Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 11, 2011

LET'S TALK ABOUT WHO SPILLED THE MILK.... Asked about the upcoming fight over the federal debt limit, Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) suggested he just doesn't much care about avoiding a global economic catastrophe.

"It's their debt," Mulvaney said, referring to Democrats. "Make them do it. That's my attitude."

That attitude is surprisingly common.

Leaders in both parties view this as must-pass legislation. The White House is urging passage of a debt limit increase with no amendments, but officials acknowledge privately that they may need to make concessions, perhaps in the form of substantial spending cuts, to win support from House Republicans.

"We're here mopping up their spilled milk, to be honest," freshman Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) said.

Well, "to be honest," these guys have no idea what they're talking about.

Let's put aside for a moment the extremely dangerous game the GOP is playing with the debt limit. Let's also put aside, for now, the fact that there is no debt crisis, and policymakers should be focusing on job creation, not slashing public investments and the safety net.

Let's instead take a moment to correct the record. If Republicans want to talk about how the debt reached its current level -- who "spilled the milk," to use Grimm's metaphor -- there's no real mystery here.

It was Republicans who supported the Bush tax cuts, and added the costs to the national debt. Republicans then chose to finance the war in Afghanistan by adding the costs to the national debt. They then put the costs of the war in Iraq onto the national debt. The GOP supported a massive expansion of the government's role in health care, Medicare Part D, and piled all of its costs right onto the national debt, and then backed the financial industry bailout, and added the bill to the national debt.

In December, Republicans refused to allow for a middle-class tax cut unless it included more expensive breaks for the wealthiest people in America. The entire package, backed by the GOP, cost hundreds of billions of dollars, and by Republican design, all of the costs were added to the national debt.

Indeed, GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch, reflecting on the last decade when his party added trillions to the debt entirely on their own, recently said it was an era in which "it was standard practice not to pay for things." It was, of course, the Republican Party that came up with this "standard practice."

All the while, GOP policymakers had no qualms about voting to raise the debt limit.

If Republicans want to pretend to care about fiscal responsibility, that's up to them. But there's no reason to shamelessly lie, while claiming to be "honest," about which party's responsible for the "spilled milk."

Steve Benen 8:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (30)

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These Repbulicans are acting just like the nihilists/anarchists they are.

After they spilled the milk, they want to shoot the cow, and let the whole farm burn down.

Their level of ignorance would stagger a sponge.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on April 11, 2011 at 8:37 AM | PERMALINK

You're right, of course, but it's like shouting down a well.

The people to whom Grimm is talking have their world-view firmly fixed, and a few "facts" aren't going to change it. Libruls and Democrats spend too much of the hard-working taxpayers' money on lazy colored people who have too many babies. Those hard-working taxpayers are now rising up and taking their country back. (And they're gonna make sure there's no gummint meddling with their Medicare.)

Posted by: bleh on April 11, 2011 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

Call me a Cockeyed Optimist, but I eagerly away Obama telling the nation just this, on Wednesday. With pictures and charts, and soundbites of the guilty parties. . .

Posted by: DAY on April 11, 2011 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

Repugnicons have been getting away with saying this over and over again because they slide it in with the larger argument and nobody wants to get distracted with correcting the record.

Problem is, not one of the blogs I read daily have addressed this--until now.

Posted by: Fr33d0m on April 11, 2011 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

You're a cockeyed optimist. He'll announce the Grand Bargain to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, as hashed out by him and the "Gang of Six".

Unless Bizarro-Obama secretly takes his place, I suppose.

Posted by: Tom Allen on April 11, 2011 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

Good to hear US Rep Clybourn (D)(SC), school the "Mourning Joe" crowd on the difference between the RepuG refrain of taxing those who earn $250,000 to the correct version of "No, you will be taxed on the first one thousand and upwards above $250,000". We need many more Democrats on the firing line to correct the Luntzian spin machine.

Posted by: berttheclock on April 11, 2011 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

Boehner's been in the House for 20 years and the Republicans have been in the majority for a signifigant portion of that time. How many times has he voted to raise the debt ceiling? How many times has he voted (with the Republican majority) for budgets that included deficit spending?

Cantor's been in office for 10 years. How many times has he voted to raise the debt ceiling? How many times has he voted (with the Republican majority) for budgets that included deficit spending?

Paul Ryan's been in office over 10 years. He voted for TARP. How many times has he voted to raise the debt ceiling? How many times has he voted (with the Republican majority) for budgets that included deficit spending?

