Karl Rove Suddenly Discovers That The National Debt Is A Problem

After working for nearly eight years for a President who saw the National debt go from $5,727,776,738,304.64 to $10,626,877,048,913.08 (source), Karl Rove has suddenly discovered that the National Debt is a problem:

For Karl Rove, now the debt’s a problem.

Crossroads GPS, the nonprofit co-founded by the former Bush White House political adviser that keeps its donors secret, announced today that it  will spend $7 million attacking President Barack Obama for failing to tackle the growing national debt.

Against a backdrop of a ticking stopwatch, a narrator warns that Obama is adding $4 billion in new debt every day.

Rove, of course, experienced first-hand a sharp increase in the national debt. The day his former boss, George W. Bush, was sworn in as president in 2001, the national debt was $5.7 trillion. When Bush (and Rove) left the White House, the debt had grown to $10.6 trillion, an 86 percent increase, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.

(…)

Now the deficit matters to Rove and Crossroads.

“While Europe is in the throes of debt-fueled economic crisis, President Obama keeps spending and charging more on the nation’s maxed-out credit cards,” said Steven Law, president of Crossroads GPS.

Karl, were you asleep between 2001 and 2009? Rove isn’t alone, of course, with but a few exceptions, Republicans completely ignored the irresponsible fiscal policies of the Bush years. Which is why it’s so hard for those of us who were complaining back then to believe them now.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Deficit and Debt, Quick Takes, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. mattb says:

    Doug,

    Boy do you have your history wrong.

    As we have been told numerous times, Real Conservatives(TM) were always concerned about the deficit.

    And we all remember how the Tea Party rose to power under Bush actively protesting out of control spending, costly wars, and no so well thought out temporary… mean permanent without making them permanent tax cuts.

    I mean it wasn’t like the Tea Party suddenly came out of no where the moment a Democrat took over the White House.

    I vividly remember them dressing up and protesting in the streets throughout the Aughts, loudly attacking the current administrations budgets as reckless and un-American in various right wing media outlets. Don’t you?

    I mean to think that True Conservatives(TM) would ever stand for that sort of spending. That’s why they all voted against run away spending in the elections of 2002 and 2004 — sending a firm message to the Republicans in Washington that they better change their ways.

    Of course they didn’t bother to show up for the 2006 and 2008 elections, because… well they were planning to have even bigger protests regardless of who ever got into office — because you know, both sides run up big deficits.

    I can’t believe that you would ever suggest that True Conservatives(TM) would have ignored the issue of the deficit while they’re folks were in power. I mean no True Conservative(TM) would ever have been accused (by a member of his own team) of having said something like “Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter.”

    After all, all True Conservatives(TM) know that deficits make the baby Reagan cry.

    Oh… and don’t forget that’s also true of Compromise and Socialists — Always remember that Deficits, Compromise, and Socialists make the baby Reagan cry.

  2. al-Ameda says:

    Cheney: “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.”

  3. legion says:

    And yet every single Republican candidate for office, from the Presidency on down, staunchly promises to more of exactly the same things GWB did. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – anyone who votes Republican and calls themselves “fiscally conservative” is either a crook or a gullible moron.

  4. al-Ameda says:

    As Paul Ryan’s budget proposal proved, Republicans are NOT serious about the deficit. What they ARE serious about is their ideology.

    They see the deficit as a real opportunity to finally roll back significant portions of the social safety net – begin to privatize Medicare, reduce Medicaid, and perhaps get alternative private retirement accounts in the Social Security system – all of this without reducing the deficit.

    This is all about ideology, and has nothing to do with fiscal principles.

  5. mattb says:

    @al-Ameda:

    They see the deficit as a real opportunity to finally roll back significant portions of the social safety net – begin to privatize Medicare, reduce Medicaid, and perhaps get alternative private retirement accounts in the Social Security system – all of this without reducing the deficit.

