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Yesterday, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) spoke before a bipartisan group of "elder-statesmen" and lambasted the GOP for playing deficit games—running up our debt and then "holding U.S. creditworthiness as hostage to a highly contentious right-wing ideological agenda."

"It is not tenable for us to hold ransom the creditworthiness of the United States," Hoyer said, adding that the GOP's negotiating posture "ignores that some of their own policies helped get us where we are today."

From there he recited the three decade history of the current debt most of which is the result of GOP policies.

"Republicans made the contradictory promises that cutting taxes would lead to higher revenues and would force lower spending," Hoyer said. "They did neither."

"Those predictions were clearly, demonstrably wrong. They failed to learn from those facts, however. The next time they were in power, the Republicans were again pushing deep tax cuts as a fiscal and economic cure-all....

President Bush's policies eliminated the entire Clinton surplus."

And he's absolutely right, though the Republicans in the crowd protested. Former Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) said "I would close it by saying you do a great job of making it appear that it is the Republican Party that is responsible for the debt. It's not correct to say that Democrats are not a big part of the debt problem of the United States." Of course, this didn't happen without some Democratic complicity:

deficit chart

Nor did this:

debt chart

Too many Dems went along with the disastrous Iraq war and a handful voted for the Bush tax cuts. But these updated charts from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities tell the story, and it reflects mostly on Republicans: "If not for the Bush tax cuts, the deficit-financed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the effects of the worst recession since the Great Depression (including the cost of policymakers’ actions to combat it), we would not be facing these huge deficits in the near term. By themselves, in fact, the Bush tax cuts and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will account for almost half of the $20 trillion in debt that, under current policies, the nation will owe by 2019."

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