These are the guys that the Tea party think will "fix" the problem ?

Posted by: Stephen on April 11, 2011 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

Yes DAY, it does seem like a simple thing for the guy with the biggest megaphone (although not connected to the Fox news amplifier) to boil the financial/taxation situation into a couple of simple sentences and repeat every day. But that would be blaming Bush/Republicans, and the explicit Obama policy of course has been to look to the future and not litigate the past and be bipartisan and all that.

So sorry, but it's gonna be compromise and compromise some more just like we've seen for the past two years. Once in a while Obama gets pissed off but it doesn't last and it isn't ever turned into a policy or strategy.

Posted by: emjayay on April 11, 2011 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

This dilemma is the predictable consequence of the supposedly brilliant stratagems of triangulation and DLC centrism. Don't say you weren't warned many years ago.

Posted by: jhm on April 11, 2011 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

You put a sharp and defined point on this ...Thanks for being less wordy !

Posted by: jlt on April 11, 2011 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

Do these freshmen not comprehend what kind of damage they're about to cause? Stupid question, I know, but one feels obligated to ask.

Stories like this can drive decent men mad or to suicide. This whole Congress is likely going to go down in history as the most destructive and shameful in our 232 years as a sovereign country.

Posted by: Josef K on April 11, 2011 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

Shameless lying = Republicans. That's what they do. For my money, the little trick they pulled last week in passing a fake budget that allowed them to blame the Dems for "not supporting our troops" was the most shallow, excuseless, tranparent, lizard-like thing they've done. How can a group of men and women go so crazy just because a black guy was elected president? I just don't know.

Posted by: T2 on April 11, 2011 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

I remember that it was not that long ago that we were running surpluses and it looked like we might pay of the national debt paid off by now. Then the Republicans came along and made their changes. Now they tell us it will be 70 years of racking up more deficits before they can give us a balanced budget.

Posted by: david1234 on April 11, 2011 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

Your list is incomplete, Steve. Barack "Hussein" Obama didn't run his 2008 campaign on "I would like to pump trillions of government dollars into the economy just for the hell of it".
Nope. That became necessary the moment the GOP backing Wall Street banksters little ponzi scheme came crashing down. The stimulus needed doing and it by nature came at a time of low government tax receipts. This is the "spilled milk" the asshole was talking about. Of course the GOP alternative, according to them at the time, would have been to pull the rug out from under the "patient" as he was teetering. But that was nothing more than a bullshit political ploy anyway, as they would've had their paymasters back and rescued the economy had they been in power. Now that they've ironically positioned themselves on the populist side of the fence, their next move is evolving into fleecing the fools who vote for them out of their social security and medicare. And so far, the fools have been too mesmerized by the puppet theater to notice.

Posted by: BetweenTheLines on April 11, 2011 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

As someone had posted here a few weeks back :

If you are rich you get a tax break
If you are middle class or poor you get a service cut.

The deficit in:

2000 $18 billion
2001 $133 billion
2002 $421 billion
2003 $570 billion
2004 $596 billion
2005 $539 billion
2006 $575 billion
2007 $500 billion
2008 $1.02 trillion
2009 $1.89 trillion
2010 $1.65 trillion

Explain Please You Republican AND Democrats who allowed it to happen.

Posted by: John R AKA Mr. Serf Man on April 11, 2011 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

Shorter GOP:
"Kids, times are tough, and we have to cut back on toothpaste and shampoo. Oh, and Daddy needs a new set of golf clubs. . ."

Posted by: DAY on April 11, 2011 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

The national debt really started to explode when Reagan took office and has risen sharply under every republican president since then. The deficit/debt went down under Clinton--we all know the story, but aparently the tea party has been hiding under a rock for the past thirty years. That's the message the democrats need to be sending over and over again and the media needs to be called out on this issue when it keeps echoing the republican talking points as if they contain a grain of truth.

Posted by: sparky on April 11, 2011 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

Surely it's no longer hyperbole to call these Republicans and their Tea Party extremists "terrorists"?

What else would call someone who is using fear to get what they want, is proudly holding hostage the fate of an entire nation they have sworn to serve and protect, all in return for a ransom that they readily acknowledge will hurt the economy.

I think some serious protests are due come debt ceiling time. I'm getting sick and tired of these self-righteous pricks holding a gun to the head of my family and friends. What could be more patriotic than fighting to defeat these clowns?

