The Republicans and the Public Debt
This post is written during the 2012 US presidential election campaign, in response to some factually accurate but politically misleading slogans from the Republican party, such as "The national debt is now higher than it has ever been!", or "Our national credit was downgraded under Obama!", which are being given as reasons for voting for Mitt Romney instead of Barack Obama.
The higher-than-predicted public debt since 2001 includes $1.6 trillion of Bush tax cuts, $3.1 trillion for warfare, and $0.9 trillion in stimulus and tax cuts under Obama - but this latter is the issue over which Republicans are apoplectic. In congress, Republicans were insistent that the debt ceiling, raised seven times under Bush, could not be raised under Obama, even if it meant threatening default to our domestic and foreign creditors.
Bickering in front of the bailiffs does not demonstrate economic competence, however worried you claim to be. This has never happened before: to have a party in Congress willing to ruin the country's credit, so long as it has a chance of ruining the administration. And then to say "aha, the past four years demonstrate that we should be running the whole country" - this makes me less likely than ever to vote for Republicans. They have behaved recklessly and are now assuming that I, the voter, am forgetful, unable to compare their present with their past actions, and only able to remember this week's sound-bytes.
The silliest spectacle was perhaps Michelle Bachmann being incensed about the currency going down some 11% compared to foreign exchanges under Obama (largely during the aforementioned debt crisis). What about the years from 2002-2004 (obviously, the years of the Iraq war), when the US currency went down some 40% against the Euro? Did she speak out then? No. Devaluing the currency to pay for wars abroad is apparently quite acceptable: devaluing it by less than a third as much to pay for infrastructure at home is apparently a disaster.
Yes, I'm worried about government debt, but I was worried about it for years before there was a non-white guy in the White House. The recent Republican concern over debt, having raised it so much under Bush, does not convince me that the Republican cares about it: it convinces me that the Republican party is full of anger and hypocrisy, and not fit to govern. Still the Republicans do not explain why they thought raising the debt ceiling under Bush for foreign wars was patriotic, but raising it any further for domestic spending during a recession is devastating and immoral.
At the end of this analysis: yes, the numbers and the economics do matter, but it's not a case of "Republican numbers vs Democrat values". Our current economic and fiscal state comes directly from our choice of values, compounded over 10 years of unbudgeted interest. On moral values: I'll not vote for a party run by men who say that a pregnant rape victim has to bear a child, when there are alternatives. But even without that, if I was just thinking about the economy: I've lived in the USA for 12 years now, and from the Republican party I've seen only a bad set of moral values leading to a bad set of economic decisions and a bad case of foaming-at-the-mouth to cover up the numbers. When you're logically and morally inconsistent, the numbers have a habit of not adding up.