Revisionist History with Mitch McConnell

February 2, 2012
By David M. F. Schankula

Talking Points Memo:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has embraced the argument that President Obama was able to pass every bit of his legislative agenda in his first two years thanks to large Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress. It’s intended as a counterpoint to the President’s re-election strategy of attacking the congressional GOP as do-nothing obstructionists. But it’s also a revisionist history of the 111th Congress, during which McConnell more than any other Republican in Washington stood athwart Obama’s agenda to great effect.

The White House has “been trying to pretend like the President just showed up yesterday, just got sworn in and started fresh,” McConnell declared Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. “In fact, he’s been in office for three years. He got everything he wanted from a completely compliant Congress for two of those three years… We are living in the Obama economy.”

This isn’t a new claim for McConnell, but it’s audacious even by Washington’s lax standards. It was McConnell, after all, who led Senate Republicans in serial filibusters — a record-setting number — successfully thwarting large chunks of Obama’s agenda.

They go on to pick Mitch’s claim apart, piece by piece.

Of course, Mitch’s revisionist history isn’t just an attempt to excuse how he and his GOP colleagues have ground Washington to a halt at a time when the country can least afford legislative stagnation.

Mitch’s revisionist history also seeks to revise the economic reality of America. McConnell insists that Obama, having been in office for three years, is to blame for our fiscal house being in foreclosure.

This is not true.

The Center for American Progress:

The federal budget deficit will again exceed $1 trillion this fiscal year, the Congressional Budget Office reported today. That news is sure to trigger another round of condemnations from politicians and pundits who have a political or ideological interest in pinning these deficits on the domestic spending policies of President Barack Obama.

Unfortunately for them, today’s report—along with dozens of other similar CBO reports in recent years—actually proves the opposite—that the current deficit is overwhelmingly the result of two factors: events that occurred before President Obama took office and tax cuts.

In fact, higher spending under Obama accounts for less than 20 percent of this year’s deficit, and nearly half of that was additional defense spending—not domestic spending. Bottom line: The narrative that an “Obama spending spree” caused our deficit problem is utterly false.

It should surprise no one that Mitch McConnell and the Republican Party don’t understand these fiscal facts, after all, they are the ones who led the country toward economic collapse.

At the start of 2007, the CBO projected a 2012 surplus of $170 Billion. By the time Obama took office two years later, they had already readjusted that estimate to a deficit of $264 Billion.

That Bush flip flop came primarily from the onset of the economic collapse. Mitch McConnell and the Republicans can pretend they didn’t cause that collapse, and they can further claim that all its net negative effects ended on January 20th, 2012. They can also claim to be the Party of Lincoln, to love their country, and to be on the right side of G-d.

Claiming stuff is easy, and Mitch is pretty good at it. But again, he’s wrong:

Increased spending prior to 2009—especially on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq—also contributed to this year’s deficit, to the tune of $153 billion. That’s because higher spending in 2007 and 2008, mostly relating to overseas military operations, caused the CBO to adjust its assumptions to more realistically project similar spending in 2012.

All told, 35 percent of the swing from a $170 billon projected surplus to a $1.079 billion deficit is directly attributable to events that preceded the current president’s term.

The remainder of the deterioration did happen after 2009, but higher spending wasn’t even close to the main culprit. The real problem was lower-than-expected revenues.

Oh, yes, the continuing gift of the Bush Tax Cuts. Read on.

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