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With the advent of a Democratic administration and the emergence of the Tea Party, conservatives have once again (this time with feeling!) re-discovered their interest in fiscal responsibility.  Shocked to find gambling deficit spending taking place within (and without, and everywhere in-between) the beltway, they have rededicated themselves to putting our fiscal house in order.  Or have they?

We begin our tale in ancient times, back when inflation was a four-letter word and air-traffic controllers still had jobs.  And let you be the judge.

In 1980, the Republican party platform attacked the profligate spending of the Carter administration and vowed to stop it:

The Republican Party believes balancing the budget is essential... We believe that an essential aspect of balancing the budget is spending restraint by the federal government...

Decrease in Federal Debt compared to GDP, 1977-1981: -3.2%
Increase in Federal Debt compared to GDP, 1981-1985: +11.3%

Fool me once.

In 1984, the Republican party again committed itself to eliminating the deficit, this time in an era of economic prosperity:

The Republican Party believes the federal budget must be balanced. We are committed to eliminating deficits and the excessive spending that causes them.

Increase in Federal Debt compared to GDP, 1985-1989: +9.2%

Fool me twice.

In 1988, the Republican party tried again, issuing itself a sternly worded letter, putting itself on notice that it would not be content until a balanced budget was achieved:

We will not be content until government establishes a balanced budget... It's time to push through the Republican agenda for budget reform to teach the Congress the kind of financial responsibility that characterizes the American family...

Increase in Federal Debt compared to GDP, 1989-1993: +13.1%

Fool me three times, and along will come the likes of Ross Perot.  From 1993 to 2001, the Republicans lost executive control, arguably because of their profigate spending over the previous 12 years.  The resulting emergence of Perot, causing a vote split, at least aided in the resulting Democratic victory:

Decrease in Federal Debt compared to GDP, 1993-1997: -0.6%
Increase in Federal Debt compared to GDP, 1997-2001: -8.2%

In 2000, the Republican party decided that something President Clinton had achieved, paying down the national debt, was a continuing moral imperative.  

The federal government has operated in the black for the last two years and is now projected to run a surplus of nearly $5 trillion over ten years...   we are also determined ... to pay down the national debt. Reducing that debt is both a sound policy goal and a moral imperative. Our families and most states are required to balance their budgets; it is reasonable to assume the federal government should do the same.

Increase in Federal Debt compared to GDP, 2001 - 2005: +6.9%

And we all know now how much the Republicans respect 'moral imperatives' like the 6th commandment.

In 2004, not willing to leave bad fortune telling to economists, the Republican party platform promised to shrink the deficit they themselves had promised to eliminate down to 1.5% of GDP.

...because the President and Congress enacted pro-growth economic policies, the deficit is headed strongly in the right direction. Next year's projected deficit, at 2.7 percent of GDP, would be smaller than those in 14 of the last 25 years. As Republicans in Congress work with the President to restrain spending and strengthen economic growth, the federal deficit will fall to 1.5 percent of the nation's economic output in 2009 -- well below the 2.2 percent average of the last 40 years.

Increase in Federal Debt compared to GDP, 2005 - 2009: +11.2%

In 2008, for the first time, the Republican party gave up, and refused to discuss the deficit.
In fact, the word 'deficit' is not found in their Party platform,  Instead, the platform attacked the Congressional budget process, something Republicans were in control of for much of the last twelve years.  And they decided to go for the jugular:

Republicans will attack wasteful Washington spending immediately.

Imagine that.  Being against wasteful spending!  The mind boggles.

Now here we are, in 2010, and they are at it again, this time in the form of the Contract from America, the Tea Party Manifesto:

  1. Demand a Balanced Budget...
  1. Restore Fiscal Responsibility...
  1. End Runaway Government Spending...

Fool me once.  Shame on you.  Fool me twice.  Shame on me.  Fool me over and over and over and over again?  Shakespeare, Schiller, and even H.L. Menken stand awestruck before us.

And just how much longer can a nose grow?

(for a graph showing changes in US debt as a percent of GDP, see here)

Originally posted to jpmassar on Fri Apr 16, 2010 at 10:06 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  I'm forwarding this directly to my neighbor (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      x, grada3784, jpmassar, plankbob, ozsea1

      who, will tell me that the internet is filled iwth only lies...

      ...two which I remind him the Internet was created by universities as a research tool and still can lead a person to good information if they seek it...

      ...will then tell me he doesn't understand the internet the way i do and doesn't have the time anyway.

      So there it is -

      I can't be trusted because I use the internet and the net is filled with lies...

      ...when demonstrable proof of the facts are provided, there's simply no time to verify them.

      And so it goes.

      This is an outstanding diary.

      The problem we have is that the people we are trying to reach live comfortably in a vacuum...the space inside their skull.

      Keep up the good work. We need to make you famous for this one.

      George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

      by snafubar on Fri Apr 16, 2010 at 11:21:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Did you make that up? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        grada3784, snafubar, ozsea1

        The problem we have is that the people we are trying to reach live comfortably in a vacuum...the space inside their skull.

        Or is that a quote from somewhere?  It's good!

