With Republican politicians and the Tea Party movement pretending that all budget matters began the day President Obama was inaugurated, Paul Begala takes the time to set the record straight about how the GOP's policies have driven our nation into the fiscal ground.
As he reminds us, President Clinton presided over the first balanced budgets in decades. When he left office, there was black ink projected for years to come. The chairman of the Federal Reserve was even worried about what would happen when the nation had no bonds left to sell. As Begala notes:
Indeed, experts projected surpluses as far as the eye could see. $5.7 trillion in surpluses, to be exact. The surpluses were so strong that deep into the future—in 2009—the entire national debt was going to be zero. For the first time since Andy Jackson was president, the United States of America would not owe a dime.
It didn't quite work out that way, did it? As Washington seems paralyzed, our economy stagnates, and America's full faith and credit is on the brink, it is useful to recall how we got here. This was not an act of nature. There was no unforeseen earthquake, no tsunami, no hurricane that wiped out our surplus. It was instead a Republican House, a Republican Senate, and a Republican president who squandered the surplus. In full possession of the federal government for the first time since Eisenhower, the GOP—with, to be fair, some help from some very foolish Democrats—systematically dismantled the economic and fiscal policies that produced the strongest economy and largest budget surplus in our history.
As Begala notes, I can understand why Republicans and Tea Partiers would want to erase these inconvenient facts from history. To make things clear, Begala explains how the Republicans did it:
Specifically, they did four things: cut taxes (with a heavy tilt toward the rich), waged two wars on the national credit card (one of which was against a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 and posed no serious threat to America), passed a prescription drug benefit with no pay-for (the first entitlement in American history without a revenue source), and deregulated Wall Street (which helped turn the American economy into a casino and touched off the Great Recession).
No, it makes no sense for everyone to pretend the GOP has nothing to do with the fiscal situation they hypocritically condemn today.