He also states, “Democrats are willing to do whatever is necessary to raise the debt ceiling, not for future borrowing but to pay the debts that we racked up in the past. Which, mostly was racked up by a Republican House, a Republican Senate and a Republican President in the last 8 years.”
First, not true. The debt’s growth has accelerated greatly in the past two years (and is likely to continue this year).
According to U.S. Treasury figures at Debt to the Penny, on January 20, 1993, as Bill Clinton took office, the total outstanding public debt was $4.1 trillion. On January 19, 2001, that same figure had increased to $5.7 trillion.
As I’ve noted before, the debt during Bush’s eight years in office increased from $5.7 trillion to $10.6 trillion, or $4.9 trillion over eight years. That’s bad; that’s basically $610 billion per year. But in the less than three years Obama has been in office, the debt has increased from $10.6 trillion to $14.2 trillion, a $3.6 trillion increase in about 27 months. In other words, Obama is increasing the debt by $1.6 trillion per year, three times as fast as Bush.
Updating my numbers, under Obama total debt has increased from $10.6 trillion to $14.3 trillion, a $3.7 trillion increase over 30 months. (The figure has actually gone down a bit in recent days, shrinking by $11 million from July 18 to July 19. Hooray for emergency measures enacted to avoid hitting the debt ceiling!) The average annual deficit increase under Obama is down to a mere $1.48 trillion per year, now only two-and-a-half times as fast as Bush.
Second, look closely at his comment. The “last eight years” begins in July 2003. Republicans have controlled Congress for roughly three and a half of those eight years (the latter half of 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006. And remember that Democrats controlled the Senate from mid-2001 to January 2003).
What this tells us is that Harkin has gotten so used to complaining about “the past eight years” that he doesn’t realize that it’s not 2008 or 2009 anymore. Like Obama signing the year 2008 in 2011, Harkin’s worldview is forever preserved in amber in the moment of Obama’s accession, where everything can be blamed on Pres. George W. Bush and a Republican Congress.