Thursday, June 28, 2012

10 Inconvenient Truths About the Debt Ceiling


    By Jon Perr

Bolstered by new polls and fresh off their vote to bar an increase in the nation's $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, House Republicans swaggered into the White House Wednesday for the latest negotiation to end their economic hostage taking.

One, Rep. Jeff Landry of Louisiana, refused to attend and be "lectured to by a president whose failed policies have put our children and grandchildren in a huge burden of debt."

Sadly for Rep. Landry, the nation's mounting debt is largely attributable to wars, a recession and tax policies President Obama inherited from his predecessor.

Worse still, the Ryan 2012 budget proposal backed by almost every Republican in both houses of Congress would not only drain another $4 trillion in tax revenue from the Treasury, but fail all of the spending and balanced budget targets they themselves propose.

Nevertheless, Republicans who voted seven times to double the debt ceiling under George W. Bush would risk the national economic suicide they admit would come to pass if their demands are not met.

Here, then, are 10 Inconvenient Truths About the Debt Ceiling:

1. Republican Leaders Agree U.S. Default Would Be a "Financial Disaster"
2. Ronald Reagan Tripled the National Debt
3. George W. Bush Doubled the National Debt
4. Republicans Voted Seven Times to Raise Debt Ceiling for President Bush
5. Federal Taxes Are Now at a 60 Year Low
6. Bush Tax Cuts Didn't Pay for Themselves or Spur "Job Creators"
7. Ryan Budget Delivers Another Tax Cut Windfall for Wealthy
8. Ryan Budget Will Require Raising Debt Ceiling - Repeatedly
9. Tax Cuts Drive the Next Decade of Debt
10. $3 Trillion Tab for Unfunded Wars Remains Unpaid

(Click a link to jump to the data and details for each.)

In May, the National Journal estimated that the total cost to the U.S. economy of the war against Al Qaeda will reach $3 trillion. In 2008, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz put the price of the Iraq conflict alone at $3 trillion.

But by 2020 and beyond, the direct cost to U.S. taxpayers could reach $3 trillion. In March, the Congressional Research Service put the total cost of the wars at $1.28 trillion, including $806 billion for Iraq and $444 billion for Afghanistan. For the 2012 fiscal year which begins on October 1, President Obama asked for $117 billion more. (That war-fighting funding is over and above Secretary Gates' $553 billion Pentagon budget request for next year.)

(This piece also appears at Perrspectives.)

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