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July 14, 2011 11:25 AM ‘This is George W. Bush’s debt’

By Steve Benen

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough talked about the debt-ceiling fight this morning, and said something rather unexpected. (thanks to F.B. for the tip)

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For those who can’t watch clips from your work computers, Scarborough, the former Republican congressman, argued, “Let’s make no mistake about it right now: increasing this debt ceiling? This is George W. Bush and the Republican Party’s debt.

“Five years from now? It’s Barack Obama’s. But right now, this is what happens when you spend the type of money you spent from 2001 to 2009…. This is what we have been led to in 2011. This is George W. Bush’s debt…. You can’t just put this on Barack Obama.”

Now, to a certain extent, Scarborough is only telling part of the story. From his perspective, Bush-era fiscal irresponsibility is the result of reckless spending, and it’s a point with merit. Republicans paid for two wars, health care expansion, and a new education law without even trying to pay for any of it. What Scarborough neglects to mention is that the debt spiraled because of tax cuts, which the GOP also didn’t try to pay for.

But the host’s larger point is accurate and important. Those complaining most about raising the debt ceiling don’t fully appreciate the fact that Democrats aren’t the ones who created this mess.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

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  • slappy magoo on July 14, 2011 11:30 AM:

    Democrats say this is the Bush debt. Republicans say this is the Obama debt. They're all the same. You can't trust any of them. I'm not going to vote anymore.


    And that's how the GOP wins.

  • anonymous coward on July 14, 2011 11:33 AM:

    "Republicans paid for two wars, health care expansion, and a new education law without even trying to pay for any of it."

  • SYSPROG on July 14, 2011 11:37 AM:

    Yes Steve but what you DIDN'T report is then they had Toomey on that said 'well yeah but NOW we need to screw the middle class in order to PAY for all that excess. VOTE FOR US and we'll make it RIGHT.' Really? Like I'd trust you AGAIN? And Slappy? OF COURSE, you will vote. Otherwise it's even WORSE.

  • Josef K on July 14, 2011 11:40 AM:

    Does anyone else wonder why in hell Eric Cantor is part of these talks, given his financial incentive to see the US economy go into the ditch?

    Okay, that's a bit harsh, but what other interpretation is there? And the question about his portfolio remains unanswered.

  • steve duncan on July 14, 2011 11:40 AM:

    Would a newly hired janitor get much sympathy from the building staff if he always took pain to point out the current mess in the office was the result of the LAST (lousy) janitor in their employ?

  • han's solo on July 14, 2011 11:48 AM:

    Of course then Joey Scar spent the rest of the mourning (misspelling intentional) calling the show the "Democratic Power Hour."

    If there is one thing I've noticed about Mourning Joe, it is that it is a much better show when Joe is on vacation.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on July 14, 2011 11:50 AM:

    Who paying attention didn't already know that it was a Republican made fiscal mess?

    http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=90

    And since the Great Depression was caused by deregulation and weak enforcement - Republican ideas with Democratic complicity - so the downturn was caused by Republican ideas.

    Republican ideas are 100% responsible for the mess the country's in.

  • Mr. Serf Man on July 14, 2011 11:50 AM:

    Josef K
    As I said before . They are all multimillionaires and will not really be affected by this.
    They all have their short sales ready to go with their broker, so they will make a killing when the crash comes.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on July 14, 2011 11:54 AM:

    And oh yeah, ...

    Republicans being the source of the nation's woes don't hesitate to tell us their solution: the same thing that caused the mess, tax cuts and more deregulation. Then they tell us that the people who have to sacrifice are those who are least capable of doing so. Clear as day their end game: Kill Social Security, Kill Medicare, Kill the EPA, kill, kill, kill the government and the society (that made it possible for them to be where they are). Disgusting.

  • T2 on July 14, 2011 11:54 AM:

    "Those complaining most about raising the debt ceiling don�t fully appreciate the fact that Democrats aren�t the ones who created this mess."

    I think this statement misses the point. Those complaining 1) don't care if it's not Obama's fault,they'll blame him anyway, and 2) they are hypocrites of the highest order, literally blinded by their hypocrisy.

  • bobbo on July 14, 2011 11:54 AM:

    Which raises the question: who is feeding Scarborough this new talking point?

  • Ralph Kramden on July 14, 2011 11:56 AM:

    Gotta quibble with something here, Steve.