    You are so wrong. You know as well as I that it’s only Evil Godless Liberuls(TM) that believe “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste …”

    Repeat after me:
    Deficits, Compromise, Socialists, and Taking Advantage of Crises make the baby Reagan cry.

  6. @al-Ameda:

    Where is the serious Democratic plan? And why did the President respond to Simpson-Bowles by not only throwing their report in the trash but pouring gasoline on it and lighting it on fire?

    None of them are serious, we’re the one’s who are the suckers.

  7. al-Ameda says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    Where is the Democratic Plan? There is none. Democrats are completely cowed by the conservative right, and are hiding under their desks in a duck-and-cover position until the November elections and the nuclear winter is over. It is pathetic.

    But I digress. Do you disagree with my assessment of the Republican Plan?

  8. Scott says:

    I was waiting for the Republicans to roll back the unfunded Medicare Part D that they enacted during the Bush years. Because they were so concerned about the deficit.

  9. al-Ameda,

    I am more of a fan of the Bowles-Simpson approach than Ryan’s plan, mostly because I don’t think Ryan’s plan is politically realistic and because the Bowles-Simpson plan recognizes that taxes have to be part of a long-term plan.

    On another note isn’t Alameda where the nuclear wessals are? 😀

  10. al-Ameda says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    in a related matter, I believe that tactically, Obama should have accepted Simpson-Bowles as the starting point. I think he made a mistake there.

    I do find it noteworthy that Paul Ryan served on the Simpson-Bowles Commission and he voted against the final Commission proposal. He said that it did not do enough to reduce the deficit, but it seems that was just cover for his real goals which are in his current budget proposal – cut the safety net while cutting taxes, and not reducing the deficit at all.

  11. Ron Beasley says:

    If the Republicans retain the House and take the Senate and the White House deficits won’t matter once again.

  12. john personna says:

    I thought I was one of the few who backed Simpson-Bolwes in real time. Is this new religion for some?

  13. al-Ameda says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    On another note isn’t Alameda where the nuclear wessals are? 😀

    hahaha … right across the bay from San Francisco, and the hometown of Willie Stargell, Jimmy Rollins and Dontrelle Willis.

  14. c.red says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Where is the serious Democratic plan?

    You mean this one brought up in the Senate in March and promptly killed?
    Senate Democratic Budget Plan

    Or what about, which granted were more intentions than plans, Obama’s
    “Grand Bargain” or the Super Committee proposals that all got rejected? Republicans have not shown any interest in serious deficit reduction in at least … well ever – that I can remember.

  15. @c.red:

    You mean that joke of a plan? Why are the Democrats so afraid of Simpson-Bowles?

  16. @al-Ameda:

    Obama gave up a football field worth of ground when he abandoned Simpson-Bowles, IMO.

  17. Ben Wolf says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Because Simpson-Bowles would put the country into a full-blown depression. It has no logic in it other than “Cutz-R-Good”.

  18. al-Ameda says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Obama gave up a football field worth of ground when he abandoned Simpson-Bowles

    Tactically it was a really big mistake. I mean, perhaps we would have ended up in the same place with the same crappy politics but at least there would not have been the perception that the end game is just to wait Republicans out.

    Obama does not control the debate, the whack jobs do, and that’s his fault.

  19. c.red says:

    The joke of a democratic plan seems like as good a starting point at Simpson-Bowles and far, far better than Ryan’s ‘Back to the good old Fourteenth Century’ plan.

  20. Ben Wolf says:

    There’s a serious lack of knowledge regarding how a modern monetary system functions evident when people talk about eliminating deficits. The private sector prefers to net save in order to increase its financial wealth. The result is that a capitalist economy left to its own devices will always trend toward sluggish growth, high unemployment and recession because the money supply is continually drained. The only way to counter this is for government to spend sufficient net financial assets into the private sector to satisfy the desire to net save.

    It cannot be any other way. We can argue about how government spends, but it must spend more than it collects to sustain economic health.

