Politics & Policy

Bennet Bombshell: Trillions in Debt, ‘Nothing to Show for It’

Sen. Michael Bennet’s recent appearance in Greeley, Colorado is sure to set political tongues wagging–Bennet is quoted as saying that though trillions of dollars of Federal debt has been incurred through spending since he was appointed to the Senate in January of 2009, “we have nothing to show for it”:

Michael Bennet, D-Colo,at a town hall meeting in Greeley last Saturday, Aug 21 said we had nothing to show for the debt incurred by the stimulus package and other expenditures calling the recession  the worst since the Great Depression. […]

Regarding spending during his time in office he said, “We have managed to acquire $13 trillion of debt on our balance sheet” and, “in my view we have nothing to show for it.” Speaking of the debt, he said our debt almost equals the economy. Regarding the current job situation, Bennet said the situation has been dire for over a decade saying, “We have created no net new jobs in the United States since 1998” which were the last two years of the Clinton administration. Pointing to a slide showing budget expenditures, he said that currently 65 percent of the budget was for social security, Medicaid and Medicare expenditures and that we could not grow our way out of debt.

Regarding the expiration of the Bush tax cuts Bennet would not commit to a position on whether to extend them simply saying, “I hope we look at it comprehensively.”

When asked about a recent report showing that government employees make more than their private sector counterparts said, “This is a time when we need to restrain wages in the public sector.” He said we need to make sure “our wages are not growing faster than inflation or faster than our growth.” Bennet also received a question about whether he would support card check and declined to give a firm answer saying, “I have not been a sponsor of the employee free choice act and the bill as written will not come to the floor to a vote.” He also said, “I believe strongly in the right of workers to collectively bargain and organize free from intimidation.” [emphasis added]

The Greeley Tribune’s quote is identical, adding a laundry list of things that Bennet feels have not been “invested in” adequately (the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act apparently notwithstanding):

“We have managed to acquire $13 trillion of debt on our balance sheet,” he said. “In my view we have nothing to show for it. We haven’t invested in our roads, our bridges, our waste-water systems, our sewer systems. We haven’t even maintained the assets that our parents and grandparents built for us.”

Bennet’s votes, in support of President Obama’s spending plans–including ARRA, have resulted in billions of dollars spent per day, and trillions of dollars of new debt.

But even $10 billion in the most recent “edujobs” bailout may have no readily discernible impact on Colorado schools, despite the projections made by Bennet.

The Bennet campaign released a snippet of video it recorded from the speech, with Bennet addressing rural education:

A Denver Post fact check of the following ad from Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS concluded that the numbers add up to billions per day (whether or not the spending is a good idea):

Claim: “Since his appointment, Michael Bennet has voted to spend an average of $2.5 billion every day.”

Crossroads GPS television ad

Facts: Michael Bennet has, in fact, voted for legislation that if you add it all up and divide by the days he’s been in office, comes out to nearly $2.5 billion a day. […]

Add all that up and it comes to $1.36 tillion.[sic] Divide by 568 (the days between Bennet’s Jan. 22, 2009 swearing-in and the Friday before the ad ran), and that’s $2.4 billion.

Vince Carroll of the Denver Post views Bennet’s campaign rhetoric as incompatible with his actual record:

Bennet, you may have noticed, is campaigning as a fiscal hawk. According to a recent report in this newspaper, the Colorado senator touts deficit reduction at town hall meetings as vital to the nation’s health.

To emphasize his seriousness, Bennet has sponsored the Deficit Reduction Act, which would cap the federal deficit at 3 percent of GDP after 2012 (when it would be capped at 4 percent), and supports a commission that will recommend a federal debt-reduction plan. Bennet also voted for “pay-as-you-go” rules that require offsetting revenue for any tax cuts or spending hikes.

If you’re partial to stern warnings about the growing national debt and grand schemes for shrinking it, Bennet is your man. But be sure to avert your eyes from his actual record.

Pay no attention to the contrast between Bennet’s green-eye-shade rhetoric and his drunken-sailor votes. Rest assured that 18 months of supporting one lavish spending and bailout bill after another provide no hint whatsoever of Bennet’s core fiscal philosophy.


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