While it's true that Congressional Republicans have taken their ideological and racist rage and spitefulness to new levels of late, 104 of them, in particular, have clearly demonstrated why their group picture is adjacent to the word "hypocrite" in Websters. Grab your smelling salts, because here's a news flash: President George W. Bush wasn't exactly a fiscal conservative. In fact, in 2004 alone, he added $800 billion to the nation's debt, and Republicans, fat, dumb and happy, went along, no strings attached. In fact, 104 of the Republicans who voted for President Bush's debt ceiling increase still serve today; and, for the sake of clarification, those 104 are today voting against a debt ceiling increase on the grounds of "austerity" and "job-killing Obamacare" and "fiscal conservatism" and whatever other silly notion enters their demented minds on any given day.
In 2011, when the brilliant idea dawned on Republicans that they could begin using the debt ceiling as a pawn in their trash-the-President game, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley said, "My take is that we should have thought about not increasing the debt limit before we spent the money . . . But the point is, we’ve got tremendous leverage by not increasing the debt to get a lot of things done that we want done – tackling entitlements and tackling a constitutional amendment requiring a balance budget. I support moving in both of those areas . . . ."
In 2004, however, when Bush's debt ceiling increase was on the table, Senator Grassley was singing a different tune: " . . . [W]ithout an increase in the debt limit, our Government will face a choice between breaking the law by exceeding the statutory debt limit, or breaking faith with the public by defaulting on our debt. Neither choice is acceptable.”
Wonder which of the above two choices - breaking the law or breaking faith with the public - has now become acceptable?
Rep. Steve King, one of the more loopy Congressmen, likened the threat of default today as nothing more than the President's alarmist tactics: "I don’t think the credit of the United states is going to be collapsed. I think that all this talk about a default has been a lot of demagoguery, false demagoguery." In 2004, he voted for a clean debt ceiling increase of $800 billion under Bush without a whimper, evidently deeming it essential, and not "false demagoguery."
Rep. Paul Ryan - whose budget and policies Americans soundly rejected in 2012 - says the solution to the Republican-driven debt ceiling crisis is for "the president to come to the table" [translation: Give us what we want or we pull the trigger, and we've got mighty itchy trigger fingers]. In 2004, he voted for Bush's $800 billion debt ceiling increase without any conditions.
Republican Rep. Martha Blackburn, with host Lawrence O'Donnell, was asked about her vote, in 2006, on a one-line bill to increase the debt ceiling under Bush. Her answer, "What the American people would really like to see us do is to get this out-of-control, wasteful Washington spending under control . . . This is a very serious issue. It is one where we cannot kick the can down the road." Well, it appears that, since 2004, Blackburn has been content with kicking the can down the road. In fact, in 2004, under Bush, Blackburn complacently voted to increase the debt ceiling by $800 billion; and in 2006, when the deficit was $7 trillion, Blackburn voted again for a clean increase.
When President Obama took office, the debt was about $10.5 trillion, over $5 trillion of it added during Bush's term. And of course, part of what Republicans like to add to President Obama's tally includes TARP, passed under Bush, the funding of two wars, implemented under Bush, and the Bush tax cuts. By simply adding up the totals of bills President Obama himself has signed into law, he's responsible for debt of about $983 billion, one-fifth of what Bush laid on the American public. And yet, while President Bush was spending like a drunken sailor, he had the hearty endorsement of his Republican Congress, who passed five separate clean debt ceiling increases without batting an eye.
As we sit here today, under President Obama, our federal government is on track to post the smallest annual budget deficit since he took office, and the CBO estimates that the number will continue to improve. But Republicans really don't care about fiscal conservatism, or the debt, or whether Obamacare kills jobs (that's evident in that they shut down the government, thereby temporarily killing federal jobs, ostensibly over Obamacare). That's all smoke and mirrors. What they do care about is halting the Obama success story. All evidence indicates that President Obama's policies have had positive effects on this country: He's steadily reducing the national debt; Obamacare is proving to be initially successful, with the public signing up on the exchanges and, as an unintended consequence of the Republican government shutdown, Obamacare's approval rating has risen 20% since the government shutdown commenced; unemployment has gone down; consumer confidence has increased significantly; the stock market was healthy (until the recent Republican shenanigans, at least), and more Americans trust President Obama to do what's right for the economy than Congress. And he's accomplished all this while 900 tons of obstinate Republicans hang on his ankles, trying to stem the tide of goodness.
Republican bumper stickers should read: "Stop Obama, before he helps Americans again."