U.S. National Debt : Cliffs Notes for Conservatives

Graphic by Larry Ray / The Rag Blog. With apologies to Cliffs Notes.

Cliffs Notes for Conservatives

I find it both bewildering and angering when Republican conservatives lambaste President Obama for the present state of indebtedness on America’s balance sheet as if it was all his fault, spending like a drunken sailor. As if the previous eight years never happened.

By Larry Ray / The Rag Blog / June 24, 2009

As soon as Barack Obama’s hand left the Lincoln bible after taking his oath of office as President of the United States of America, the race was on within the tattered ranks of the Republican party to see who could scream “tax and spend” the loudest.

The same conservatives who uttered not a dissenting word during the past eight years of Republican “spend and spend” now sputter forth about their perceived perilous excesses of President Obama.

It is time for a review of some hard facts and numbers.

Mr. Obama has calmly and deliberately taken charge, faced with inherited wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the threat of a global financial meltdown, and a laundry list of national and international challenges. And all the while he is pressing ahead and funding promised new programs and change. His Republican detractors, ranting about the national debt, seem to have forgotten George W. Bush’s early months as president.

Mr. Bush inherited a federal budget that had been balanced for three consecutive years and a surplus of $236 billion, the largest surplus in American history. Even sweeter, we were running an on-budget surplus no longer diverting surplus from the Social Security Trust Fund to fund other government programs. This conservative largess, of course, came from the previous Democratic administration.

When Mr. Bush took office, the national debt was $5.727 trillion. By September 2008, the national debt had soared to more than $9.849 trillion, an almost 72 percent increase during Mr. Bush’s two terms. And those are the debt figures before the basically unregulated, free-for-all banking and financial system received Mr. Bush’s $700 billion Wall Street bailout money.

And as President Obama walked into the Oval office, Mr. and Mrs. George W. Bush were closing the deal on their mansion in a Dallas, Texas gated community, leaving the biggest increase in the national debt under any president in U.S history as a going away present to the American people.

Mr. Bush must have erased the collective memory of his record national debt from the minds of the Republican party. With stern faces they attempt daily to paint the accumulated national debt as President Obama’s dangerous “socialist” agenda to send America to the poorhouse. Well, we have already been sent there, and Barack Obama did not do the sending.

Here’s a quick review:

  • Shortly after taking office, President Bush spoke to the the Republican Congressional Retreat in Williamsburg and blithely declared that his budget would “pay down the national debt.”
  • President Bush raised the national debt limit eight times during his administration.
  • On July 30, 2008, President Bush signed the Housing and Economic Recovery Act, which contained a quiet little provision raising the debt ceiling to $10.615 trillion.
  • One week before leaving office, Bush asked Congress for the remaining $350 billion of the $700 billion Wall Street Troubled Assets Relief Program or TARP bailout package.That same last week, Bush signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 raising the national debt ceiling for the eighth time to $12.104 trillion to accommodate the $11.3 trillion all time record debt he left the incoming administration.
  • George W. Bush’s $11.3 trillion record debt comes to more than $37,000 each for every man, woman and child in the United States. And it will get worse because of what is is costing to clean up after him while still moving ahead on badly needed changes like national health care to rein in its current out of control cost.

I find it both bewildering and angering when Republican conservatives lambaste President Obama for the present state of indebtedness on America’s balance sheet as if it was all his fault, spending like a drunken sailor. As if the previous eight years never happened.

Mr. Boehner, Mr. Steele, Mr. Cantor and the rest of the GOP spokespersons du jour should all be given special pocket calculators with a built in factor of $11.3 trillion that is automatically deducted from any figures they use to attack the Obama administration.

The factor could have a new four letter mathematical name, the Debt factor, a word that also works perfectly to describe the Bush presidential legacy.

[Retired journalist Larry Ray is a Texas native and former Austin television news anchor. He also posts at The iHandbill.]

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1 Response to U.S. National Debt : Cliffs Notes for Conservatives

  1. Anonymous says:

    Firstly during the supposed surplus Clinton had the National Debt continued to increase not decrease. In no year during or after the Clinton Administration did the National debt go down. Mr Clinton Increased the Inter-Gov Holdings debt, it was the Public Debt that decreased. His Surplus was just Smoke and Mirrors as the overall debt irrefutably increased as it has under Mr Bush and as it will continue to do so under Mr Obama.
    You can verify this at the US Treasury website.

    Second Mr. Bush’s Wall Street Money was approved by the Congress which then Senator Obama voted for against the wishes of the people. This of course does not absolve Mr. Bush. So yes indeed Mr. Obama had a hand in it. Unfortunately you seem to ignore that. Mr. Obama has expensive plans for the future that will surpass Mr Bush’s spending and all previous administrations spending combined. Spending is the issue that many have awoken to and rightly so. Party affiliation is now irrelevant to this issue as the sheeple become people and stop drinking the Kool-Aid.

    This leads us to this comment:
    “I find it both bewildering and angering when Republican conservatives lambaste President Obama for the present state of indebtedness on America’s balance sheet as if it was all his fault, spending like a drunken sailor. As if the previous eight years never happened.”

    I find it bewildering that anyone who protests the spending and Mr. Obama’s agenda are automatically labeled Republican or racist. It is as if these critics of the protests are blind sheep.
    First not all the protesters are Republican; they consist of AMERICAN’s from all walks of life. Some of the prominent voices happen to be Republican and some are Republicans in Name only. The majority protesters are not of just one party. The people are uniting in one voice and are leaving the party lines at the door. Who really cares if the media covered ones happen to be Republican? The problem is the spending not the voices and it will continue to be the spending whether you support the voices of the protest or not.

    I find it angering that because we have had enough and are now protesting that suddenly we are illegitimate. You asked “where you were the last 8 years?”. My question to you is where is the “Change” that Mr Obama promised that many waited 8 years for? Many Democrats that are now indeed protesting do not see this so called “Change”.
    All I see is continuation of what has occurred these last 8 years and that there is no longer a difference in electing Democrats or Republicans (a false two party paradigm) to office. Oh they talk a lot about different things and publicly disagree on many points but when elected they do nothing different. They all spend, they all legislate nonsense and they all disregard the Constitution.
    I voted for REAL change and it was neither for a Democrat nor a Republican. What did you vote for? Not that the public vote for President means anything as it is the Electoral College that decides who gets to be President…
    Are you happy with the increased spending and debt that will now add up to at least 12 years instead of 8?
    What will it take for people to wake up to the fact that neither Republicans nor Democrats will stop the spending and the violation of the constitution?
    For me the mythical Surplus and passing of the non-patriotic Patriot Act was enough.

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