Transcript: Thom Hartmann: The Big Picture: Republicans ran up the debt & now they don't want to pay the bill. 7 July '11
At his Twitter Townhall event yesterday - President Obama said THIS about Republicans threatening to force America into default:
Congress has a responsibility to make sure we pay our bills. We've always paid them in the past. The notion that the US is going to default on its debt is just irresponsible.
It's actually more than irresponsible, Mr. President...it's nearly criminal.
What our nation is faced with today is a mountain of debt run up mostly by 3 Republican Presidents - Ronald Reagan - and the two Bushes.
And now today - that very same Republican Party is saying "no way" to Democrats who just want to pay off that pile of Republican debt.
Think about it this way - the Republicans ran up a huge credit card bill, and now they're refusing to pay for it.
They took the good times - the stimulation to the economy from all that spending and the political benefits from all those wars - and now they don't even want to pay for it.
If you or I did that with our credit card - and did it intentionally - we'd be in jail.
That's why we are in debt...
Before Reagan took office - our national debt was just under one trillion dollars and our top tax rate was 74%.
But Reagan promised the nation good times - so he gave his rich buddies all tax cuts - and he then put $2 trillion on the nation's credit card.
Reagan borrowed and spent - in just 8 years - more money than every president of the United States from George Washington to Jimmy Carter - COMBINED.
And now the Republicans don't want to pay the bill for Reagan's debt.
Then George H.W. Bush came along. He kept running up the nation's credit card so that by the time he left office 4 years later - he added another one and a half trillion dollars to the debt, to the credit card bill, let's say.
And today the Republicans don't want to pay off Herbert Walker's debt, either.
That's two Republican Presidents in a row - blowing up our national debt from just under 1 trillion dollars - where it had been basically for all of American history - to over $4.3 trillion dollars in just 12 years.
Then Bill Clinton comes into office - raises taxes on the rich - and slowed down the growing national debt.
Even though Clinton tacked on another $1 trillion dollars to the debt by the time he left office in 2001 - he actually had our nation running a budget surplus and was poised to pay off our ENTIRE national debt in just ten years - by 2010 - last year.
So here we have 2 Republicans - Reagan and Bush running up a huge debt - and a Democrat - Bill Clinton figuring out a way to pay it off.
Then George W. Bush galloped into town. Like Reagan - Bush promised his billionaire funders and his family friends good times - so he cut taxes again for the rich.
And to give himself a shoo-in victory in 2004 - Bush started two wars.
And he paid for all of this stuff the same way Reagan and Herbert Bush had paid for it - by putting it on the national credit card.
It took Bush only one year to turn Bill Clinton's budget surplus into a budget deficit.
So...after 8 years in the White House - George W. Bush took the $5.7 trillion dollar debt that he had inherited mostly from Reagan and his dad - and turned it into a $10.4 trillion dollar heap of debt to hand over to President Obama - along with a nice little bonus gift of a Republican Great Depression.
In total - Bush added over $4.5 trillion dollars to the national debt.
And Republicans don't want to pay off Bush's credit card bill, either.
But while Bush was piling on the debt - Republicans in Congress had no problem raising the debt limit - the credit limit, basically - 7 different times.
In all - by the time President Obama took office in 2009 - Reaganomics had jacked our national debt by nearly 9 trillion dollars.
And nearly 8 trillion dollars of that debt was courtesy of 3 REPUBLICAN Presidents.
THIS is what this so-called debt-limit debate is all about.
This debate isn't about out-of-control spending - or "big government" under President Obama - it's about Republicans not wanting to pay the bills that their own guys ran up unless they get some goodies.
Imagine what would happen if you ran up a huge credit card bill and then called up Citibank and said, you know, I'm only going to pay it off if you gave me something I want?
How would the police take your offer to pay off your credit card bill ONLY if the bank, for example, sent you and a half a dozen friends on an all-expenses-paid trip to Disneyland? I think they'd throw your butt in jail.
But when Republicans ran up a $9 trillion debt - and now don't want to pay it unless they get their wish-list - the media doesn't even mention how it all came about.
This is a crime - and if Republicans REALLY are willing to crash the economy just to avoid paying off their own bills - and to get some political capital, to hurt president Obama politically - then they should be charged with financial fraud and thrown in prison - and certainly never allowed to handle the nation's finances again.
And those Democrats who are too timid to call this theft from all of us what it is - intentional fraud that actually even had a name - "starve the beast" was what Reagan called the strategy - those timid Democrats deserve whatever the voters give them.
That's The Big Picture.