In the debate over the nation’s rising debt, rhetoric trumps reality. In January 2001, the U.S. budget was balanced for the first time in decades and the Congressional Budget Office was forecasting surpluses totaling $5.6 trillion by 2011. A decade later, the national debt is larger, as a percentage of the economy, than at any time in U.S. history except for the period shortly after World War II.
75 percent of the members currently serving in Congress voted for at least one — and in most cases more than one — of three policies that contributed to fully one-third of the $12.7 trillion swing from projected surpluses to real debt:
- President George W. Bush’s 2001 and 2003 tax cuts
- Funding for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq
- President Obama’s 2009 stimulus bill