Votes that pushed us into the red
In the debate over the nation's rising debt, rhetoric trumps reality. In January 2001, the U.S. budget was balanced for the first time in decades and the Congressional Budget Office was forecasting surpluses totaling $5.6 trillion by 2011. A decade later, the national debt is larger, as a percentage of the economy, than at any time in U.S. history except for the period shortly after World War II.
So what happened?
In classic Washington style, neither party wants to take responsibility. “Washington has a spending problem, not a revenue problem,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in April.
“Republicans made the contradictory promises that cutting taxes would lead to higher revenues and would force lower spending,” House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer shot back in a speech later the same month. “They did neither.”
The reality falls somewhere in between. In fact, 75 percent of the members currently serving in Congress voted for at least one — and in most cases more than one — of three policies that contributed to fully one-third of the $12.7 trillion swing from projected surpluses to real debt: President George W. Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, funding for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and President Obama's 2009 stimulus bill.
A new take on the overlapping priorities that led us to record deficits, and who voted for them.
Click here for a fascinating graphic that shows us, clearly, who got us where we are today.
Thanks, guys. Have you learned your lesson? If not, let's hope voters see fit to send you packing, next year.