The Republican sense of entitlement, when reviewed as a whole, raises the question, are there no bounds to Republican hypocrisy! The question is rhetorical, and the answer for those who do not know the answer is no! Among their favorite criticisms of Democrats is that they are “tax and spend” liberals. That’s an argument for which they have no substantive support in light of their record on spending, and which just may be a red herring intended to distract people from another hypocrisy in their long list of hypocrisies as well.
The Republican modus operandi has in fact been one of borrow and spend that has left the nation with the largest debt in its history. While the Republicans continue to blame President Obama for the size of the national debt, despite all evidence to the contrary, the fact remains that not only was the overwhelming bulk of the debt accrued under their hegemony in Congress and President George W. Bush’s term in office over the past decade, but continues to mount primarily consequent to Republican obstruction of every measure initiated by the Democrats and President Obama to address the issue.
By the end of the fiscal year in Bush’s last term in office, he and the Republican Congress had managed to nearly double the national debt, from a base line of $5.8 trillion to $10.0 trillion by the end of fiscal year 2008. To fully understand who owns responsibility for the debt, it is first important to understand that the base line debt was the residual accrued during the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations. Thereafter, nearly 80 percent of the debt after the end of fiscal year 2008 was accrued consequent to their policies and the aftermath of George W. Bush’s policies.
Every budget expenditure from paying for unfunded programs like Medicare Part C, the government expansion to augment heightened national security after 9/11, 2001, two wars, the Bush Wall Street bailout, other bailouts and emergency relief measures, increases in the welfare rolls, payroll tax breaks, everything, including Obama’s bailout of GM and Chrysler and his stimulus, is directly attributable to the economic collapse following the failure of the Republican and Bush era policies. By any reasonable assessment, the debt that continued to mount under Obama’s term in office was directly consequent to attempts to address the economic issues facing the US in a responsible manner.
In the interim, Republicans have not over the past four years shown any credibility to their claim of fiscal responsibility, and steadfastly adhered to their policy of obstructing any tax increase that may begin addressing the national debt. While focusing entirely on draconian austerity measures that will throw the nation deeper into recession, they have time and again demonstrated their lack of fiscal responsibility on the questions of taxation and the national debt.
Adding insult to injury, in 2008, Congress voted themselves a $4,700 pay raise as they watched the economy crumble around them to top off the $37,300 in pay increases they had voted for themselves since 1999. The 34 Democrats who sponsored a resolution to stop the increase until new minimum wage legislation was passed saw their bill die in committee. This relatively minor expenditure perhaps more clearly demonstrates their sense of entitlement. The pay raise provided them a sweet 21.4 percent increase during a time when they were implementing tax reductions and pushing for spending cuts, thus effectively paying themselves with borrowed money. Over that same period, average income in the US [XLS – 45k] rose by just under 18.4 percent. Effectively then, Congressional pay rose at a rate of 20.4 percent more than the average household income. While average incomes fell for each quintile from 2008 to 2010 by 9.6 percent, Congress still enjoys the 2.8 percent increase they voted for themselves in 2008. Moreover, their 2008 increase to their income comes to .5 percent more than the 2.3 percent COLA they allowed for Social Security recipients in the same year.
Mr. Ryan, Mr. Boehner, Mr. McConnell, spare us your hypocrisy over the issue of a 3 percent tax increase on the incomes of millionaires while our national debt spirals upward. Spare us your hypocrisy over closing tax loopholes that allowed 30 corporations with multi-billion dollar profits to escape paying taxes altogether last year while our national debt spirals upward. Spare us your hypocrisy over the size and pay level of the federal workforce, while raising your salaries and freezing theirs simultaneously. Spare us your hypocrisy over the issue of national debt while insisting on balancing the budget on the backs of the working poor, and through draconian measures to privatize Social Security and Medicare, thus putting our societal safety nets at risk in the hands of deregulated investment firms that cannot guarantee the safety of funds in the best of times.
While you are at it, spare us also your hypocrisy of accusations that Democrats are kicking the national debt can down the road, while you vote yourselves pay raises on borrowed money. You are living on money borrowed against our children’s future, and doing so without shame. Your hypocrisy about those who lived large on tax payer money, will not stand while you live large on borrowed money at taxpayer expense. Your hypocrisy is something we cannot endure while our national debt spirals upward!