        •  nope that's me. I have been told I'm a fairly (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          grada3784, jpmassar, ozsea1

          clever writer, but I'm so hyperbolic and angry that short of being the Left's version of Rush Limbaugh and relegated to an adult-only platform so I can escape punishment for my use of words that rhyme with "other trucker"...I'm unemployed.

          But thanks.

          It's nice to know I"m not living in a vacuum.

          Now, if you would be so kind to check out my recently published but lengthy diary, I'd be honored.

          George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

          by snafubar on Fri Apr 16, 2010 at 11:31:41 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Okay, I did (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            grada3784, snafubar, ozsea1

            Zounds!

            •  Thanks. You see now why in an age of tweets (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              jpmassar, ozsea1

              that guys who write like I do just get filed in the "Too Much Time" file.

              ...and that also may be part of our (society's) problem.

              All of our thoughts cannot be solved by people who

              * admit they dont' have time to know or understand what's going on

              * admit that they don't have knowledge of the subjects at hand, but want to offer their opinion any way

              * who get pissed off when their uninformed short answer based on not all the information isn't taken seriously.

              Zounds!

              Thanks for the feedback. :)

              George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

              by snafubar on Fri Apr 16, 2010 at 03:50:52 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  I mean, "yes", I made that up. *doh* (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          grada3784, jpmassar, ozsea1

          George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

          by snafubar on Fri Apr 16, 2010 at 11:32:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  the internet is filled iwth only lies... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        snafubar

        'Tis true.  At least that part of the Internet that stores the Republican Party's platforms of late...

  •  great post! (6+ / 0-)

    Factual, well organized and documented, and to the point. Thanks!

    Intelligence is like four wheel drive. It doesn't keep you from getting stuck, it just gets you stuck in worse places.
    -bhurt

    by Orbital Mind Control Lasers on Fri Apr 16, 2010 at 10:31:42 AM PDT

  •  Heh (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rapala, grada3784, ozsea1, Hoghead99

    Well, I thought it was interesting to go dig through all the past Republican Party platforms on this issue...

  •  Keep up the good work! ..eom (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grada3784, snafubar, jpmassar, ozsea1

    Compost for a greener planet....got piles?

    by Hoghead99 on Fri Apr 16, 2010 at 10:34:05 AM PDT

  •  Andrew Sullivan weighs in (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grada3784, snafubar, kurt, plankbob, ozsea1

    And this is why, despite my own deep suspicion of big government, I remain unmoved by the tea-partiers. Their partisanship and cultural hostility to Obama are far more intense, it seems to me, than their genuine proposals to reduce spending and taxation. And this is largely because they have no genuine proposals to reduce spending and taxation.

    http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.co...

    •  More (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      grada3784, snafubar, kurt, Pris from LA, ozsea1

      Until its last months, the Bush administration could claim no such excuses for its awful debt-management. The big Bush jumps in discretionary spending, the big leap in entitlements under the unfunded Medicare D program, the long nation-building wars put off-budget, and the huge claims for executive power dominant in the first term: all these are far more damning to my mind than Obama's pragmatism in grappling with an economic collapse or even the healthcare reform, which at least formally claims to reduce the deficit and pay for itself (unlike Bush's Medicare-D).

    •  I've always liked Sullivan. That's a great quote. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      grada3784, kurt, Pris from LA, jpmassar, ozsea1

      "Their partisanship and cultural hostility to Obama are far more intense, it seems to me, than their genuine proposals to reduce spending and taxation."

      This is why my neighbor drives me nuts.

      Gay Marriage, oh noes!

      Tax and spend liberals!

      To which I say...GWB, 2001-2009; Republicans in the congress 1994-2006...

      who was standing in their way to live up to all this hyperbolic lying that they care about debt?

      George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

      by snafubar on Fri Apr 16, 2010 at 11:35:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  OK...this goes on my Hotlist. Thanks. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grada3784, Pris from LA, jpmassar, ozsea1

    "You can never sink so low in life that you can't be a bad example for somebody." - My Dad

    by briefer on Fri Apr 16, 2010 at 10:40:01 AM PDT

  •  Hahahaha Republicans fail HARD (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grada3784, kurt, Pris from LA, jpmassar, ozsea1

    These blowhards always pretend they know more about money matters than us soft-hearted librul hippies. But when their hand is on the tiller they invariably fvck things up spectacularly.

  •  The Bureau of the Public Debt has an (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grada3784, jpmassar, ozsea1

    interesting web site. It shows, among many other things that only for a couple of months late in the 2nd Clinton term did the national debt decrease. Not decrease by much, mind you.

    That's the overall national debt including the "borrowings" from the SS "trust fund".

    There is no SS trust fund. Just govt bonds. Special low interest rate bonds. When someone says the SS trust fund is now paying out more than it takes in, or will pay out more than it takes in, it's just smoke and mirrors. It's just revenue in and payments out like any other revenue stream and payments the government undertakes.

    Future government obligations are horrendous. There are no simple solutions to these obligations. There are no hard solutions that aren't political suicide.

    This debt burden and future obligations pale by comparison to 1) the continuing cost of Maintaining the American Empire and 2) the future cost of trying to mitigate the bad effects of global warming. (Houston, with all its chemical plants is barely above sea level now - how much to build a seawall for them?)

