The Republic of T.

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Not As They Do: Conservatives and the Deficit, Pt. 2

Sarah Palin’s keynote speech was quite a hit at this weekend’s Tea Party convention. She even took a shot at pinning responsibility for the deficit on the Obama administration.

“The Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda will leave us less secure, more in debt and under the thumb of big government,” she added, saying voters all over the country are sending a message that they want change in Washington.

She harkened Obama’s famous campaign slogan, asking, “How’s that hope-y, change-y stuff working out for you?”

It’s too bad Palin didn’t have proper notes on hand, as she did for the Q & A after her speech. Then again, the message that it was actually the Bush administration that left us more in debt and less secure, wouldn’t go over well with her audience.

Besides, she probably couldn’t fit it all on her palm.

Nonetheless, should the former governor address the subject again, here’s a quick crash course that might help her keep her facts straight.

It’s a point that’s been made before, but one that bears repeating every time conservatives start in on it: the deficit was created by their president, on their watch, with surprisingly few objections from them.

HOW DID WE GET HERE? When President Bush took office in 2001, the federal budget had been in the black for three years, and continued surpluses were projected for a decade to come.

By the time Mr. Bush left office in early 2009, the government had run big deficits for seven straight years, and the economy was on the brink of another Great Depression. On Jan. 7, 2009 — two weeks before Mr. Obama was inaugurated — the Congressional Budget Office issued new budget estimates showing a fiscal year 2009 deficit of well over $1 trillion.

About half of today’s huge deficits can be chalked up to Bush-era profligacy: mainly cutting taxes deeply while borrowing to wage two wars and to enact the Medicare prescription drug benefit — all of which Republicans supported, virtually in lockstep.

The other half of recent deficits is due to the recession and the financial crisis.

How’d that “fiscal responsibility” stuff work out? We’ll get to the recession, the financial crisis, and their part in the deficit in future posts. For now let’s stick to the deficit history lesson.

Perhaps it would help if I drew Palin (and a few other conservatives) a picture, but the CBO took care of that too.

And if that’s not enough, I’ve plotted out this helpful timeline.

And that’s just from a quick glance at old CBO reports and news articles about the Bush administration’s annual budget. It doesn’t factor in the annual cost of the Bush tax cuts (in the form of lost tax revenues), or the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (which Bush adamantly refused to pay for, with tax increases or other budget adjustments). Let alone the impact of 30 years of conservative economic policy on working- and middle-class Americans.

But all of the above relate to the deficit, and deserve to be examined in their own light.

Here’s hoping Mrs. Palin still has room on her hand. Or remembers that she has another one.