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The Big Lie: Republicans Balance Federal Budgets

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/3/2014 Category: TV
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,712 times Debate No: 48295
Debate Rounds (3)
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The last Republican president who ever balanced the budget was Dwight Eisenhower.Between 1998 and 2000, President Bill Clinton"s Treasury Department paid off more than $360 billion in debt. As a result of 115 straight months of economic expansion that began after an increase in the top income tax rate " which was virulently opposed by the right " the huge deficits left by 12 years of Republican rule had been transformed into a surplus.Back in 1980, people were spooked because inflation had soared to 13.5% and the economy was heading towards a recession. Gas sipping Toyotas from Japan were also kicking the U.S. Auto industry"s butts. Ronald Reagan and his band of Ayn Rand-reading, Laffer curve-loving conservative zealots were so damn sure that if we removed all supposed hurdles to growth " like regulations, unions, and taxes " wealthy folks would start investing, and jump-start the economy. In Supply-Side Bizarro World, once the One Percent"s done with gobbling up all the resources, the wealth would somehow work its way through their digestive system and eventually tinkle down trickle down on the poor.

Now, even pro-business thought leaders like Forbes magazine admit that jobs aren"t created by wealthy investors, jobs are created by consumers buying lots of sh*t. Reagan and his Republicans went straight to work dismantling regulations and cutting taxes. As written in Wikipedia, "During Reagan"s presidency, federal income tax rates were lowered significantly with the signing of the bipartisan Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 which lowered the top marginal tax bracket from 70% to 50% and the lowest bracket from 14% to 11%." On top of that, there was the Deficit Reduction Act of 1984 (DEFRA), which lowered the capital gains tax to a maximum rate of 28%, and "freezing the minimum wage at $3.35 an hour, slashing federal assistance to local governments by 60%, cutting the budget for public housing and Section 8 rent subsidies in half, and eliminating the antipoverty Community Development Block Grant program." Oh, yeah, and Reagan loved busting unions, too.Despite his tax cutting hero status, Reagan raised taxes 11 times. But mostly to finance our bloated military, not to help people. Believe it or not, Democratic President Bill Clinton left George W. Bush with a huge budget surplus. Dubya promptly transformed Clinton"s surplus into a deficit with his war and tax cuts for the rich, in accordance with the conservatives long-term "Starve the Beast" strategy " as popularized by Reagan. Basically, Republicans can get rid of earned benefits " like unemployment insurance, social security, and medicare " and other government-run programs that the American people pay for with their taxes by raising military spending, cutting taxes for the wealthy, and then telling voters that the government has no money and we need to pay off our deficit. If Democrats like Clinton and his supporters find a way to create a surplus, the Republicans will just spend it so the federal government"s hands will be tied again.
Within months after taking office in the narrowest victory of nearly any U.S. president"by only one vote in the Supreme Court"George W. Bush had begun to turn that surplus back into deficits that grew and grew, despite funding two wars on emergency supplemental bills that were not figured into the budget.

Vice-President Cheney laughed off the promises that the Bush tax breaks would pay for themselves and the budget would be balanced: "Reagan proved deficits don"t matter." But deficits do matter to Republicans"whenever there is a Democratic president.

Since they woke up from a coma on the day President Obama was elected, Republicans have pushed two Big Lies: The President is responsible for the deficit, which is nearly entirely the result of Bush-era choices that the Republicans refused to abandon, and the deficit is responsible for the poor economy.

In both instances, the opposite is true.

Using the deficit as a battering ram, the GOP pushed for the rapid adoption of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, which would ignore the true causes of the deficit"tax breaks, the wars and an unfunded Medicare expansion"and demand huge cuts to Medicaid, Pell Grants and every service the government provides.

Paul Ryan proposed a budget plan with these draconian measures yet impartial experts warn that his budget doesn"t balance for decades. The largest expenditure in the Ryan budget is interest on the national debt.Eager to prove how conservative he is, Mitt Romney signed up for a balanced budget plan that works even faster than Ryan"s, by cutting even more government services. And he pledges to do it without asking rich Americans like himself to ever pay a nickel more in taxes.

Like the majority of Republicans in Congress, Romney has signed a pledge to never say aye to any new taxes. Forget asking the rich to contribute what they can. Under Romney"s plan they"ll pay even less. Of course, to do this Romney would have to demand that the working poor and the middle class pay up to $2000 a year more to make the math work.

