Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 28, 2011

PRESIDENTS CAN GO WHILE THEIR POLICIES LINGER.... Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), who's struggled a bit in his first year on the job, held a town-hall meeting last night, and heard from plenty of folks who weren't pleased with his vote on the House Republican budget plan.

There was one part of the story, though, that jumped out at me. After some locals complained about Grimm voting to end Medicare, another voter complained that Bush-era policies are largely responsible for the 2011 deficit.

Former President George W. Bush was one of the evening's frequent scapegoats, prompting Mr. Grimm, at one point, to ask: "This year's deficit is due to George Bush? That's insanity! That's insane."

Later, he turned to the reporters in the room, as if looking for support.

"I want the press to document this," he said. "The reason that the Democratic house, the Democratic senate, and the president, who's a Democrat, and his name was President Barack Obama, not President George Bush. They didn't pass a budget or pass any plan to stop our debt crisis because of George Bush? It was because of George Bush?!"

I can appreciate why this might resonate with some folks. Bush left office more than two years ago, so it may seem as if today's problems no longer have anything to do with him. Grimm, who routinely struggles to understand the basics of current events, was incredulous about this, and I suspect plenty of Republicans agree.

12-16-09bud-rev6-28-10-f1b.jpg

But the argument is not "insane" at all. In fact, it just requires a little thought and some rudimentary understanding of how reached the current mess.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities recently explained that, despite the rhetoric, the "fact remains" that "together with the economic downturn, the Bush tax cuts and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq explain virtually the entire deficit over the next ten years."

When Bush left office, he left behind a deficit a little over $1.3 trillion. He also left behind an economic crisis, which required some spending to address. What's more, he also left behind a series of policies -- two wars and a Medicare expansion, for example -- that Republicans made no effort to pay for, and which continue to add to the deficit.

As the CBPP noted, "The events and policies that have pushed deficits to these high levels in the near term, however, were largely outside the [Obama] Administration's control." The report added that the nation "must come to grips with the nation's long-term deficit problem. But we should not mistake the causes of our predicament."

I realize Grimm must find this confusing. Indeed, he thinks there's a "debt crisis," which only helps reinforce the fear that the congressman is struggling with the basics.

But what the congressman should try to understand is that a president's policies can linger for a while, even after that president leaves office. Grimm doesn't have to like it, but calling the truth "insane" doesn't make it false.

Steve Benen 12:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (19)

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Comments

Jeez, Rep.Grimm should know better than this.

9/11 was all Clintons fault.
So were the recessions 2001, 2002, and 2003.
So was the lack of any real job growth at all in the '00's.
And it was Clinton who was really responsible for the Housing bubble.

Nothing to see here folks!
Move along...
Just another Republican dumbass 'mf'er elected to Congress.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on April 28, 2011 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

No, no, no Steve! Everyone knows that there is a big red "reset" button on the podium where Obama made his inaugural address, and when he was done he ceremonially pressed it, and the deficit disappeared, the surplus was back and so were 4000 dead Americans and a million dead Iraqis.

Posted by: Caffeind on April 28, 2011 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Always nice to see another idiot who could pass the IQ test low enough to be able to register Republican.

Posted by: TCinLA on April 28, 2011 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Just another Grimm fairytale I guess?

Posted by: Just Guessing on April 28, 2011 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

This moron has to know that FY09 (and its projected 1.3 trillion dollar deficit) was a Bush budget. The projected trillion+ dollar deficits for the subsequent years were also going to be there regardless of who won the '08 Presidential election.

This is another area where Obama should have been doing a much better job explaining this to the voters.

Posted by: Holmes on April 28, 2011 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Grimm also appears in a fascinating New Yorker article about the FBI use of informants (latest issue).

Posted by: bob h on April 28, 2011 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Why are you picking on one, no-account GOP Congressman from NY?

The biggest problem facing our country is not idiots like Michael Grimm: It’s the MSM feeding the extraordinarily gullible American media consumer extraordinarily insane propaganda. Grimm is just parroting what he “knows” to be true.

Posted by: Giant Kid on April 28, 2011 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

The Grey (and Gray) Lady has yet to finish deciding whether it will publish my 10:45 AM comment:

