Unless you have been living in a cave for the last year with no contact with the outside world, then you have to have heard the most popular Republican lie. The lie they want everyone to believe is that President Obama is responsible for the huge deficit our country now faces. They're hoping to ride that lie back to being a majority party next November.
The Republican Party seems to think if they repeat this charge loud enough and long enough then the voters will believe it, and they're probably right about people like the teabaggers who are looking for anything they can use against Obama -- whether it's true or not. But as the chart above shows, most of the deficit can be traced directly back to George W. Bush's failed policies.
The chart, which appeared in The Economist and was composed using figures from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, shows that although some Obama actions have added to the deficit (such as the stimulus), these pale in comparison to three other causes. These are the recession (caused by Republican deregulation of Wall Street and financial institutions), the unnecessary wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the massive Bush tax cuts for the rich. Of these three, the tax cuts for the rich are the most to blame (although the other two aren't far behind).
The sad fact is that George Bush would have created a massive deficit even if the recession had not happened. That's because he decreased the amount of taxes collected and at the same time increased government spending -- a sure recipe for creating a deficit. I know some Republicans are still trying to float the myth that a tax cut will produce an increase in tax revenue, but that has never been true -- you don't need any more than an elementary school level of math to know that.
I know there are many Republicans who think the way out of the deficit is to make draconian cuts of government services. I disagree. This would just cost more jobs that we can't afford to lose and extend the recession. Instead of massive cuts, there are three things that should be done quickly to help get the deficit back under control:
1. Stop the wars. We have already spent over a trillion dollars on these two wars (Iraq and Afghanistan) and accomplished nothing except to prop up corrupt puppet governments and create new enemies through the killing of innocent civilians.
2. Raise taxes on the richest people. While the middle and working classes have been devastated by the recession, the rich are making more money than ever (and none of it is "trickling down"). And their taxes are lower than at any time since World War II (including during the Reagan administration). They are not paying their fair share and that needs to be corrected.
3. Job creation should be a priority, even if more money must be spent to get this done. The more people that are put back to work, the more tax money that will be collected and the sooner we can work our way out of the deficit.
Adam Cohen over at Zero Energy Construction puts it well when he says, "America's deficit problems are mostly the result of American wars abroad and the Bush era tax cuts -- things the current administration didn't implement. . .You don't have to agree with everything the current administration does, but democracy isn't an effective form of government when voters are blind to the real cause behind the effects they criticize."
He's right. The Republicans will be repeating the lie of the "Obama-caused deficit" many times between now and November. Don't believe them. It's just not true.