And when does Mitt Romney"s budget balance? Don"t ask Romney senior adviser Ed Gillespie (who also advised George W. Bush). Yesterday Gillespie told CNN"s Wolf Blitzer, " Uh"Wolf, I"m not sure of that myself, actually. I"ll get that to you though, and I"m sure it"s on our website." Don"t count on it.

Why? Romney purposely released a budget that can"t be scored, and thus makes no serious projections. No one can say he isn"t a Republican now!

Republicans have long abandoned any impulse to open a real discussion about the federal budget in hopes of distorting the debate. They"re attacking cuts that eliminate wasteful spending in Medicare, while proposing trillions in cuts that would do real damage. They"re blaming deficit spending for a bad economy that only deficit spending can help us to escape. They"re promising to balance the budget with Paul Ryan"s smile and the magic of trickle down economics.

And how did that work out last time?Federal Fiscal Years run from October 1 to September 30, when a new president comes into office he has to work 8 1/2 months under the last Fiscal Year of the previous administration. For example, Bush43's last Fiscal Year was FY09 which was drawn up in the winter of 2008 and ran from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2009. In figuring the National Debt for an administration you take the national debt figure from the end of the last FY for the previous administration (which would be the starting National Debt figure and subtract that from the national debt figure at the end of their last FY.

08/31/2012 16.0 trillion 09/30/2009 11.9 trillion Obama total 4.1 trillion

09/30/2009 11.9 trillion 09/30/2001 5.8 trillion Bush43 total 6.1 trillion*

09/30/2001 5.8 trillion 09/30/1993 4.4 trillion Clinton total 1.4 trillion

09/30/1993 4.4 trillion 09/29/1989 2.8 trillion Bush41 total 1.5 trillion**

09/29/1989 2.8 trillion 09/30/1981 .997 trillion Reagan total 1.9 trillion***

09/30/1981 997 billion 09/30/1977 699 billion Carter total 299 billion

Democrats total years 16 total deficit 5.8 trillion average deficit per year 362 Billion

Republicans total years 20 total deficit 9.5 trillion average deficit per year 476 billion

Obama put both wars back on budget when he entered office

Bush ran both wars off-budget supplementals to hide the true cost of the war.*

Bush43 doubled the national debt (from 5,807 billion to11,910 billion)*
Bush41 doubled the national debt (from 2,857 billion to 4,411 billion)**

Reagan tripled the national debt (from 997 billion to 2,857 billion)***

FY2012 -to 8/31/2012 (latest figures) from:
FY2011 figures from:
FY2000 to FY2010 figures from:
FY1977 to FY1999 figures from: president's economic policies are embedded in their federal budgets which are drawn up in


1. Pro is responsible for writing a clear resolution

Pro is upset about something that has to to do with Republicans, but exactly what? Did any Republican ever say that they always balanced the budget? A lie is saying something false, that is known to false by the person who said it. So who said what, and how does Pro know the person lied when he said? Pro has the burden in the debate to write a clear resolution and to prove it true. As Pro thinks about what he wants the resolution to be, I'll assume that Pro is affirming “Republicans are no more serious about balancing the budget than Democrats.

2. Only Congress authorizes spending; Republicans balanced the budget under Clinton

The President submits a budget, but Congress always has the final say. Not a dime can be spent without legislative approval. Usually budgets are worked out as a compromise. The balanced budget passed while President Clinton was in office was written by Republicans and vetoed four times by Clinton before speaker Gingrich talked him into signing it.

“When Republicans proposed their own balanced-budget plan, the White House waged a shameless Mediscare campaign to torpedo the plan — a campaign that the Washington Post slammed as “pure demagoguery.” It was Bill Clinton who, during the big budget fight in 1995, had to submit not one, not two, but five budgets until he begrudgingly matched the GOP’s balanced-budget plan. In fact, during the height of the budget wars in the summer of 1995, the Clinton administration admitted that “balancing the budget is not one of our top priorities.” [1.]

The economy of the 90's boomed because of efficiencies from the introduction of computer technology, by capital gains tax cuts that fostered the technology boom, and by the “peace dividend” that cut the military by 670,000 troops. Republicans and Democrats agreed that the Cold War ended, most of the military could be dismantled. Budget surpluses occurred in the 1920's under Republican presidents Harding and Coolidge, under Democrat Truman right after WWII, and under Clinton. In each case Republicans controlled both houses of Congress. [2.] There were also surplus years under Republican President Eisenhower, in years both when Republicans and Democrats controlled Congress.

