In those moments in the past forty-hours when I’ve paid attention to the debt negotiations, I want to just ask every Democrat attacking House Republicans — and said Democrats’ allies in the mainstream media demonizing the majority party in the chamber attempting to face this* — “How do you plan to pay for this?”
As I scan my e-mail and scan the blogs, I keep coming across interesting tidbits that measure the increase in spending in the Obama years. Those on the left blaming George W. Bush for the current stalemate have been using gimmicks to explain away his successor’s spendthrift ways.
Yes, we grant that Republican could have done more — much more — to rein in federal spending (and we and other conservative blogs as well as conservative editorial pages took him to task for fiscal failures), but his spending spree seems restrained when compared to that of his successor. No matter how liberal economists try to dress it up, the Obama administration increased the rate of increase in federal spending above and beyond what it was under Bush. You just need look at the various budgets each president signed. (And the most recent one Obama submitted to show just how he sought to increase spending.)
Indeed, that increase began when Nancy Pelosi took over at House Speaker in 2007. (And yes, we can and should criticize W for not wielding the veto pen more regularly and more strategically.)
Earlier today, Glenn linked a post where Ira Stoll compared the spending habits of the Democratic incumbent to his most recent Democratic predecessor:
. . . the bottom line is that the federal government is spending about double what it was at the end of the Clinton administration. For all the clamor on the left to bring back the Clinton-era top tax rates, there are few, if any, politicians in Washington talking about bringing back the Clinton-era spending levels.
Then, there are these fun facts derived from studying past federal budgets:
- Reagan’s debt hikes were comparatively small and usually were temporary (thus the high number of changes)
- Obama in two years has already added a trillion dollars more debt than Reagan did in eight
- Total debt increase under Reagan ($1.865-T) was almost identical to increase under Clinton ($1.805-T)
So, if Democrats wish to invoke Reagan (as seems to be their wont of late), they should reference these stats. And if they want to wax nostalgic about the economic growth and balanced budgets of the Clinton era, then they should also recall that the Arkansas Democrat failed to increase spending at the levels the incumbent Democrat has.
*At least the House Republicans have passed a plan and the House Speaker is trying to bring another up for a vote. And what do we have from the Senate Democrats?