“The deficit is due to the Bush-era tax cuts,” said someone else.
“The whole deficit is due to the Bush- era tax cuts?” Mr. Grimm asked.
“A good part, a good part,” came the resounding reply.
Former President George W. Bush was one of the evening’s frequent scapegoats, prompting Mr. Grimm, at one point, to ask: “This year’s deficit is due to George Bush? That’s insanity! That’s insane.”
No its not insane Mr. Grimm it is fact that the w. Bush presidency is the primary cause of the 2010 Federal Budget deficit:
\"As for the deficit’s cause, the single most important factor is the legacy of President George W. Bush’s legislative agenda. Overall, changes in federal law during the Bush administration are responsible for 40 percent of the short-term fiscal problem. For example, we estimate that the tax cuts passed during the Bush presidency are reducing government revenue collections by $231 billion in 2009. Also, because of the additions to the federal debt due to Bush administration policies, the government will be paying $218 billion more in interest payments in 2009.
Had President Bush not cut taxes while simultaneously prosecuting two foreign wars and adopting other programs without paying for them, the current deficit would be only 4.7 percent of gross domestic product this year, instead of the eye-catching 11.2 percent—despite the weak economy and the costly efforts taken to restore it. In 2010, the deficit would be 3.2 percent instead of 9.6 percent.
The weak economy also plays a major role in the deficit picture. The failure of Bush economic policies—fiscal irresponsibility, regulatory indifference, fueling of an asset and credit bubble, a failure to focus on jobs and incomes, and inaction as the economy started slipping—contributed mightily to the nation’s current economic situation. When the economy contracts, tax revenues decline and outlays increase for programs designed to keep people from falling deep into poverty (with the tax impact much larger than the spending impact). All told, the weak economy is responsible for 20 percent of the fiscal problems we face in 2009 and 2010.
President Obama’s policies have also contributed to the federal deficit—but only 16 percent of the projected budget deterioration for 2009 and 2010 are attributable to those policies. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, designed to help bring the economy out of the recession is, by far, the largest single additional public spending under this administration.
The cumulative cost of the financial sector rescue, mostly initiated under President Bush in response to the financial markets collapse, is also significant—contributing to 12 percent of the problem. A variety of other changes, described in the methodology section, are also contributors.
For the longer term, it’s a bit disingenuous to assign any responsibility for the deficits. That’s a story yet to be told, and CBO and OMB provide a selection of numbers to choose from for the long run. Much will depend on how the economy fares. If the Bush tax cuts, scheduled to expire at the end of 2010, were to be continued in their entirety there would be large deficits. If, as the Obama administration has proposed, they are only extended for those making under $250,000, then they still contribute to the deficit but not as substantially.\"
http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2009/08/deficit_numbers.html
As for your patronizing attitude -\"Get it all out, get it all out. It’s good to get it out. Get it out of your system\" - REALLY? Please explain to your district just who the hell you think you are, Dr. Phil?.

Posted by: rob on April 28, 2011 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

The biggest problem facing our country is not idiots like Michael Grimm: It’s the MSM feeding the extraordinarily gullible American media consumer extraordinarily insane propaganda.
Bingo! Instead of flooding townhalls, we should be sitting in at MSM and the Fox Noise offices and studios, making ourselves heard. If nothing else, it would get reported.

Posted by: Howlin Wolfe on April 28, 2011 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

Why are you picking on one, no-account GOP Congressman from NY?

The biggest problem facing our country is not idiots like Michael Grimm: It’s the MSM feeding the extraordinarily gullible American media consumer extraordinarily insane propaganda. Grimm is just parroting what he “knows” to be true.
Posted by: Giant Kid on April 28, 2011 at 1:11 PM

I second the motion.

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on April 28, 2011 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

I was happy to see that 17 of 19 comments (so far) to the NYT article agreed with those who were tough on Rep Grimm. The only "point" the other two made was that the protestors must have been "plants". Um, yea, that's a persuasive argument in defense of bush/grimm. Not.

Posted by: Hannah on April 28, 2011 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

For a brief article on the allegations made against Grimm in 1999:
http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/34/18/all_grimmdeblasio_2011_5_6_bk.html

Posted by: c u n d gulag on April 28, 2011 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

To spin that fairy tale successfully, Grimm needs the Bush years to have unfolded decades ago, not as recently as 2001-2009.

It's easy enough to take lie about an incident such as U.S. government agents' tragic siege of separatist Randy Weaver and family at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in autumn 1992. That is, to claim (as a few Republicans still like to do) that it happened on Bill Clinton's watch, not that of his predecessor George H.W. Bush. (The Branch Davidian siege at Waco in 1993, now that was during the Clinton years.)

But the economic shock of September 2008 is too recent to ascribe to then-President-elect Barack Obama. Even Fox News-addicted Republicans know that. The best they can do is insist that it was a delayed reaction from the Clinton Years, which in some ways -- bankster-enabling legislation, for example -- it was. The lethal combination was tax cutting though two wars, along with the on-the-cuff passage of the Medicare prescription drug bill. Rep. Grimm surely knows that, loath as he is to admit it.

Posted by: Jerry Elsea on April 28, 2011 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

"It's 1947 already. I don't understand why germany isn't completely rebuilt."

Posted by: paul on April 28, 2011 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Great link, Rob, thanks for sharing.

I can relate to all of this. It's like pulling teeth to get my sister to see that our deficit is NOT because Obama is a raging socialist.

Posted by: jTh on April 28, 2011 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

Not to defend an imbecile, but...the tax cuts under Bush were set to expire at the end of last year and thus would not have added to this year's and future deficist except for the fact that Obama agreed to extend them. I realize that this was not Obama's first choice, but the fact remains that Obama now owns the Bush-era tax cuts.

Posted by: KenS on April 28, 2011 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Everyone knows that there is a big red "reset" button on the podium where Obama made his inaugural address[...]
Posted by: Caffeind on April 28, 2011 at 12:48 PM

Just goes to show how much "everyone knows". The reset button was pushed by the Electoral College, on Nov 5, 2008, *not* during the inaugural address, 3 months later.

Posted by: exlibra on April 28, 2011 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

KenS -- it is a joint ownership, and by far the biggest share belongs to the House and Senate Republicans, like Rep. Grimm, who insisted on that bargain.

Btw, does it strike anyone else that Rep. Grimm's response is particularly insulting when it was directed at comments and questions FROM HIS CONSTITUENTS at a town hall meeting? It would be bad enough for him to make such a petulant complaint if he was delivering the Republican response to a speech by Barack Obama, or responding on the House floor to a Democratic lawmaker, but for him to try to draw the press into supporting him against his own constituent's is truly pathetic.

Posted by: tanstaafl on April 28, 2011 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

"...but for him to try to draw the press into supporting him against his own consitutuents is truly peathetic." tanstaafl @ 5:04 PM.

Undoubtedly he's just used to Fox's "journalists backing up his every statement.
GOP = Galt(ridden), Offensive and Pathetic...

Posted by: Doug on April 28, 2011 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK
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