Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
At the height of World War II, government deficit spending as a percentage of GDP far exceeded 100%. That would be the federal stimulus spending on infrastructure and the restoration of America's industrial capacity to full production as we converted our economy into the arsenal of freedom that won the war – and ended the Great Depression. Keynesian economics worked.
Since the end of World War II, the national debt as a percentage of GDP steadily declined until 1981 – when movement conservatism and Saint Ronnie Reagan returned to the failed laissez faire economic policies of Herbert Hoover and manufactured the myth of Republican fiscal responsibility.
H/T to Jon Perr at Crooks&Liars blog Obama's Summit and the Myth of Republican Fiscal Responsibility who observes that "Far from the deficit hawks of Republican legend, the modern Republican Party from Reagan forward devastated the U.S. treasury, leaving mounting debt and hemorrhaging red ink for as far as the eye can see."
"As the chart above shows, the national debt under president Reagan, Bush 41 and Bush 43 exploded as a percentage of GDP, interrupted only by the all-too-brief fiscal sanity of the Clinton years. And to be sure, the budget surpluses of the late 1990's seem like a distant memory."
[T]he Republicans' fiscal rot didn't begin with George W. Bush, but with Ronald Reagan. It was the legendary Gipper whose financial recklessness and tax-cutting fetish came to define the modern GOP.
The numbers tell the story. As predicted, Reagan's massive $749 billion supply-side tax cuts in 1981 quickly produced even more massive annual budget deficits. Combined with his rapid increase in defense spending, Reagan delivered not the balanced budgets he promised, but record-settings deficits. Even his OMB alchemist David Stockman could not obscure the disaster with his famous "rosy scenarios."
Forced to raise taxes twice to avert financial catastrophe (a fact conveniently forgotten in the conservative hagiography of Reagan), the Gipper nonetheless presided over a doubling of the American national debt. By the time he left office in 1989, Ronald Reagan equaled the entire debt burden produced by the previous 200 years of American history.
For his part, George H.W. Bush hardly stemmed the flow of red ink. And when Bush the Elder broke his "read my lips, no new taxes" pledge to address the cascading budget shortfalls, his own Republican Party turned on him. While Bush's apostasy helped ensure his defeat by Bill Clinton, it was Clinton's 1993 deficit-cutting package (passed without a single GOP vote in either house of Congress) which helped usher in the surpluses of the late 1990's.
Alas, they were to be short-lived. Inheriting a federal budget in the black and CBO forecast for a $5.6 trillion surplus over 10 years, President George W. Bush quickly set about dismantling the progress made under Clinton. Bush's $1.4 trillion tax cut in 2001, followed by a second round in 2003, accounted for the bulk of the yawning budget deficits he produced.
Like Reagan and Stockman before him, Bush resorted to the rosy scenario to claim he would halve the budget deficit by 2009. Before the financial system meltdown last fall, Bush's deficit already reached $490 billion. (And even before the passage of the Wall Street bailout, Bush had presided over a $4 trillion increase in the national debt, a staggering 71% jump.) By this January, the mind-numbing deficit figure reached $1.2 trillion, forcing President Bush to raise the debt ceiling to $11.3 trillion.
"And so it goes. The Republican Party of No decries President Obama's deficit spending urgently needed to rescue the country from the economic cataclysm over which they presided… [and] the endless sea of red ink they themselves produced."
The GOP should just sit down, shut the hell up, and come along for the ride as people who actually know what they are doing do their best to rescue our economy from the GOP's failed economic ideology and hubris.