Hint: the correct answer is not 'all of us'...
A conservative's ability to project never ceases to amaze me. Recently, in a long discussion thread with a deeply conservative friend, I had a little epiphany. I realized that my friend, in most other ways rational, seriously believed that the Budget 'crisis' was the fault of the Obama's administration 'out of control spending' and various entitlement programs going broke. I tried to set the record straight by outlining the last ten years or so of US Budget history in a quick, hopefully easy to follow manner.
1) The deficit crisis we are trying to solve was created by Republican deregulatory zealotry, supplyside economics, tax cuts for billionaires and George W. Bush's useless wars of choice . Those in dire need of empirical evidence need to look at three numbers:
+ $230 Billion - the amount that Clinton's left the country as surplus
- $450 Billion - the amount of the deficit that Bush left this country ( the largest deficit up to that time--notably the other 4 were also on Bush's watch)
-1.4 Trillion - the 2009 the deficit --give or take a few dollars. Conservatives look at the -450 Billion number and the -1.4 Trillion number and start screaming slash the government, but what they don't say is that this deficit is a direct result of Bush's budget still and his policies. The 2009 fiscal year began October 1, 2008, nearly four months before Obama took office. The budget for the entire fiscal year was largely set in place while Bush was in the White House.
So to summarize Republican George W. Bush inherited a surplus and left us with a massive deficit--the largest in our history -- and not just one, but two unwinnable wars.
2) More detail. Shortly before Obama took office, a deal was struck that blasted billions into the economy to 'stabilize it' -- this was a deal brokered by both parties. I did not agree with it at the time and was strongly opposed to the deal being made without proper regulatory controls on the loaned funds. The refusal of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner et. al, to reinstate some sensible regulatory controls on the 'advanced products' CDSs (Credit Default Swaps) etc.. offered up by the hedge fund managers who caused the crisis was a major mistake. Much of this crisis occurred because of the repeal of sensible financial regulations: the repeal of the Glass Steagall Act (http://en.wikipedia.org/...) -- something Republican Phil Gram and the conservative establishment campaigned for relentlessly arguing it would 'free up' the markets. It did; and now we've learned why regulations are important in the first place. Without them, Wall Street traders, hedge fund managers and coprorate banks will turn modern economies into casinos and our little life savings will become so much pocket change. Given the rabid deregulatory rhetoric of every Republican administration since Reagan, conservatives own this issue. They campaign on it and they deserve the blame for the crisis they have created.
3) Budgets are moral documents. Billions were robbed from public coffers to pay for the bail out, to pay for two useless wars and to pay for billionaire tax cuts. But House Republican Paul Ryan's sadistic budget does not recover a dime of any of those funds; funds that were effectively stolen through theft or incompetence--take your pick--from the vast majority of the tax paying public. This 'debt crisis' is only real to the extent that we refuse to stop endless war or fund them in a way that makes sense which means bringing taxes back to a level that can support such endeavours. Now having generated this crisis, predominantly wealthy conservatives demand that the middle and lower classes pay for it. And they are using the crisis--indeed, driving the crisis--in order to destroy services that have helped to create the middle class and have been in place since the New Deal: Medicare, Medicaide, Social Security, public broadcasting, education etc. So you have the sorry example of conservatives blowing a hole in the budget for ten years wide enough to drive a thousand Humvees through, and turning aournd and demanding everyone but the billionaires and corporations who caused the crisis, pay for it. This is an immoral project. Conservatives can scream and wave their hands all they want about 'structural deficits', but the problems lies not with the stars, but with themselves (or at least their regressive ideology that liberates billionaires while enslaving everyone else).
Or, as one pithy twitterer tweeted, "Remember when Planned Parenthood, NPR and the world's climate scientists crashed the market, wiped out half our 401Ks and took TARP money? ... Me neither."