Last week I talked about the contradictions within Christian conservatives, but I failed to mention how misleading the word "conservative" can be, particularly in regards to money in politics. Many people in this country, especially those on the right side of the political spectrum, overlook how poorly our so-called "conservative" administration has handled the federal budget.
In 1998, under President Clinton and the Republican congress, our nation had a balanced budget for the first time in decades. Two years later when Clinton left office, he handed President Bush an economic surplus of just over $200 billion. It's hard to believe that only five years later the Bush White House has managed to transform that surplus into a deficit of over $400 billion (see figure 1a). Even more, our national debt sits at $7.9 trillion ($7,934,273,232,130.67 written out) and has increased substantially each year since Bush has been in office (figure 1b). Whereas Clinton's surplus helped pay off the national debt, Bush's steadily increasing deficit is only making the situation that much worse. Our national debt is so bad that it has been increasing by an average of $1.54 billion per day since September 30th, 2004 (http://www.brillig.com/debt_clock/).
In fact, the national debt is so outrageous that so far this fiscal year the US government has spent $336 billion on paying off the interest of the national debt. In contrast, the government has spent only $61 billion on education, $15 billion on NASA, and $56 billion on the Department of Transportation. Over ten percent of our federal budget is spent paying interest off of the federal budget, which is currently the highest deficit of all time (as well as the highest national debt of all time). Ridiculous.
So how did we get ourselves into this unfortunate circumstance? The easy answer, and the ignorant one, is to suggest the war in Iraq is a big reason for our deficit. However, you might be interested to find out that all of the expenditures for Iraq are not included in the federal budget. So why is the deficit so large? Good question.
Wouldn't a "conservative" President want to be, I don't know, conservative with money? After all, a "conservative" President would not dare give a tax cut at a time of war, would he? Well, yes, he would. In fact, when President Bush gave his tax cut during the Iraq war, he was the first President in the history of our country to give a tax cut at a time of war. I don't think this sounds like being conservative with your money, but apparently President Bush and his administration have a different idea of what exactly conservative means. Big surprise.
Ironically, many people bash liberals for spending money haphazardly. And when liberals raise taxes to pay for their programs, there is even more of an uproar, because God forbid we actually pay for the programs we intend to carry out. Conservatives, on the other hand, spend money even more carelessly than liberals, but instead of paying for their own programs through taxes, they borrow money from future generations so that they never have to deal with paying for their own initiatives. Essentially, conservatives view our deficit and national debt as a never-ending and endlessly increasing credit card limit which future generations will have the burden of paying off.
So down the road, when liberals raise taxes to fix the enormous deficit President Bush has created, I don't want to hear any moaning and groaning from the conservatives. All the liberals are trying to do is fix the problems created by the lack of "conservative" spending by Republicans. Clinton fixed the problems created by Bush Sr. and Reagan, as figure 1a shows, and ten years from now we'll be saying the same thing about how a Democrat cleaned up the mess made by the Bush Republicans.
As you can see, during the Clinton years of the 90s, the Federal Deficit decreased each year until it became a surplus. Not coincidentally, the year it began its downward spiral was the year President Bush took office.
As you can see, since Bush has been in office, our National Debt has increased substantially each year. Apparently Bush is not all that conservative with money after all.
-Charts thanks to http://www.kowaldesign.com/budget/
Tim Waddingham is a senior, double-majoring in Speech Communication and Political Science. He gives a shot out to Justin Singleton.