Since then, they’ve become Republicans.
I used to be one, at least from a fiscal point of view. The Republicans say they believe in limiting the size of government, preventing a nanny state, lowering taxes, protecting privacy, and keeping hands off business.
Good ideas, right?
But while they’re chanting those mantras, and while “Tax-and-Spend-Democrats” is a label used as a slur in Sen. John McCain’s campaign advertisements, the Republicans are spending us all into a black hole of debt.
The National Debt has increased an average of $3.6 billion per day since Sept. 28, 2007, reaching $10 trillion on Sept. 30, 2008. In 2006, the government spent $406 billion paying just the interest on the National Debt.
The total debt has jumped more than $500 billion every year since 2003. Meanwhile, the federal budget for 2008 is the largest ever — with a record $438 billion shortfall.
What could you buy with $10 trillion?
I don’t think people understand how much money we’re talking about. I have a calculator.
With 305 million people in the United States, $10 trillion would be enough to cut a check for $34,000 for every man, woman, and child — including illegal immigrants.
There are 124,000 chronically homeless people in the U.S. With $10 trillion, we could afford to give each of those homeless people $80 million.
The 2009 Honda Civic base model is priced at just over $15,000. You could buy 649 million of the cars with $10 trillion.
The Statue of Liberty cost $530,000 to build in 1886 (the statue and the base included). With $10 trillion, we could build 827,458 of them today, adjusted for inflation.
The Space Shuttle Endeavor cost $1.7 billion to build. With $10 trillion, we could build 5,582 space shuttles.
If we fed every single person in the U.S. a McDonald’s double cheeseburger for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day, with $10 trillion we could feed everyone for almost 30 years. I’m not saying it would be healthy.
Jacob’s Field (now Progressive Field) in Cleveland cost about $176 million to build. You could build 56,818 of them with $10 trillion.
The average teacher for grades K-12 makes $46,752 per year. With $10 trillion, we could afford to hire nearly 214 million teachers.
As of August 2008, the average home in the U.S. cost $203,100. That means with $10 trillion, we could buy a house for everyone living in Atlanta.
Who is spending all this money?
We didn’t used to have much debt as a nation. From World War II through Vietnam, it held fairly steady at well under $300 billion. It started to seriously spend up under Gerald Ford (R) and continued at a steady clip under Jimmy Carter (D).
The real problems began when Ronald Reagan (R) took office. During his eight years as president, the debt ballooned by $2 trillion, and continued on that line under George H.W. Bush (R). Spending only slowed when Bill Clinton (D) put tight restrictions on budgetary benchmarks.
This chart says it all: Mathematical proof that Republicans have not only outspent Democrats in the past half-century, but they have done so at an incomparable rate.
At the end of the Clinton presidency, the National Debt was nearly flatlining at under $6 trillion. Then George W. Bush was elected, campaigning hard on the old Republican bread and butter of lower taxes, smaller government and more restricting federal spending policies.
“Spending without discipline, spending without priorities, and spending without an end,” he criticized Democratic candidate Al Gore in 2000 during a speech in Minneapolis. “Al Gore’s massive spending would mean slower growth and higher taxes. And it could mean an end to this nation’s prosperity.”
Under Bush II’s leadership since 2001, the debt has increased by $4 trillion — that’s more than 60 percent — and America’s economy has been plunged into chaos. That is not fiscal discipline. That is not small government.
In the first five years of Bush’s administration, while he had the backing of a Republican congress, federal spending exploded by 45 percent. In his final year in office, Bush has asked for $3.1 trillion going into 2009, which is a spending increase of 6 percent over 2008 and 67 percent over 2001.
Cut taxes and spend
Democrats have been labeled as the “tax and spend” party since the days of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal. But no president since FDR has orchestrated such blatant expansion of the federal government and its spending as Bush II.
Worse, his initiatives have been riddled with problems. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform found $1.1 trillion was spent between 2002 and 2008 on 700 projects that were mismanaged, wasteful, fraudulent, or abusive.
At the same time he was spending recklessly, the Bush congress agreed to lower taxes. So less money has been coming in to feed more programs, which in turn means the country has to borrow even more to stay “solvent,” by which we apparently mean choked on debt but not officially pronounced dead.
The Tax Policy Center has projected the impact of the Bush tax cuts will cost $1.9 trillion in lost revenue between 2008 and 2017. By that same year, the tax cuts will have increased the National Debt by another $3.4 trillion.
Republican fiscal conservatism, according to the math, is a joke. No, it’s a myth. If you want better government, choose a party that won’t lie (as much) about its spending policies. But for the love of your pocketbook, don’t let the Republicans continue to choke us to death while telling us they’re good with money.