Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is out with a new video explaining the implications of the $15 trillion debt we have now racked up:
Not surprisingly, the Republicans are having a field day with facts and figures to highlight their argument that President Obama has presided over a fiscal train wreck. Don Stewart, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s communications director, sent out a handy guide to the debt history:
$8.67 trillion: Democrats take control of Congress, January 2007
$10.62 trillion: President Obama’s Inaugural, January 20, 2009
$10.789 trillion: Stimulus bill signed into law, February 17, 2009
$12.351 trillion: President’s weekly address on the merits of “pay as you go,” February 13, 2010
$14.305 trillion: President’s weekly address where he said “I believe we can live within our means,” April 16, 2011
Likewise, Republican presidential contender Texas Gov. Rick Perry blasted away: “Today, the federal debt hit a depressing $15 trillion. This astounding debt is a heavy pair of cement shoes for our children and America’s economic future. Now more than ever, America needs leadership committed to overhauling Washington.”He then touted his latest plan for “a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, a ban on earmarks, real spending and tax relief, and a part-time Congress to bring fiscal conservatism and responsibility back to our nation’s capital.”
Certainly, the milestone debt level is problematic for the president and red-state senators (who haven’t been able to pass a budget in two years) up for reelection in 2012. However, the $15 trillion mark also focuses attention on the supercommittee, which, from all appearances, seems far from a deal. The blame game, if the supercommittee fails, will then restart.
Republicans, wary of being on the losing end in that bit of political gamesmanship, are making the case that they have an offer on the table to which the Democrats have not responded. They point to the plan put forth last week by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) that included tax reform estimated to generate $300 billion in revenue.
A senior Republican Senate adviser told me yesterday, “We made them an offer nine days ago. The Dems haven’t moved. Nothing serious on entitlement reform from them. And they want hundreds of billions in stimulus spending and a trillion in tax hikes.” That doesn’t sound too promising. And while it is true that Toomey’s was the last offer on the table, supercommittee member Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) went out of his way to assure Democrats that he and his fellow Republicans were still ready to bargain.
The downside for Obama, of course, is that he’ll be facing a GOP opponent in 2012 who had no part in running up the debt. That candidate will have a comprehensive debt-reduction plan and plenty of criticism for the entire Beltway gang. Obama will try mightily to pass the buck, but the American people are likely to hold the president responsible for the state of the economy, including the mound of debt that casts a dark shadow over Americans’ future.