    So what you ask? Hell, I don't know. I worry about my great grandchildren. I worry about your great grandchildren. I wish more people did the same.

    What we learn from History: History repeats itself. History never repeats itself. Histories lessons are always ignored.

    by Hector Gonzalez on Fri Apr 16, 2010 at 11:02:36 AM PDT

    •  Note that the national debt does not have (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      grada3784, ozsea1

      to decrease in absolute terms.  All that has to happen is that it increase slower than GDP for it to eventually dwindle away into insignificance.

      That being said, that is not likely to happen, regardless of which party is in power.  The temptation to spend and pay for that spending in the future is simply too tempting for any ruling majority.

      •  Personally, I've never liked that % of GDP (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kurt, jpmassar, ozsea1

        analysis. It can fluctuate too much for my taste depending on the rise and fall of the domestic economy and, for that matter, how you measure GDP. I tend to think of interest on the national debt (and the expansion and maintenance of the American Empire) as something that could be spent on any number of things including debt buy down.

        I see no future for politicians who are willing to talk about hard choices. There are so many "third rails" in the political mindset these days that I despair of any solutions. Too many hard choices are compromised away or put off for implementation until 2020 or 2025. Or are just soft targets such as greenhouse gas reductions.

        What we learn from History: History repeats itself. History never repeats itself. Histories lessons are always ignored.

        by Hector Gonzalez on Fri Apr 16, 2010 at 01:15:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks great diary nt (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grada3784, snafubar, jpmassar, ozsea1

    To paraphrase Warren Ballentine: "We may have come here in separate boats but we're in the same one now"

    by OHknighty on Fri Apr 16, 2010 at 11:09:55 AM PDT

  •  Bingo (6+ / 0-)

    This is why I'm often boggled by the whole claim of Republican fiscal responsibility.  Reagan told them it was ok to put the country's debt on the credit card and they've been working at it ever since.  They'll give you general platitudes about cutting government waste, but then their examples add up to some miniscule percent of the federal budget (not that waste isn't important to control, but it's better for talking points that actually making an impact on the federal debt).   Meanwhile, they continually cite tax cuts as the universal cure-all.  Quite simply, they aren't.  Trying to starve the government into slashing programs will never yield the tiny government they consider ideal in their fantasy world.  Those policies do, however, increase the national debt.  

    Sigh

  •  Ronald Reagan: "Deficits Don't Matter" (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grada3784, kurt, Pris from LA, jpmassar, ozsea1

    George H. W. Bush and then George W. Bush helped to amass 7%, 20%, and 70% of the country's historical debt over the life of the country.  

    These same 3 Republican assholes were always talking that "Fiscal Responsibility" and "Fiscal Conservatism" HYPOCRISY.  

    The programmable idiots swallowed it hook, line, and sinker, especially from B actor Ronald Reagan.
    (They also swallowed that "Christian Family Values" and "Moral Superiority over Degenerate Liberal Democrats" bullshit that HYPOCRITICAL Republican politicians peddled to get into public office.)

    Since John F. Kennedy was president, every major economic advance for the working class has been made by Democratic presidents.  

    Republicans are the Party of the RICH, and they need to lie to programmable idiots to convince them to vote against their own interests in order to get into public office where they rig the system for the top 2%.  
    The "news" media plays a crucial role in this deception and has been taken over by the RICH for the purposes of spreading misinformation, propaganda, and lies in order to accomplish this end.

  •  The Republicans Are Not To Blame (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt, jpmassar, ozsea1

    Well, yes, I know. They are.

    But, beyond that, the elephant in the room is not so much the Republican elephant as the globalization elephant.

    Nobody can really balance the budget until we, collectively, in this country, stop spending beyond our means. We have been doing exactly that because we have been unwilling to give up our standard of living while we export jobs overseas. You can only pay off debt one of two ways (or a combination of the two): by earning it or by selling off assets. So far, we have been willing to get cheap products by sacrificing jobs and paying for them by borrowing and selling off assets. To get back on track we need to bring jobs back here, so that we have the earnings to pay off debt.

    The debt we have, both public and private, is way worse than the debt we've had in the past. We had a lot of debt from the second world war, but with our competitors in ruins it was relatively easy to pay it back. And, in any case, we largely owed it to ourselves (to Americans). But now we have staggering debt that we owe much more of to those in foreign countries. At the same time, our competitors are relatively stable and strong.

    We have to get wealth-creating jobs back in this country. The way to do that is with an international minimum wage. This is part of a package of demanding that any company that sells products here must make them (entirely) according to our workplace and environmental standards. Until we have and enforce this policy, jobs will continue to leak overseas, making paying off the debt that much harder.

    Republican or Democrat, it doesn't matter when it comes to debt. The way to get back to a balanced budget is to get a balanced economy, one that has its fair share of wealth-creating jobs.

  •  Bookmarked, thanks n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jpmassar

    Dream, that's the thing to do (Johnny Mercer)

    by plankbob on Sat Apr 17, 2010 at 04:04:38 AM PDT

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