Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) couldn’t find a straight answer to give Sunday when he was asked how Republican fiscal policies today differ from their policies during the Bush era.
“What does distinguish the Republican Party of today from the Republican Party under President BushÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s rule with regards to spending, which is where it got out of control — under Republican rule,” asked host David Gregory on NBC’s Meet The Press.
“LetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s look at a few facts Ã¢â‚¬â€ thank you for the opportunity, because I want to respond to what Chris said. The last year that President Bush was in office, 2008, the deficit was 3.2 percent of the gross domestic product. Today itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ten percent. We just hit the $13 trillion cap on national debt,” Cornyn said.
“Where did some of that debt come from?” Gregory asked. “The President of the United States was George Bush when they passed a huge TARP, which was to bail out the banks. I mean thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what ran up a lot of debt as well. Are you saying a Republican was somehow different?”
“YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re ignoring the stimulus that … failed according to the presidentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s own standards,” Cornyn replied. “He said he was supposed to keep unemployment to eight percent.”
But Gregory persisted in his original question. “So my question is still: What is the distinction of the Republican Party of today versus the Bush record that youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re defending?”
“Well, I think what people are looking for, David, are checks and balances,” Cornyn said. “TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve had single-party government and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s scaring the living daylights out of them, and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s keeping job creators on the sidelines rather than investing and creating jobs. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s why the private sector isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t creating jobs.”
“In other words,” comments the AlterPolitics blog, which posted the Cornyn interview online, “they intend to resume BushÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s policies of increasing the national debt to pay for deeper tax cuts for the rich, to bail out Wall Street fat cats, and to wage more endless and unnecessary wars.”
Cornyn’s lack of detail will give ammunition to critics of Republican policies who argue the party is determined to roll ahead with the same policies that some economists now blame for the economic meltdown — things such as the Bush tax cuts, which some argue contributed to the federal government’s debt burden and resulted in a greater share of wealth being concentrated in the hands of a few.
Many critics point to the GOP’s campaign to extend the Bush tax cuts as proof of this. Last week, Arizona Republican Sen. John Kyl came in for heavy criticism when he argued that the extension of the Bush tax cuts — unlike health care reform and jobless benefits — shouldn’t be offset by spending cuts. It’s estimated that extending the tax cuts, which expire at the end of this year, would cost the US $2.2 trillion. Extending only the part applying to people earning over $250,000 would cost $678 billion.
On Saturday, President Barack Obama took an aggressive stance against Republican tactics and policies, saying the party was harming the unemployed to look fiscally responsible.
“They say we shouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t provide unemployment insurance because it costs money,” Obama said during his weekly radio address. “So after years of championing policies that turned a record surplus into a massive deficit, including a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve finally decided to make their stand on the backs of the unemployed.”
The following video was broadcast on NBC’s Meet The Press Sunday July 18, 2010, and uploaded to YouTube by DemRapidResponse.