LIE OF THE DAY…. For all of their many faults, the message discipline of Republican lawmakers is a sight to behold. Here’s Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on CNN yesterday morning:
“The last year of the Bush administration, the deficit as a percentage of gross domestic product was 3.2 percent, well within the range of what most economists think is manageable. A year and a half later, it’s almost 10 percent.”
Around the same time, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (R-Texas) said this on NBC:
“You know, in the last year that President Bush was in office, 2008, the deficit was 3.2 percent of the gross domestic product. Today it’s 10 percent.”
Republicans desperately want Americans to believe Democrats nearly tripled the deficit. Here’s the reality: when Bush/Cheney left office, they left behind a $1.3 trillion deficit. We don’t yet know exactly what this year’s deficit will be, but most estimates point suggest it’ll be about $1.4 trillion.
With that in mind, there are a few angles to consider here. First, while there’s probably a shortage of calculators in the Republican cloak room, even GOP leaders should understand that going from $1.3 trillion to $1.4 trillion isn’t an especially significant increase given the size of the economy and the budget, and it’s certainly not a tripling of the deficit as they’re suggesting.
Second, despite the fact that Bush is gone, the single biggest factors driving the deficit are Bush/Cheney policies. That’s not opinion; it’s fact. McConnell and Cornyn may not like it, but reality doesn’t care.
And third, Bush, McConnell, and Cornyn added $5 trillion to the debt in eight years. They approved tax cuts, two wars, Medicare expansion, No Child Left Behind, and a massive financial industry bailout — without even trying to pay for literally any of it. If they think they have credibility on fiscal responsibility, they’re out of their minds.
Update: Paul Krugman takes the claim on in more detail, and includes a helpful chart. Take a look.