Sunday, March 12, 2006

What Happened to Fiscally Responsible Republicans?

Mimikatz reminds us that Congress must raise the debt ceiling (the statutory limit on the amount of public debt the government may legally accumulate) once again. The fourth time in Dubya's presidency.

The debt ceiling has to be raised again because the public debt has risen by an astounding 40% since George W. Bush took office.

Although resort to the accounting gimmicks used by Secretary Snow has been common, it should be noted that when Clinton’s treasury secretary, Robert Rubin, used such tactics in 1996, when Congress refused to raise the debt ceiling, Republican reaction was somewhat different.
Back then, some lawmakers in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives called for Rubin's impeachment, saying his action usurped the powers of Congress. But in 2002, when the Bush administration was about to hit the $5.95 trillion debt limit it inherited from President Bill Clinton, then-Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill employed Rubin's tactic to buy time until Congress raised the debt ceiling to $6.4 trillion in June.

Alas, that limit lasted just 11 months. In May 2003, Congress authorized borrowing of $7.4 trillion. In November 2004, lawmakers upped the credit ante to $8.184 trillion. Now, Snow says the limit must be raised yet again to protect "the 'full faith and credit' of the United States."

The need to raise the debt ceiling for the fourth time in George Bush’s presidency is just the latest reminder of the incredible profiligacy of this Administration, something the Democrats hope to highlight when the matter comes up for a vote. By contrast, at the end of Bill Clinton’s last fiscal year (September, 2001) the cumulative U.S. public debt stood at $5.807 trillion. It had grown approximately $1.396 trillion during Clinton’s 8 years in office, less than the amount it grew during the one-term administration of the first George Bush. And lest we forget how this problem startedAh yes, when Ronald Reagan took office the debt ceiling was just $1 trillion.

Enter George W. Bush. In the four and a half years of the Bush Presidency, he and the Republican Congress have added $2.463 trillion to the debt, bringing it to almost $8,270,900,000, 000, an increase of 40% in less than five years. The current debt ceiling is $8.184 trillion. There is talk of raising it to $9.65 trillion, even though President Bush promised to halve the budget deficit (the yearly contribution to the cumulative debt) by one half by the time he leaves office.

Ah yes, the Reagan presidency. When Ronnie quadrupled the national debt in less than 8 years. Dubya still has three years to match that.

Those Republicans just spend, spend, spend. But hey, at least we got the guy responsible for 9-11. Oh, wait. No we didn't.