Posted by: Kiweagle on April 11, 2011 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

"Now that they've ironically positioned themselves on the populist side of the fence, their next move is evolving into fleecing the fools who vote for them out of their social security and medicare. And so far, the fools have been too mesmerized by the puppet theater to notice." Thanks BTL, this is the scary part, because it is true...line up folks nothing to see here, move along, move along.

Posted by: David on April 11, 2011 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

Scary when two such as Mulvaney and Grimm speak with such ignorance. You would expect to google them and find them to have just fallen off the turnip wagon. Mulvaney graduated with honors from Georgetown' excellent Foreign Service department, then, became an attorney, having completed UNC Law. Even completed classes at Harvard Business School. Grimm was an undercover FBI agent going after the Gambino/Gotti mob in NYC and insider trading on Wall Street. He even had Democratic support in Brooklyn when he ran for Congress because he had served as US Marine in the Gulf War.

Yet, they are, both, so ill informed and they are allowed to vote in Congress.

Posted by: berttheclock on April 11, 2011 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

Of course there's a reason to lie about it: to shift the blame to the Democrats, and preserve their own false reputations as Serious Budget Hawks and The Only Adults In The Room and whatever other bullshit titles they praise themselves with.

Posted by: filkertom on April 11, 2011 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

Gosh Steve, you forgot mention where it ALL started. In 1980, when the country was $1 trillion in debt (after 200 years and how many wars?) Ronald Reagan said a $60 billion deficit was "Obscene". Twelve ytears later, at the end of his and GB1's terms, the debt has increased by 500%. Seems like they started a trend that Bill Clinton and the Republican Congress got a handle on...for a minute...then GWB was elected and all hell broke loose. John R AKA Serf Man did a nice job of laying it out.

Posted by: Vandal on April 11, 2011 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

Went from $500 billion in 2007 to $1.02 trillion in 2008 - what happened there? Stimulus? If that was a one time thing then why didn't the 2009 budget go back down to the similar levels of 2007?
And now we jump into another world conflict which costs even more money.

The LA Times today floated the idea of changing the tax code to get money from everyone who has a Roth IRA. I am sure that change will only impact the rich.

Posted by: Orwell on April 11, 2011 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

The Isolationist viewpoint is one core of the Teahadist philosophy. Murika first/only. No 'commons' or good for all.

Posted by: ed on April 11, 2011 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

Stop with the politically correct words. They are lying aholes. If they truly believe it then they are stupid uneducated morons that need to READ STUDY AND GET OUT OF CONGRESS. In 2000 we were in good shape. By 2008 we were not. The debt ceiling needs to be raised because of the interest on the debt that the GOP caused. The Dems DID part of entitlement change by passing the AFC. It took the GOP TWO YEARS to put out a budget so STFU about the Dems 'not having one'...how many times do they have to put out a comprehensive one and the media will acknowledge it? LYING AHOLES...that's the bumbersticker.

Posted by: SYSPROG on April 11, 2011 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

As long as there isn't someone to push back with the facts each and every time, one can expect the Republicans will go on an on like the Energizer Bunny repeating lies at will. Actually, I'm not sure that calling them out on their falsehoods will make much difference to them since it's in their nature, but it may help to break through to the low information voters. Maybe. I'm not so sure any more.

Posted by: sparrow on April 11, 2011 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

Sparrow? It will break thru to the voters IF it breaks thru to the Beltway media who repeats the repeating GOP mantra every single time. Let the hinterlands speak and shut off DC media.

Posted by: SYSPROG on April 11, 2011 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

Mommy Mommy! Brother Johnny hit me?

Johnny, why did you hit Tommy?

Because he hit me first.

So, it is OK for the democrats to spend even faster and move us more quickly to financial ruin because the republicans did it first? That goes to show you that being a politician no longer requires being a leader. If President Bush or President Obama were real men, they would have stood up and said "No, we can't afford this." Instead, they want to ride the gravy train as long as they can, making it tolerable in the short-term, but making the future even more bleak than it would be if we just tackled it now.

Posted by: Eric on April 11, 2011 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Wanna make a difference? Here's how you can truly tax the rich. http://wxrocks.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/how-to-tax-the-rich/

Posted by: Eric on April 11, 2011 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "Well, 'to be honest,' these guys have no idea what they're talking about."

Well, Steve, to be honest, these guys are deliberately lying, and they know it, and you know it, and your repetitive assertions that they "have no idea what they're talking about" are neither honest nor helpful.

They know exactly what they are talking -- which is to say, LYING -- about.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 11, 2011 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK
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