  21. LC says:

    Meanwhile, on the planet the rest of us live on, the Simpson-Bowles commission could not even approve its own plan. I mean, it’s literally called the “Simpson-Bowles Plan”, NOT the “Simpson-Bowles Commission Plan”. How does this go unmentioned every time you write about it, Doug?

  22. André Kenji de Sousa says:

    Controlling deficits requires doing things that voters do not like, like increasing taxes(Look at Mondale, G. H. Bush and the Democratic Congress of 1993) and cutting entitlements. Today politicians are demagogues and cowards, so, that´s it.

  23. André Kenji de Sousa says:

    I do agree with Jonathan Bernstein that the Paul Ryan´s budget is not serious because it would require cutting EVERYTHING that the federal government does other than Medicare, SS and defense.

    But, on the other hand, that shows that it´s very difficult to cut the deficit without increasing taxes. The reality is that taxes are going to have to be increased and spending – specially Medicare – is going to have to be cut. And hiding behind Keynes(What both Republicans and Democrats do) is not going to work.

  24. Ben Wolf says:

    @André Kenji de Sousa:

    The reality is that taxes are going to have to be increased . . .

    No.

    . . .spending – specially Medicare – is going to have to be cut.

    No.

    And hiding behind Keynes(What both Republicans and Democrats do) is not going to work.

    No. Other than that you got everything right.

  25. al-Ameda says:

    @André Kenji de Sousa:
    There is no evidence that austerity programs have ever caused economic recovery and economic growth. A reduction in aggregate demand will not cause economic growth.

  26. Ron Beasley says:

    @al-Ameda: It’s kinda like there is no evidence that supply side economics is any thing but a bad joke. It’s demand that drives an economy not tax cuts for the so called” job creators”. It’s consumers that create jobs and if they don’t have enough money to consume no jobs will be created.

  27. André Kenji de Sousa says:

    There is no evidence that austerity programs have ever caused economic recovery and economic growth.

    That´s not the point. The point is that the debt one day becomes so big, sooner or later, that servicing the debt becomes crippling expensive and that lenders requires astronomical interest rates to lend money. Then austerity programs are necessary to reinstate credibility among debtors. Almost all austerity programs are enacted to reinstate credibility among debtors, not to cause growth.

    In fact, it would be easy to control the deficit in the United States with some tax increases and cuts to spending(Medicare should be more like the others Public Healthcare systems in the world), and no austerity required.

    But, you know, politicians promised all the candy in the world.

  28. WR says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Because they don’t want to wipe out social security and Medicare.

  29. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @André Kenji de Sousa: There is a problem with your theory here, conventional wisdom not withstanding. A recent article I read noted that the largest holder of Federal debt is the US Treasury at $8 trillion (!!!). If that is so, (and I am not using the article for evidence as my ability to post links is very limited) then Galbraith was right in the 60s–the debt doesn’t matter because it isn’t owed to anyone. Moreover, the only way to “pay off” that portion of the debt is to collect 8 trillion in taxes without spending it–essentially, removing 8 trillion from the money supply. (The article in question went on to assert that this percentage of the debt has been held by the Treasury since at least the Reagan era.)

    I suppose that you are correct about the cost of debt service, but if 60% of the debt is held by an entity that can’t actually collect interest from itself (and won’t pull itself into bankruptcy if it isn’t paid), the service on the debt is only one third of what we think it is. Hyperinflation is a greater potential problem in our situation, but that doesn’t seem to be on the horizon and the bankers running the casino are not likely to permit such inflation because it won’t make them richer. If it starts to, buy a wheel barrow to carry around your money.

  30. jukeboxgrad says:

    Always remember that Deficits, Compromise, and Socialists make the baby Reagan cry.

    This is a good moment to remember that Reagan tripled the debt.

    I was waiting for the Republicans to roll back the unfunded Medicare Part D that they enacted during the Bush years.

