December 16, 2009
I suppose had I heard one — just one — single elected Republican official or just one ordinary die-hard Republican citizen talk about being fiscally responsible during the eight years of President George W. Bush, I could take them as serious-minded citizens and worthy of credibility. However, — I can not name one. How many can you name?
I have been writing about our national debt for more than two years now, and complaining about it for at least three decades. And it didn’t matter who was in the White House or in control of Congress. My values remain the same. Debt is debt, no matter whose running it up. But in today’s environment, it seems that the only time those of the Republican persuasion want to decry the national debt and our deficit is when the Democrats are doing the spending.
Democrats have long held a deserving reputation for spending tax dollars. They only have themselves to blame. However, beginning with the Clinton administration, a Democratic President tried to become somewhat fiscally responsible. Compared to the Reagan administration, under whose leadership the debt increased from $0.9 trillion to $2.4 trillion (167% increase) and the George W. Bush administration who increased debt from $5.8 trillion to $10 trillion (72% increase), Clinton actually tried to be a fiscally responsible President. The debt increased under him from $4.3 trillion to $5.6 trillion (30% increase; see documentation for all three). “Compared to”, I said. That doesn’t mean he didn’t spend, but when he talked about balancing the budget, he actually tried to do it. Not like the latter Bush, who chose to use a Sharpie and simply cross out his own $477 billion deficit in from of a bunch of TV camera’s and reporters, then threw the paper in the trash can and continued spending, as they say, like a drunken sailor.
Several people of the Republican persuasion, whose has suddenly discovered they were fiscally responsible, have said “well, we’ve got to begin somewhere”. “Well” — I certainly agree with them. But where we differ is I’ve been saying that under the last five Presidents, but these new-comers have suddenly decided to become fiscally responsible only since President Obama has taken office. Interestingly enough, there are a lot of Democrats — many who strongly supporting their party leaders’ agenda in the past — now talking about the importance of reducing our deficit and debt. But for the past month or so they have become very adamant about our financial problems. That was something you never heard from the Republicans during the Reagan and Bush years.
If you will, take a moment and consider what the last two Democratic Presidents faced when they entered the White House. No, I’m not talking about the financial crisis and the two wars we’re engaged in that has consumed Obama’s first year in office — I’m referring to the ballooning national debt he and Clinton both were saddled with. When Clinton entered office he immediately got attacked from the right by those who declared that the deficit and debt has to be seriously addressed. And now that Obama is in office, the exact same thing is happening to him. The right might as well have said, “we’re making you responsible for the fiscal mess our Republican Presidents made, and we’re not going to allow you to implement any of your programs until you’ve fixed that”. Pretty good strategy, I’d say.
An editorial in The Washington Post addresses the coming debt panic. The writer says only bipartisan action can avoid it. Truer words have never been spoken. But that is not going to happen — bipartisanship, that is. To begin with, the elected officials on neither side of the isle know how to work together any more. (Hell, they can’t even work together within their own party.) Long ago they decided the only way to come to power or stay in power or get bills passed, was to capitalize on how bad the “other side” was/is. Until candidate Barack Obama, no candidate since Ronald Reagan has offered anything tangible to be elected on. All the others have run on a “they’re bad” platform. Yes, there’s been a couple of exceptions such as Ross Perot in 1992 and Representative Ron Paul (on more than one occasion), but few people considered them Presidential material.
Should these modern-day advocates for reining in the debt want to attempt to regain any credibility, lets hear them speak out and lay the blame of an additional $4.5 trillion debt at the feet of man who created it — his highness, George W. Bush. And I don’t mean just a “by-the-way, under-the-breath, oh-yeah-him-too” kind of way — I mean speak out loud and clear; the same way you’ve been screaming about Obama the Democrats. Until you’re ready to do that, don’t expect anyone to offer any respect of credibility. Speaking with forked tongue want get the credibility job done.
Here’s where the triple-jeopardy of hypocrisy comes in. When the next Presidential election rolls around and if a Republican big-spender wins the White House, that will be the last time we’ll from this modern-day fiscally responsible group. “Tea partiers” of today have one objective in mind, and it is not turning the deficit around or reducing the national debt. It is simply a tool to obtain their objective. If they can run the Democrats out of the White House (and Congress) and replace them with Republicans, their means will be justified. There’ll be no more tea parties or talk about deficit and debt reduction. Except, of course, how removing all tax burdens from corporations and the wealthy will fix everything, including the deficit and debt.