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Will We Learn Our Lessons?

October 25, 2010

Let’s learn the lessons of the past. Here’s a nice reminder from Hot Air this morning about how the Democrats declared an end to deficit spending when the took over the house in 2007.  Ed Morrissey notes a recent history of spending.

  • Republicans in control for 12 years: Added $4.034 trillion (avg $336.17 billion per year)
  • Republicans in control during Bush era: Added $3.201 trillion (avg $533.5 billion per year)
  • Democrats in control of Congress during Bush/Obama era:  Added $4.603 trillion (avg 1.48 trillion per year)

Democrats did not aim to control spending when they took control of Congress.  They aimed to expand government at a historic rate, and they succeeded beyond even their wildest dreams.  And what happened when Democrats finally got around to passing pay-go, more than three years later?  They made more exceptions to it than bills that actually got the pay-go treatment.

But there’s a further lesson here.  As a Libertarian friend of mine has said, the Republican Party is the one the grows the government slower.  It still grows the government.  While I’m happy for the fact that it grows slower, it still grows at a rate most businesses would view as aggressive.  Or perhaps reckless.

The Republicans are running on a broad plank of fiscal responsibility, and they talk about cutting spending, cutting the already-passed healthcare, etc.  If the people see the Republicans get into power and keep spending money, then they’re effectively standing on that nice plank while they saw it in two.  Lynn talks about the Wile E. Coyote awards… let’s not see them aim for becoming quick nominees.

This is going to be all about expectations.  If the expectation is that any party can sweep into power and enact broad change, well… then those won’t be met.  I think the party that gets or keeps power needs to be very clear on its agenda before the new session starts.  Otherwise, we might see more “change” in 2012.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 25, 2010 3:39 pm

    This site has been around for a brief period of time. If you’d bothered to look at it, you’ll note that we opposed TARP in all its forms (the $80B from the Bush administration, approved w/o PayGo by the Democratic congress, as well as the much larger TARP passed during the Obama/Dem congress w/o PayGo).

    You’d probably also note that we’ve never referred to President Bush as a fiscal conservative, because he was not. He was a self-described compassionate conservative who liked to cross the aisle with a blank check to spend wildly on programs of dubious merit… such as No Child Left Behind (at least, none were left behind alone… we just cut them all off equally).

    The most cogent point I found in my perusal of these comments (slightly updated: I meant to also add that I’d checked out stuff at your site), Bob, is that the Democrats cut the rate of deficit spending from 2009 to 2010. Well, um, that’s probably because the nation couldn’t stand another TARP, and Healthcare hasn’t hit hard enough yet. But if you’d like to give the Democrats credit for that and put it in front of the voters, I’m sure the Republicans will happily let the polls set the national opinion there.

    All this said, I do appreciate your desire to provide data that says the same thing I started saying. Republicans would do well to learn the lessons of the congresses and administrations before them that profligate spending will neither get us out of economic problems, nor will they entice voters in the next cycle. You could be a bit more, um, condensed about it, but the validation is fine.

  2. October 25, 2010 1:47 pm

    What’s so irritating is that “conservatives” pretend they’re fiscally conservative and understand economics. Go ahead, remain in denial that Republicans put the economy into a nose dive.

    Make continuing commitments and deny responsibility: *off-budget* debt for invasions & occupations of Iraq & Afghanistan (>$1 trillion … going on $4 – 6 trillion ), tax cuts primarily for the wealthy ($1.8 trillion), Medicare Part D with no-competition prescription drug industry gifts (~$1 trillion), and the $700B TARP bank bailout (that was by Bush, not Obama). All in all that’s about $5.5 trillion of spending & tax cuts, all on borrowed money. And the interest on that debt is a gift that keeps on adding to debt.

    The graph at shows that, along with the economic downturn, the Bush tax cuts and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq explain virtually the entire deficit over the next ten years. Same story here:

    Oh, yes … the privatization panacea … “privatizing and allowing the market to grow again….” That worked out so well with Bush privatizing the military operations & support … with little, if any, accountability when they didn’t do the job properly resulting in electrocutions (http://www.thelangrepor/featured/american-soldiers-electrocuted-after-warning-issued-in-2004/) and projects not completed (“children’s hospital that Bechtel was contracted to build in Basra was supposed to cost $40 million, but it went up to $270 million before the U.S. decided to stop the project” Privatizing … meaning rampant cronyism.

    No, Republicans do not spend money slower … they have too many cronies to reward.

    Now, if only Bush had succeeded in privatizing Social Security … as Republicans still want to do.

  3. October 25, 2010 12:26 pm

    This is what’s so irritating – the Democrats never pretended to be fiscally responsible other than the election of 2008. The Republicans talk about being fiscally responsible but from ’00-’06 they really weren’t. Now, it’s not really fair to say the Republicans were responsible for the deficit in ’06-’08 because if Pelosi were truly as consciencious as our friendly “please visit my website’ troll indicates, she could have told Bush to stuff it wrt his recommended budgets & not given any $ to what he proposed they spend $ on. Both are shamefully culpable. As you said Fister – Republicans weren’t fiscally conservative except that they spent money slower. Given the deficit tripled in 2 years with the Democrats, I think I’m ok with spending money slower…but I greatly prefer privatizing and allowing the market to grow again….

  4. October 25, 2010 9:53 am

    This is totally incorrect. Republicans have been more irresponsible during the Bush years than any party in history … incredibly even more irresponsible than Reagan/Bush.

    Republicans put the economy into an accelerating nose dive and now refuse to accept responsibility for what they did. Changing the pilot does not, and cannot, arrest the decline in a year or two. That said, the fact is that the Democrats have reduced the rate of deficit spending in 2010, compared to 2009.

    I document this at
    See The Source of So Much Debt? at

    I also explain that Obama’s policies will fail. But, if he were to even try to do what’s needed to improve the economy by balancing “trade”, economic “conservatives” would scream bloody murder about how that would be “socialist government control” and not allow it. Corporatist Republicans and corporatist DLC Democrats have done all they can to destroy the U.S. economy and they’ve done a “heck of a job”.

    And no, they will not learn our lessons.

  5. October 25, 2010 9:25 am

    Jim, this is spot on. Neither party is fiscally responsible in the past 20 years. I fully expect the Republicans to be hoisted on their own petard in 2012 (assuming the gains forecast come to pass next Tuesday.)

    Must be nice to be able to spend with reckless abandon and still attempt the label of fiscal conservative……

    • October 25, 2010 9:46 am

      This is where a grass-roots movement like the Tea Party proves itself. If it actually enforces a wholesale sweep of fiscally unconservative thinking over the next four years, then it wins. Otherwise, it’s just another set of angry voters.

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