Usually every chance they get, Republicans like to point at Democrats and refer to them as “tax and spend” liberals. Throughout most of President Obama’s term, he has been blamed for the debt, which is now closing in on 18 trillion dollars.
To be fair, the national debt has increased during his presidency; but what they always fail to mention is that it is Congress that writes a budget, not the president. Congressional Republicans even voted for a $287 billion tax cut back in July without any offsets to pay for it.
The move by Republicans to back $287 billion in tax cuts comes at a time when they are loudly questioning much smaller spending bills: the president’s request for $3.7 billion to respond to children crossing the border, $11 billion to keep highway projects afloat for less than a year and the roughly $35 billion Senate measure to revamp the veteran’s health care system. Combined, those measures are still less than a fifth of the tax cut bill. (Source)
You read that right, a $287 billion tax cut was passed with no problem, but much smaller budget requests – including one for helping veterans – were turned down. Congressional Republicans thought those smaller requests would cost too much – but handing tax breaks to businesses was fine, despite the stock market being in record territory along with corporate profits.
However, there’s another story going on that the media has barely reported. Republicans have been completely silent on it, and Democrats have barely mentioned it in mid-term election campaigns. That story is that the federal budget deficit is at the lowest it has been since 2008, before the recession took a huge toll on tax revenues.
On the day the Treasury reported, there was no statement (other than the Monthly Treasury Report that announced the August deficit) from at the two places where it might have been expected — by the White House or Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. The cabinet official who has direct responsibility for the budget – budget director Shaun Donovan – didn’t issue a statement on the OMB website either
The administration wasn’t the only one to go silent. None of those most likely to be critical of the deficit such as House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) issued a statement. (Source)
It is important to point out that the deficit and the debt are two different, but connected things. For those of you who aren’t super familiar with the two, the debt is the amount of money we currently owe. Think of it like a credit card that has a balance that our government accrued by spending on wars or other things tax dollars couldn’t cover. The deficit adds to the debt as it is the amount of money between what tax revenues covered and what Washington actually spent. That is the money that ends up getting put on the national credit card to cover the difference.
While the debt continues to grow, the pace is slower than before due to a shrinking deficit which means less money that has to be borrowed – but you won’t hear that from Fox News or anyone in the Republican Party. To them, we’re this far in debt and people are losing their jobs and insurance because of President Obama and the Affordable Care Act, despite evidence to the contrary.
Republicans have been running on the talking points that claim President Obama and Democrats are driving the country into an abyss of debt that we will never be able to pay our way out of. However, they’ve overlooked the fact that President Bush squandered a projected budget surplus of $5.6 trillion over the next ten years and started signing off on tax cuts, all while putting two wars that we are still involved with on America’s credit card. Now that the budget deficit is closing rapidly, Republicans can talk about the deficit all they want. They’ll just point to the debt, ignore the deficit, and count on the people who vote for them not to know the difference. That’s been their game plan all along.
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