John Boehner has done it again, defending the Republican budget by making a Bartonian foray into speculative fiction. Completely bypassing reality, he held a press conference yesterday in which he asserted that,
For 53 of the last 60 years, the federal government has spent more than it has taken in – 53 of the last 60 years. It’s unacceptable.
To this day, now in his seventh year in office, the president has never proposed a budget that balances. Our budget will balance, but it’s also about growing our economy, growing jobs and building economic strength for our future.
* Note: For the record, the seven years of surpluses alluded to by Boehner are Eisenhower (2), Nixon (1), and Clinton (4).
So far so good. We mostly have deficits, not surpluses. But Boehner makes several claims that are not backed up by the facts. First a little background (inflation adjusted figures from the White House Office of Management and Budget):
- The United States had budget deficits from 1970 through 1997;
- This period includes deficits under Republicans presidents: 5 out of 6 years of the Nixon presidency, the entire Gerald R. Ford presidency, every year of both terms of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, and George H.W. Bush’s entire four year term in office;
- In 1998, under President Bill Clinton, the United States experienced a surplus of +100.58 billion;
- With Clinton still as president, this was followed by surpluses in 1999, 2000, and 2001 (+178.41, +325.17, +170.19 billion);
- With Republican George W. Bush in office, the United States experienced a budget deficit in 2002 and every year of his presidency that followed;
- In 2008, Bush followed his tax breaks and expensive wars by destroying the American economy, and that of the world;
- From 2009 till 2012 the U.S. had large deficits as a direct consequence of the 2008 Crash;
- In 2013, the deficit was half of what it was in 2012 (-691.06 vs. -1134.02 billion);
- In September 2014, Obama truthfully points out he has cut the deficit by more than half;
- In October 2014, the Treasury Department and Office of Management and Budget announced that the 2014 deficit as a percentage of GDP has reached its smallest point since 2007 at $483 billion, which also happens to be below the average deficit of the last 40 years.
- In 2014, the deficit was -492 billion, almost a third of 2012’s deficit;
- In February 2015, Obama told Republicans, truthfully as can be seen, “Since I took office, we’ve cut the deficit by about two-thirds.”
Boehner does not explain why, after all this time, a balanced budget is so essential, or explain how only a Democrat was able to achieve one since Nixon’s single surplus in 1969, or how George W. Bush’s destruction of the economy in 2008 put Obama in the position of having to bail out the economy to save us from a fate worse than 1929. It’s easier just to pretend Bush never existed, isn’t it?
We have already seen President Obama tear up the Republican budget in a brutal 60-seconds. But on top of this, and countering Boehner’s claims, we have The White House Fact Sheet On The House Republican Budget, which proves that the Republican budget is not about growth at all, but about enriching the wealthy on the backs of the middle class:
The proposals they specify would cut the tax bill of the average millionaire by more than $50,000, before even adding the proposed cuts to tax rates. Meanwhile, the House Republican budget does nothing to prevent a tax increase on 26 million working families and students.
Boehner is, to the surprise of nobody, flat-out lying. Again.
It is a fact – albeit an unwelcome fact to many – that the economy grows more under Democratic presidents. The history of the United States of the past 50 years proves it.
It is difficult to keep up with the Republican world of made-up facts, which we experience as endless talking-points (they can throw out these talking points faster than we can refute them).
On any given day I will be called a Marxist or Communist or, hilariously, I think, a “party drone” because I provide carefully cited and supported facts, while they provide dogmatic assertions which must be true because they believe them to be true, because ideologically, they must be true.
Who, then, is the real party drone?
We Democrats will be told that the United States is in trouble because of a misplaced faith in Keynesian economics. If we point out that austerity does not work, and provide, again, evidence to back this assertion up, we get things like (as I did the other day) the unsupported assurance (based on Republican talking points) that “austerity works if you do it right.”
More dogma. No facts. Just: If it’s not working, it’s just because nobody is doing it right. Gotcha.
Our economy is being destroyed, I was assured the other day, because of a “weak dollar and high taxes.” I pointed out in response that our taxes in this country is are very low among advanced nations, and that the dollar is actually doing well.
The response to that is typically, “I don’t place any faith in the GDP.”
I will point out that unemployment is dropping, pay is increasing, the deficit is dropping, that in March we hit 48 straight months of job growth, and that as of December 2014 we were seeing the fastest GDP growth in a decade.
By every recognizable standard, the economy has improved under President Barack Obama. Each and every year it has gotten better. We are not back to where we were before Bush, but we are getting there.
The question naturally arises, what do you place faith in besides unsupported dogmatic assertions? You cannot simply disregard any facts you don’t like, solely on the basis that they don’t meet up with your preconceptions, and even pretend you are debating facts.
This avoidance of facts is a disease that extends from the very top of Republican party leadership all the way down to the rank and file, and all along that path there is a great reliance on what must be true based on ideological dogma. And that, as you can see here (Republicans won’t see it, trust me) is what John Boehner is selling each and every day. Not facts, but dogma.
Unfortunately for Republicans – and the rest of us – you can’t run a country based on what you want to be true. If you do, you end up in 2008 again. And that is where Boehner insists on taking us.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.