nation into debt”

The Center for American Progress goes on to attribute roughly 16% of the current national debt to Obama’s policies.  This debt mostly came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (otherwise known as Obama’s Stimulus Bill). It is important to note, that in spite of what Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and the rest of the rabid Right-wing say, the Stimulus bill helped create around 1.5 million jobs, kept unemployment from exploding into double digits, and is widely agreed by economists to have had a positive effect on the economy.

So, if Obama’s policies created roughly 16% of the deficits, what are the policies that created the bulk of the debt?  As The Center on Budget and Policy Priority points out, the three main reasons why we have the current national debt are, 1) Bush’s tax cuts for the rich. 2) Two unfunded wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 3) The economic downturn.

Chili’s “ultimate point” has been, “Obama had two years with a democratically controlled congress to change the tax cuts to undo the things that "Bush" did. When do we start to hold Obama accountable?” Obama should be held responsible for the policies.  And Obama policies added a total of %16 of the current debt.

Republicans claim they are all about “personal responsibly” until they have to be held responsible and accountable for their own actions. Then, they immediately begin to blame Obama and the Democrats for their own actions. The debate about what policies are actually “responsible” for the current national debt is a perfect example of the Right-wings attempt to deflect responsibility. Republican’s seem to refuse to admit that Obama and the Democrats worked to “undo” the Bush Tax Cuts and the Republicans have worked feverishly to block Obama’s from raising taxes on those making more than $500,000 a year and more.

Even if Obama was successful in ending the Bush’s tax cuts for the rich, according to Noble Economist Joseph Stiglitz, the Republican policy during the W. Bush era was to have China (instead of American tax payers) loan us the money for the last two wars and let the bill come due on Obama’s watch. This ended up adding roughly $3 trillion with interest to our current national debt. That is Trillion with a T.  Yet, Chili and the Right-wing liars continue to underhandedly claim Obama “got” us here?

While we can debate the cause of the economic downturn, one word sums it all up, “deregulation”. It was the deregulation of the banking industry and the complete lack of oversight that created the Great Recession of 2008. In typical Right-wing fantasy world fashion, Chili wants to blame the Democrats and the fact that Bill Clinton signed into the law the Repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act as the main cause for the economic downturn.  The 1930’s Glass-Steagall Act prevented banks from getting involved with risky investment banking/brokerage house schemes. This was, after a hard lesson learned from the Great Depression.

While the repeal of Glass-Steagall was one important deregulatory factors that led to the economic collapse during the last year of the W. Bush administration, it was in no way the only factor. The use of credit default swaps and derivatives greatly expanded during the W. Bush administration.  Bush’s hands off approach to regulating the banks, essentially allowed the banks to engage in often illegal and outright fraudulent behavior, turned our entire economy into a house of cards.  As we all know, according to most economists, as a result of this perfect storm of deregulatory factors, in 2008 our national economy collapsed and our national debt grew by roughly 20%.

Republicans and the rabid far Right don’t want Americans to have an honest conversation about the national debt. They don’t want to talk about the debt Obama inherited or how we got here to begin with. If we did, we would have to talk about fact that the Bush’s tax cuts for the rich has added more to the national debt than any other factor. In fact, Republicans would have to admit that nearly all the national debt was created by Republican policies. The very same policies the Republicans are now campaigning on, more tax cuts for the rich and more deregulation of the banks.  As the Center for American Progress has pointed out, “As for the deficit’s cause, the single most important factor is the legacy of President George W. Bush’s legislative agenda”. The Republicans 2012 political platform calls for more of the same failed policies that created this whopping national debt in the first place.

It has been widely reported that according to the  Congressional Budget Office  the Romney/Ryan budget plan will add another 3.127 trillion to the national debt. The Republican scheme relies heavily on more Bush tax cuts for the rich, far more than Obama’s proposed budget plans. Romney’s and the Republicans insistence on ever greater tax cuts for the rich is actually the number one cause for the current national deficit.

Speaking on DemocracyNow! last week, Matt Taibbi explained how Mitt Romney made his personal fortune by helping put our nation in debt, “So, when Mitt Romney or Bain Capital, when they want to go take over a company like KB Toys and they borrow $300 million to do it, and that new debt becomes the debt of KB Toys, when KB pays the debt service, the monthly service on that debt, that service is deductible. And if that were not true, if they did not have that deduction, these deals would not be economically feasible. They wouldn’t be possible. I spoke to one former regulator from the SEC, who worked both in the SEC and as an accountant at a Big Four accounting firm, and he reviewed a number of these deals in both a public and private capacity. And he said, without that deduction, he’s never seen a deal that would have been economically—a private equity deal that would have been economically feasible. So, this entire business model depends upon a tax break”

In other words, while Romney and company have been amassing great personal fortunes, they have been sticking the bill to the American taxpayers. No wonder Romney and the Republican want to expand tax cuts for their billionaire sponsors. This also explains why the Republicans don’t want us to have a national dialogue on the facts underlying the debt. As one Republican/Romney pollster declared "We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers." The Republican’s political strategy has clearly been to avoid the facts and deny the nation an honest debate as “how we got here”. Instead, their strategy has simply been to blame Obama.