Sahil Kapur explains where the rise and projected increases in the national debt are coming from — and more importantly, what the GOP Congress is unwilling to do to themselves to decrease the debt.
Under Obama’s watch the national debt has risen from roughly $10 trillion to $15 trillion, a record high. But to what extent are his decisions while in office to blame? The answer: very little. The vast bulk of the debt is the result of policies enacted during the Bush administration coupled with automatic increases in federal spending and decreases in tax revenue triggered by the economic downturn. [...] Recovery measures by Bush and Obama caused a short-term spike in deficits but have mostly phased out and thus represent only modest fractions of the national debt.
The numbers… don’t reflect expected peace dividends from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, or revised economic growth projections, and it assumes the Bush tax cuts will be renewed in their entirety — something President Obama has vowed will not happen, after he accepted a two-year extension of all the rates late 2010. But they broadly demonstrate that existing debt and projected deficits aren’t largely a consequence of Obama initiatives.
[...] President Obama and Democrats have insisted that further efforts to improve the nation’s fiscal outlook include new revenues. The GOP has balked at this demand, and as a result, Congress has gridlocked and isn’t expected to resolve any significant tax and spending issues until after the November election.
The Republicans refuse to consider any new revenue and will not compromise with formerly agreed to cuts in defense spending (even with two wars ending), and are threatening again to shut down the government. Adding to their campaign of fail, they hypocritically released a web video Monday bashing Obama’s “broken promises” on the deficit. Really.
The GOP-led congress wants all of their spending levels to remain constant — tax cuts for the wealthy, defense spending — while the rest of us pay for it with our tax dollars and with austerity measures to programs and services needed by the most vulnerable in our society (food stamps, Medicaid, etc).
So let’s have an honest discussion of where this debt came from and what we can do about it, instead of pandering to the rightwing for political points. (I know — ridiculous. I just made myself laugh!)