Republican rhetoric on our national debt doesn’t match their history

From Harry S.Truman to Jimmy Carter, every U.S. president – Republican and Democrat – steadily paid down the debt our nation incurred during our fight against Germany, Japan, and the rest of the Axis powers in World War II, but that pattern came to an end during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, as evidenced by the following graph:

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While our national debt steadily declined under presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter, that same debt rose steadily and rapidly under Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, before finally starting to decline again under President Bill Clinton. Thanks to two extremely costly wars and a hefty tax cut during those wars, George W. Bush drove the national debt back up, leaving me to wonder why it is that Republicans still claim to be the party of fiscal responsibility, given the fiscal irresponsibility of the last three Republican presidents.

5 comments to Republican rhetoric on our national debt doesn’t match their history

  • PartiallyBlue

    You wrote: “. . .why it is that Republicans still claim to be the party of fiscal responsibility, given the fiscal irresponsibility of the last three Republican presidents.”

    Considering Eisenhower, Nixon, and Ford were Republicans in your chart, you might want to subsitute the word “Reaganite(s)” for “Republican(s)” in the above sentence.

    That has been the problem with Republicans for the past 30 years. They adopted Reagan’s portmanteau of theater and politics in a single person without a regard for governance.

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    • T.

      This. Republicans before that were not particularly bad although they had a tendency to go on witch hunts due to McCarthy – in fact I could even argue that Reagan while he was terrible in economics really didn’t care for a lot of these issues that are brought up in civil rights and stem cell research. To my knowledge for the most part with what I read about him? He really didn’t care about those issues because it didn’t have to deal with him so he simply didn’t seek them out.

      ( I’m not so sure about abortion, I have to check about that. But I know the far right hijacked what ‘he thought’ and twisted it to their liking. However, since he had severe a severe case of Alzheimer’s disease by the time they took off with him supporting them … In a way, that’s sort of depressing. I’ve actually read his book, so it’s interesting to see what he thought. George W. Bush in his own way is fascinating too, I mean in the whole “He’s a trainwreck” sort of way. )

      The only problem is that now days, majority of Republicans are now Reaganites – so now currently their synonymous to each other. This may not be synonymous in the future however? Now it’s the case, for as long as the Republicans keep looking back at only Reagan, and not the presidencies that came before him? Why is that people seem to attack Reagan and criticize him and not say – Eisenhower or Ford?

      About the only Republican I know that breaks that mold is currently Ron Paul – the rest? Are mostly that. If we had some Republicans like Eisenhower, Nixon, and Ford? We might actually see some responsibility. ( Okay, not Nixon in terms of ethics, but my grandparents did state before the whole Watergate Scandal, he was actually a decent president with freezing gas prices. I think what was most tragic about Watergate was the fact it looked like he was going to win anyway without it and he felt the need to do it. )

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  • AR

    “Why is that people seem to attack Reagan and criticize him and not say – Eisenhower or Ford? ”

    Because Eisenhower and Ford didn’t go on a rampage of union busting, deregulation, and tax reduction that resulted in soaring national debt. Nor did they attack the social safety net and say irresponsible things like, “Government isn’t the solution it’s the problem.”

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    • forgotmyscreenname

      What was irresponsible about that quote? He was right. Coming out of the 1970s, big government had a strangehold over the economy and people’s lives.

      Reagan was willing to take 80% of what he wanted from a Democrat Congress. Deregulation and tax reduction got us out of Jimmy’s malaise.

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  • AR

    Deregulation got us October, 2008.

    No, he was not right. If government is the problem, the schools, roads, clean water, fire and police protection, parks, libraries, clean air, are also the problem. Which is nuts. Thanks to Reagan, people have this entity in their minds called “The Government” that is always and everywhere evil. This enables people to say inane things like, “Keep your government hands off our Medicare.” It’s one thing to say, we think government should do these things; you think it should not. That’s a reasonable debate, and one that we as a nation definitely need to have. Further many people want to reduce government spending in general, but also want their particular programs to remain funded. So a little education and a lot of hard decision-making needs to be had. But “Government is the problem” is ridiculous and irresponsible. It encourages simplistic and unreasonable thinking.

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