Blame where blame is due

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough recently surprised me by identifying the culprit for the nation’s fiscal mess. “Let’s make no mistake about it right now: increasing this debt ceiling? This is George W. Bush and the Republican Party’s debt,” the former Republican congressman said. Scarborough added, “This is George W. Bush’s debt…. You can’t just put this on Barack Obama.”

With this in mind, note the chart the New York Times published over the weekend, using data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. It identifies which administration, the current one or its predecessor, is more responsible for the increase in the nation’s debt. (click on the image for a larger view)

In the interest of providing more context, it’s also worth noting that Bush didn’t act alone — Republican lawmakers like John Boehner and Mitch McConnell supported the fiscally-irresponsible policies every step of the way, voting for the agenda that created all that debt. Republicans admit that they saw the entire eight years as a period in which it was “standard practice not to pay for things.”

As a result, Republicans inherited a large surplus and turned it into a massive deficit. GOP officials took a budget that was on track to eliminate the national debt altogether and instead added nearly $5 trillion to it.

And now these same Republicans claim the high ground on fiscal issues, and demand that President Obama clean up their mess immediately. Worse, they demand he do so in a way they find pleasing, or next week, they’ll crash the economy on purpose.

Last week, a House Republican said he didn’t feel like allowing the nation to pay its bills, because, as he put it, “Why should we give Barack Obama $2.4 trillion? It’s his debt.”

Maybe someone should pass this chart around to GOP lawmakers. They could apparently benefit from the reminder.

Update: John Cole reminds me that NBC’s David Gregory, just last week, passed along the GOP line uncritically: “It’s the Democrats who have run up the debt since President Obama got into office.” Here’s hoping someone let’s Gregory know about the chart, too.