3. Revenues doubled under Reagan

Reagan never had Republican control of Congress, controlling only Senate for part of his administration. Pro says that Reagan cut the high tax brackets, but raised other taxes. A problem with the 70% tax rate was that almost everyone who might have paid instead used government provided loopholes to escape the rate. Loopholes were reduced when rates were cut. Pro implies that the tax cuts and failure of Reagan's supply side economics cause revenues to plummet. That's wrong.

Revenues exceeded that 1980 level in eight of the next 10 years. Annual revenues over the next decade averaged $102 billion above their 1980 level (in constant 1996 dollars). [3.]

During this seven-year recovery, the economy grew by almost one-third, the equivalent of adding the entire economy of West Germany, the third-largest in the world at the time, to the U.S. economy. In 1984 alone real economic growth boomed by 6.8%, the highest in 50 years. Nearly 20 million new jobs were created during the recovery, increasing U.S. civilian employment by almost 20%. Unemployment fell to 5.3% by 1989. [4.]

Deficits under Reagan were due to Cold War military spending, a strategy approved by the Democrats in Congress. Republicans complain about many policies of President Roosevelt, but not the WWII deficits. Under Reagan defense spending was proportionately 50% higher than that of recent years. The Soviet Union collapsed under the economic pressure, ending the Cold War.

The 2000 recession began before Clinton left office. Wikipedia gives a plain-vanilla account of the recession and it had everything to do easy credit policies, trade deficits, and the housing bubble. [5.]

A recent study put the past cost of the wars as $2 trillion over 13 years, $153 billion per year on average. [6.] That was 7.6% of Federal outlays at the start of the wars, declining to 3.9% today. [7.] That's not a major factor in federal spending.

4. Obama plans deficits of a trillion dollars a year forever

Under the most Democrat-favorable accounting, Obama has more the doubled the Bush deficit rates:

Even excluding the 2009 deficit, which Obama’s dwindling number of shock troops falsely attribute entirely to George W. Bush, that leaves Obama with a four-year average deficit of $1.153 trillion. Include the 2009 deficit, two-thirds of which occurred after he was inaugurated, and his average rises to $1.231 trillion. To provide additional context, the eight-year average Bush deficit that Obama labeled “unpatriotic” was just $297 billion. Even being charitable to Obama by removing the 2001 budget surplus from Bush’s tally and adding the entire 2009 deficit to it, he still averaged just $511 billion. [8.]

Since President Obama has been in office, neither he nor Senate Democrats have ever proposed a budget plan that would lead to surpluses. The current budget submitted to Congress by the President was scored by the non-partisan Congressional as averaging deficits of just under a trillion dollars a year for the next ten years. [9.] Pro criticizes the latest Republican budget as taking 20 years to achieve a balanced budget. That's considerably better than the Democrat's plan of “never.”

The Republican budget plan submitted last year balanced the budget in 10 years. [10.] Neither last year's plan nor this year's received any Democrat support, and certainly no counter-offer of a plan to balance the budget.

The 2013 deficits were substantially reduced due to the Sequester that both increased taxes and cut spending. The Sequester was a compromise worked out between Republicans and Democrats. The compromise this year is beginning to undo the compromise. Republicans had agree to a much larger “grand bargain” that would have brought much greater deficit reductions, but President Obama reneged on the deal, believing that he could not get Senate Democrats to agree to the deficit reductions. [11.]

Pro claims that Republicans tried to pass a Balanced-Budget amendment, which Democrats blocked. Okay, how does that show Democrats are more intent on achieving a balanced budget than Republicans?

Pro makes dozens of assertions about what Republicans want and policies without a single source to verify any of them. I have accepted a few of his claims, as noted above. The rest I reject as false and unsubstantiated. Pro should produce a source for each of his assertions.

Pro gives links to Federal budget data, but his links only go to the top level of a large site. If he wants to reference the data, he should provide the links that go to it. He completely ignores who controls Congress, economic circumstances, and the reasons for spending. He says that Obama's unprecedented spending is justified to fight recession, but Reagan inherited a larger financial mess and turned it around much faster. Yet he finds both Bush and Reagan recession spending unjustified.

