by Daniel Gardner
In a campaign speech July 3, 2008, then Senator Barack Obama said, "The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion for the first 42 presidents - #43 added $4 trillion by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back -- $30,000 for every man, woman and child. That's irresponsible. It's unpatriotic."
Should we hold our leaders responsible according to their own words and values? Or, can we just chalk up campaign speeches to political rhetoric without meaning or consequences? Or, do we hold some leaders accountable but not others?
On the day Barack Obama was sworn into office as President our total public debt outstanding was $10,626,877,048,913.08. In five years (as opposed to George W. Bush's eight years), President Obama has driven up (Obama's terminology) our national debt adding nearly $7,000,000,000,000.00 "by his lonesome." Just using the same terminology, standards, and arguments Mr. Obama used in 2008.
How has Mr. Obama done this? Did he "take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children"? The U.S. owes China a historically high $1.317 trillion as of last November.
In 2008, candidate Obama noted that "we are going to have to pay back -- $30,000 for every man, woman and child." Guess what? In 2014 after President Obama has pulled out his credit card for the past five years, "we are going to have to pay back" $54,622 "for every man, woman and child." Over the last five years President Obama has nearly doubled our debt.
In 2008, candidate Obama concluded Bush's debt was "irresponsible" and even "unpatriotic." Really? How would President Obama qualify his own handling of our nation's debt? Would he use different standards?
One of the hottest campaign issues of the 2008 presidential race was our national debt. But, after Democrats swept the national elections controlling both Houses of Congress and winning the White House in 2008, our national debt went away as a burning issue. Why? If it was important in 2008, why is it no longer important in 2014?
All of this brings us back to the question of holding all of our leaders equally responsible, and especially holding them responsible according to their own values and standards. Americans value fairness and a level playing field. Is it fair to judge President Obama by his own standards? If so, then is President Obama "irresponsible" and "unpatriotic" for his handling of America's debt?
President Obama has three more years to add to our debt and to leave his mark on our economy. We know what he has done the past five years. If Mr. Obama's performance the past five years is any indicator, we can reasonably expect him to drive up our national debt by another $4,000,000,000,000 before leaving office, or more than $11,000,000,000,000 over his eight years in office, more debt than all presidents before him combined.
I have to agree with candidate Obama that such handling of our national debt is irresponsible and unpatriotic.