    This is a good moment to remember that the GOP is packed with people who became born-again deficit hawks on 1/20/09, after napping for thirty years. In particular, some of our finest born-again deficit hawks voted for Medicare Part D, even though it “added $15.5 trillion (in present value terms) to our nation’s indebtedness.” This group includes Boehner, Cantor, and Ryan. More proof that the GOP runs on amnesia.

  31. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Indeed, as already mentioned here, the hypocrisy by Rove with a capital H is Medicare D. To have enacted a federal healthcare boondoggle at a time of heavy war spending and existing fiscal strains was beyond the pale. I think we do have to give credit to the scores upon scores of Republicans in Congress who voted against that monstrosity, but the bottom line is that it was pimped by Bush & Rove and it passed a GOP Congress.

    Regarding the national debt, the twin elephants in the room of course are Social Security and Medicare and the fact they’re off budget items makes the ticking time problem worse. We can beat our heads against the deficit wall all day long, but without fundamental entitlement reform we’ll still headed off the fiscal cliff. We seriously need to raise the minimum eligibility ages for those under 55. We need to expand the HSA program. We need to let people opt out of Uncle Sugar with private accounts for Social Security retirement benefits.

    As for the federal budget deficit, certainly it’s possible to get it back in line without raising taxes. State governments for decades have done that at the micro level. Juxtapose the same concepts to the federal level and they would work equally as well. Cut spending. Eliminate tax loopholes while simultaneously giving targeting tax relief. Grow the economy with that targeted tax relief and with regulatory reforms too. Continue cutting spending. It’s not rocket science.

  32. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Oops, “we’re still headed off the fiscal cliff,” that is.

  33. Martin Wolf, at the Financial Times, gives us this paragraph:

    Before now, I had never really understood how the 1930s could happen. Now I do. All one needs are fragile economies, a rigid monetary regime, intense debate over what must be done, widespread belief that suffering is good, myopic politicians, an inability to co-operate and failure to stay ahead of events. Perhaps the panic will vanish. But investors who are buying bonds at current rates are indicating a deep aversion to the downside risks. Policy makers must eliminate this panic, not stoke it.

    Google “Panic has become all too rational” for the full article.

    The words I’d emphasize are “widespread belief that suffering is good.”

    Doug and those on the right have seen the graphs of declining government spending, in face of recession … and still fault Obama for spending too much.

  34. Related: Austerity has never worked

    It’s not just about the current economic environment. History shows that slashing budgets always leads to recession

  35. Andre Kenji says:

    Moreover, the only way to “pay off” that portion of the debt is to collect 8 trillion in taxes without spending it–essentially, removing 8 trillion from the money supply.

    No one is talking about paying off the debt, but controlling it, like reducing the deficit to something like 3% or 5% of the GDP.

  36. Andre Kenji says:

    Austerity has never worked

    “It’s not just about the current economic environment. History shows that slashing budgets always leads to recession“

    1-) Well, the sad part is that sometimes recessions are necessary to make macroeconomic arrangements.

    2-) You can´t expect the Treasury, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Brazilians and other people to keep buying debt forever.

    3-) Again: the point is not growth, the point is averting a catastrophe.

  37. Andre Kenji says:

    Besides that, the point is that the United States is becoming a high debt country, like Italy or Brazil. That could mean high interest rates and that´s going to mean a lot of money in each budget to service the debt. And frankly, that´s a point of no return, where paying off the debt becomes impossible.

  38. Matt says:

    @Andre Kenji: The USA is NOTHING like Brasil or Italy….

  39. André Kenji de Sousa says:

    The USA is NOTHING like Brasil or Italy….

    1-) I did not say that these three countries are similar.

    2-) Brazil is the only large country with a population bigger than 200 million people in the Western Hemisphere. It´s ignorance to say that these countries have nothing to do with each other(In fact, the healhcare system in Brazil provides a good model for the uS. At least, it´s better than Obamacare).