Pro has not made a coherent or convincing case. He has not proved a Republican lied about anything. He has all but conceded that Republicans are more earnest in seeking a balanced budget than Democrats, saying that Republicans want a Balanced Budget Amendment opposed by Democrats, and that Ryan's budget plan drives deficits to zero while Democrats have no such plan.

Debate Round No. 1


NedStarkshead forfeited this round.


Pro seemed so hyped-up in his beliefs that I thought he would want to defend them.

It turns out that most of Pro's case is copied from a blog post entitled "The Big Lie of the Day: Republicans Balance Federal Budgets" [12.] The blog post appeared on August 15, 2012, which explains why Romney was cited in the piece, and why there aren't any references to any of the specific claims about Republicans. The blog post is by "@lolgop" which pretends to no authority. It's a campaign screed left over from the last election.

It's permissible to use long quotation in a debate, but the debater must acknowledge the source of the quotation, provide source to back up the claims made, and defend the arguments. Pro has done none of that.

Debate Round No. 2


NedStarkshead forfeited this round.


Pro copied most of his case from a blog post without giving the source. He forfeited two rounds.

I thoroughly refuted Pro's case, and he provided no rebuttal.

Pro provided no sources for his most important contentions, while I provided thorough sourcing for my contentions. Pro's only sources were for economic data, and he failed to link that data correctly. Data that deficits have existed, and also some surpluses, does not argue who created them or whether they were justified.

Republicans have been the ones trying to balance the budget. Clinton vetoed the balanced budget four times before Gingrich and the Republicans got him to go along. Ryan and the Republicans proposed plans to get to a balanced budget in 10 years, and subsequently a more politically acceptable plan to achieve a surplus in 20 years. Democrats under President Obama have never proposed any plan to get to a balance budget.

Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by STALIN 3 years ago
This was very interesting to read.
Posted by Contra 3 years ago
I love some of the stuff you put in R1 Pro.

"eliminating the antipoverty Community Development Block Grant program"

Because the federal government has fought poverty so effectively in the past...

"Basically, Republicans can get rid of earned benefits " like unemployment insurance, social security, and medicare..."

I seriously doubt that the Republicans would cut much spending, much less the mandatory spending programs.

Nevertheless, I respect your enthusiasm and passion Pro. Good luck to you. And yeah, it's a fact that Bush ran up a deficit of several hundred billion dollars.
Posted by RoyLatham 3 years ago
All the reference URLs in R1 are truncated to just the top level of the site. Where is the data referenced?

Presidents propose budgets, but only Congress can authorize spending. Usually that's worked out as a compromise. For example, Clinton vetoed the Republican balanced budget four times before agreeing.
Posted by Vitezamotors 3 years ago
I'm serving right now. I just believe there is a political interest, one that I feel our government holds on to with the belief that civilians would not understand. But I won't say I disagree with you, I prefer to hold my opinions at the moment.
Posted by NedStarkshead 3 years ago
True true I agree with you about the tech boom .I was a Marine when Clinton was Pres and went to Bosnia which was a really really horrible war but short we had our mission and did it and was out of there, and i am sure you know what was going on over there an entire race was set to be wiped out so that its self was reason to be there .The latest Republican wars were based on lies, and we had no reason to be in those places fighting wars and there was no clear mission or exit strategy and our troops suffered because of those internal details of war and as a former Marine I can tell you that two of the most important things to a fighting force than the mission and its clarity and to leave as soon as the mission is complete .Not only is it the smart it has everything to do with how a person mentally deals with having to kill or be killed and being in a death environment .So not only did Bush lose these wars he lied about to get us in he massively failed the troops who had to fight his dirty wars at the same time bankrupting our country with the trillions of dollars Republicans did not pay for and being part of the debt Republicans created
Posted by Vitezamotors 3 years ago
You're one motivated dude. Please don't forget the technological boom in the mid 1990s (mainly during Clinton's presidency). Cell phone and computer sales literally bolstered our economy. We have not had anything like that sense. Clinton didn't need to do anything, the taxes received from companies fabricating computers and cellular phones was unbelievable. Also, we didn't really go to war.

Also, Gingrich was the speaker of the house, let's try to remember that Clinton didn't really do anything. Congress is the entity that creates bills for the president to sign.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by philochristos 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Dang. After Pro was sprawled out on the ground in defeat, Con just kept kicking him.
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Reasons for voting decision: F.F.