Friday, May 23, 2008

Republicans - Fiscally Conservative?

A little over a month ago, Garry Trudeau penned this spectacular strip for his Sunday Doonesbury comic.

To summarize: of our over $9 trillion dollars of national debt, 70% was accumulated under just three presidents (Reagan, Bush, Bush). Of 19 proposed budgets, only 2 were balanced.

Thus, the strip posed an important question: what's up with the myth of Republican fiscal responsibility?

Intrigued by this, I did some more reading. I found an article by Michael Kinsley (whose last name is pronounced like idiots think mine is) summarizing the 2005 Economic Report Of The President. His findings? On average, yearly Big Government spending increases at least 37% more under Republican administrations than Democratic ones. Since 1960, the average yearly federal deficit is $131 billion, but that number under Democratic presidents is only $30 billion. In an average Republican year, the deficit grows by $36 billion, while it shrinks $25 billion in an average Democratic year. National debt under Republican administrations goes up more than double the amount of increase under Democratic administrations.

I also found this report by Steve McGourty (links seems broken, so check here instead). He explains that since 1946, Democratic administrations have been responsible for increasing the national debt an average of 3.2% per year, while Republican administrations are responsible for an average increase of 9.7% (that's a three-to-one ratio). Since 1945, during any given year when Republicans have been in charge of both the Executive branch and the Congress, spending has never been reduced. He also notes that Reagan campaigned and got elected while calling for a balanced budget amendment, only to never submit a single balanced budget himself. Furthermore, under Reagan the national debt increased by more than 200%, the only beneficiary being the rich people whose taxes were cut. And if you find any of this surprising, you simply must read his summary/conclusions.*

I found several reports (check out this one, or this one) on zFacts that give more details regarding the brief summary in Trudeau's comic. Also, you can check out this graph, or follow this running total. The numbers and facts are truly stunning.

Moral of the story? Most people who name fiscal conservativism as a primary reason they vote for Republicans have been sadly, badly, terribly deceived.

1 comment:

Derek Timothy said...

* McGourty's summary and conclusions, quoted in full:

This missive is clearly biased against deficit spending. Getting past the hysteria, bias and rhetoric, certain facts about the United States national debt stand out:

1. Since the Neo-Conservative movement has become the dominant force in the Republican Party the national debt has grown and continues to grow at an unsustainable rate, by any measure you care to use.

2. Experience has shown that “trickle down tax cuts” only work to concentrate the nation’s wealth into fewer hands and never help to rebound the economy.

3. Mr. Bush has no viable plan to deal with the debt he has already created, and we cannot count on him to contain government spending in the future. (Perhaps the new Congress will help him here.)

4. The only time we have seen national debt reduction in the past 60 years was when Democrats were totally in charge of our government or when one party was in the White House and another ran Congress.

5. In the past 60 years when Republicans were in control of the presidency and both Houses of Congress, government spending was never reduced. The last time a Republican Congress reduced the national debt was in 1947, under Truman’s leadership.

6. The last time the debt was reduced was in 1961 during President Kennedy’s first year in office. It has been almost a half century, 46 years, since this nation has paid down any of its exponentially increasing debt. (Had President Bill Clinton been in office one more year we would probably have seen a debt decrease in 2001.)

...end quote.