    When the Congress extended the Bush tax cuts, and Obama signed on, Obama took on some significant responsibility for our current fiscal insanity.

  • skippybkroo on July 14, 2011 11:57 AM:

    i hate when people pay for things without trying to pay for things.

    ps, this stupid capcha program is frakkin impossible! this is the forth time i had to try to guess the blurry made up word i was supposed to type in...

  • c u n d gulag on July 14, 2011 11:57 AM:

    If a doctrinaire Conservative hack like Cup O' Schmoe starts to get it, and David Brooks, too, maybe there IS hope!

    Ah, but I tuned to O'Rally for a second by accident last night and caught Lou Dobbs' act.
    What a profound asshole and hack.

    There's a man who sold his soul to the company store!

  • Grumpy on July 14, 2011 11:58 AM:

    What Scarborough neglects to mention is that the debt spiraled because of tax cuts, which the GOP also didnt try to pay for.

    Such a rich irony that the national debt becomes an urgent issue (for no particular reason) in the same year that the debt had been forecast to be paid off entirely, back when we had a budget surplus -- a forecast immediately negated by the 2001 tax cut.

  • steve duncan on July 14, 2011 12:28 PM:

    It's difficult to understate how much our defense spending hurts the economy. More specifically (and relatedly) the estimated trillion(s?) spent in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last 10 years. It's probably true Bin Laden crippled this nation merely by dropping two skyscrapers in NYC. For the cost of a few flight lessons he burned through enough money to render the current budget mess moot. Pretty effective warfare tactics really. A lot more cost effective than our own DoD. Then again West Point hasn't gotten much right since 1945. Korea = a draw. Vietnam = ass kicked. Iraq & Afghanistan = hugs and kisses from Lockheed, Boeing, Raytheon, Halliburton and Blackwater.

  • N.Wells on July 14, 2011 12:30 PM:

    "Those complaining most about raising the debt ceiling dont fully appreciate the fact that Democrats arent the ones who created this mess."
    Oh, they appreciate it. They are simply lying their heads of about it.

    They intended a huge deficit to result from their policies, in order that this sort of crisis would come to pass one way or another, so that they could use the crisis to "starve the beast" and force cuts in the social spending that they despise. I thought they would exploit a crisis, force a balanced budget amenment, or just get everyone hysterical about the deficit, rather than actually deliberately precipitating a wholly unnecessary crisis. (They may have let things go a bit farther than they intended by trying simultaneously to exploit a ginned-up crisis and to beat up on Obama.) I also think I may have misjudged that many of them hate social spending even more than raising taxes. They are clearly comfortable with numerous routes to bankrupting government. Tax cuts are great for them, and so is letting their wealthy friends plunder the national wealth. Failing all else, running up the deficit by wasting money on wars of convenience and give-aways to the pharmaceutical industry were clearly also acceptable. However, their recent actions make sense only as kabuki designed to ensure a default. Default will cause interest rates to rise calamitously, thereby ballooning the deficit and making it impossible for the government to raise money or in fact do anything other than make interest payments on previous borrowing. That would seem to me to make future tax increases inevitable, just to pay ongoing bills, and would guarantee a huge waste of national wealth on interest payments, but it would effectively preclude social spending, and I'm now suspecting that to many republicans, that end would be worth the cost.

  • N.Wells on July 14, 2011 12:31 PM:

    crap - lying their heads OFF.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on July 14, 2011 12:43 PM:

    Make no mistake: Republicans knew what they were doing in 2001 when they started the nation down this road. Almost everybody I know saw it. Now the day is here.

  • Kane on July 14, 2011 1:30 PM:

    In listing the reasons for today's current debt, it should not be forgotten that Congress voted to repeal the estate tax in 2001. That accounts for more than $30 billion a year over the past decade in lost revenues.

  • j on July 14, 2011 2:05 PM:

    Gulag - I think Lou Dobbs owns some pretty fancy horse stables, his mega tax breaks may be one of the things in the deficit plan, after all he is a poor millionaire.

  • Kathy in St. Louis on July 18, 2011 8:54 PM:

    "Would a newly hired janitor get much sympathy from the building staff if he always took pain to point out the current mess in the office was the result of the LAST (lousy) janitor in their employ?"

    Yes, for sure, let's compare Obama to the janitor. I believe that Scarborough made this comment, not Obama.

    Very classy

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