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Debt Ceiling mine fieldAndrea Mitchell of NBC news interviewed House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan Friday on the subject of raising the Debt Ceiling, where he made the following comment:

“We haven’t seen spending like this since the end of WWII.”         

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That comment gnawed at me for hours afterward. “We haven’t seen spending like this since the end of WWII.” Well, duh! No kidding! There’s a reason for that! Why did we spend so much money during World War II? The country was fighting TWO wars, and still emerging from an economic disaster left behind by the previous Republican president. Sound familiar? You’re damn right we haven’t spent money like this since WWII. Only this time around, it’s worse because we’re trying to do both at the same time. The government is over-paying private contractors profiteering off the wars, while Republicans are giving enormous tax breaks to the very people who profit most off them.

When President Clinton left office, the National Debt was $5.8Trillion and shrinking. By the time President Bush-43 left office, the Debt was $10.4Trillion and growing… rapidly. The final Bush budget, which ended in September of President Obama’s first year in office, took us to just under $12Trillion ($11.9). On Christmas Eve of that same year, they had to raise the Debt Ceiling another half Trillion (to $12.4), and the following year, another $1Trillion (to $13.5), which included the Stimulus and bailing out the auto industry. The following month, the DC was amended to where it stands today: $14.3Trillion. And if we raise it again this year, that would likely take us to over $16Trillion.

From $10.4T to $16T in just three years. That is indeed a big jump. It took Republicans and President Bush 6 years to raise the Debt by $4T, and now we’re looking at $6T in three? Boy that looks bad. As we’ve already seen with gas prices, once money breaks a particular glass ceiling, simple inertia keeps it going.

But WHY is the National Debt exploding so fast? Is President Obama less “fiscally responsible than President Bush?” Hardly. Here are the facts: when expenses are greater than income, you must BORROW to make up the difference (natch). The problem is worse when times are bad. It isn’t so much that spending has gone up so much as REVENUES have gone down, forcing us to BORROW more. Between high unemployment and extending the Bush tax cuts for the Top 2%, we have FAR less money coming in. so we must borrow more & more to make up the difference. (If Wiki can be trusted, the 2010 cost of the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan came to $664 Billion. The amount of revenue lost extending the Bush Tax Cuts for the wealthiest Top 2% of Americans for another two years? Another $80 Billion over two years. End those wars plus allow those tax cuts for the wealthy to expire as planned: That’s (very roughly) over a Trillion dollars in savings right there. Crisis averted.

Now, Republicans like Rep. Ryan would have us believe that SPENDING has risen out of control since Obama took office to explain why the Debt has risen so fast. Under President Bush, the National Debt grew by an average of $600 Billion a year the first seven years of the Bush presidency, jumping to a staggering $1Trillion in year eight (in part due to the $700 Billion dollar TARP bailout), and another $900 Billion before President Obama wrote his first budget.

By 2010, the Debt swelled another $1.6Trillon. What did we spend that money on? $787 Billion of that was to pay for the “2009 Recovery and Reinvestment Act”… more than a third of which ($288billion) went to pay for tax cuts; $224 Billion went to education, healthcare and extending unemployment benefits. And lastly, jobs and new government contracts had to share a paltry $275 Billion with business grants & loans.

If you deduct the $787 Billion spent on the ARA, President Obama’s first budget was actually smaller than Bush’s last ($900-Billion). We actually spent more on TAX CUTS than creating jobs.

The proposed $1.6Trillion increase in the Debt Ceiling would cover TWO years’ budgets (til early 2014), or just $800 Billion a year… a $100 Billion a year DECREASE over President Bush’s final 2008/2009 budget. And THIS is what the GOP has termed “out of control spending”.

On “Meet the Press” yesterday, guest panelist Mayor Cory Booker (D-NJ) went from “wise man” to “clueless hack” in less time than it takes Mitt Romney to flip flop on an issue:

Booker: During the Depression, we made America great by investing in it. Let’s not do that again.    

Uh, Mayor Booker? Building the Hoover Dam, investing in math & science, and putting a man on the moon… those were all GOVERNMENT PROJECTS that required LOTS OF GOVERNMENT SPENDING to achieve. How does one go from pointing out all the good that comes from “investing in America” only to conclude that we have a problem with “spending too much”?

“We haven’t seen spending like this since the end of WWII”. And that was a BAD thing, Congressman Ryan?

(Note: Republicans DEMAND tax cuts, which we must BORROW to pay for, and then they scream about “spending” and “growth of the Debt”. They DEMAND we “cut the size of government” and then point to the lost jobs as “proof” Obama’s economic policies are failing.

Do you get it yet, Mr. President?)

 


 
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