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How did we get all the Federal Debt anyway?

July 26, 2011

Have you ever sat back and asked yourself just how we have gotten to this position where the Republican Party is literally holding the country hostage with the risk of defaulting on our debt so that they can push through a political agenda that will hurt everyone but the wealthy?  I mean, how did that happen?  We find some clues below.

As a quick aside: one thing that angers me about Democrats is that they have no idea how to negotiate.  Time and time again we see them cave to Republican hard-ball tactics.  Capitulation, it seems, is in the DNA of Washington Democrats.

I remember when the argument for extending the disastrous Bush tax cuts for the wealthy was in progress.  At that time ALL Republicans were screaming about deficits not mattering because they wanted THEIR tax cuts.  I often wonder why it is so difficult for the mainstream press to remember, oh, say…less than a year ago when these “negotiations” took place.  If those tax cuts had been allowed to sunset, we would have 700 BILLION more dollars in the treasury (1.7 Trillion over 10 years).  But, because they weren’t allowed to sunset, we are now talking about dismantling our already pathetic social safety net for those who really need it, as well as for future Social Security and Medicare recipients.

Well, Bloomberg finally does some reporting on the absolute hypocrisy in Washington D.C.,  Lisa Lerer has an article titled: Republican Leaders Voted for Debt They Blame on Obama.

House Speaker John Boehner often attacks the spendthrift ways of Washington.

“In Washington, more spending and more debt is business as usual,” the Republican leader from Ohio said in a televised address yesterday amid debate over the U.S. debt. “I’ve got news for Washington – those days are over.”

Yet the speaker, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell all voted for major drivers of the nation’s debt during the past decade: Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts and Medicare prescription drug benefits. They also voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, that rescued financial institutions and the auto industry.

Together, a Bloomberg News analysis shows, these initiatives added $3.4 trillion to the nation’s accumulated debt and to its current annualbudget deficit of $1.5 trillion.

Does anyone remember John Boehner crying when he spoke about passing TARP?  I do, I was sickened by it then as much as I am sickened by it now.  We have a pattern here, it is called the Shock Doctrine, the phrase was coined by Naomi Klein in her excellent book: The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.  We, the Middle Class citizenry in America are being held hostage again and again by those in power.  In essence, Boehner, over the past 10 years voted for every debt bloating measure he could think of, now that the bill is coming due, programs for the poor and the middle class get the axe.  They are using crises to push an agenda which has been present in the Republican Party for 60 years, that agenda is to gut protections that are presently in place for the middle class and the poor.

Bush Tax Cuts

The 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, which lowered tax rates on income, dividends and capital gains, increased the federal budget deficit by $1.7 trillion over a decade, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a non-partisan left-of- center group in Washington that studies fiscal policy.

The two-year extension of those tax cuts that Obama signed will cost $857.8 billion, according to the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation.

Boehner has defended the tax cuts, arguing that they didn’t lead to the deficit.

“The revenue problem we have today is a result of what happened in the economic collapse some 18 months ago,” he told reporters on June 10, according to The Hill newspaper.

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have cost almost $1.3 trillion since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, according to a March 29 analysis by the Congressional Research Service. Operations in Iraq have cost $806 billion, and in Afghanistan $444 billion. The analysis shows the government has spent an additional $29 billion for enhanced security on militia bases and $6 billion remains unallocated.

Medicare Drug Benefit

The 2003 Medicare prescription program approved by President George W. Bush and a Republican-dominated Congress has cost $369 billion over a 10-year time frame, less than initially projected by Medicare actuaries.

Nine Senate Republicans, including Nebraska’s Chuck Hagel, along with 25 Republicans in the House, voted against the bill. Hagel argued that it failed to control costs and would add trillions in debt for future generations.

“Republicans used to believe in fiscal responsibility,” Hagel wrote in a 2003 editorial in the Omaha World Herald. “We have lost our way.”

TARP, the $700-billion bailout of banks, insurance and auto companies, has cost less than expected. McConnell, Boehner, Cantor and Ryan all voted in October 2008 for the program, which stoked the rise of the Tea Party movement.

Many institutions have repaid the government. The latest estimated lifetime cost of the program is $49.33 billion, according to a June 2011 report by the Treasury Department. That figure includes the $45.61 billion cost of a housing program which the administration never expected to recoup.

Rank-and-file Republicans are eager to pin the blame on Democrats, frequently pointing to the economic stimulus signed by Obama in 2009. The total cost of the stimulus will be $830 billion by 2019, according to a May 2011 Congressional Budget Office report.

That’s half the cost of the Bush tax cuts and less than two-thirds of what has been spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

There you have it folks!  Republicans vote for EVERY spending measure known to man, then, when the bill comes due they talk about killing programs for millions of Americans … or else … Nice guys huh?

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