Starving the Beast and Karl Rove's Awful New Commercial

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Karl Rove

By Bob Cesca: I promise I won't write about every single Karl Rove Crossroads GPS anti-Obama commercial that gets wet-farted into the ear-holes of American television viewers. I'll only write about the most awful ones. And the new one is a $7 million lie.

By the way, that's how much Rove's PAC will spend on this ad. $7 million in television airtime. That's a lot. In every swing state, this thing will find its way to the television viewing habits of middle-of-the-road, low-information undecideds. Think about that for a minute. It's arguably this sort of thing that allowed Scott Walker to win his recall election.

Go watch the ad, and then come back.

Did you see it? President Obama, Rove says, is personally adding $4 billion to the debt every day somehow, even though in 2008 he said it was wrong to mortgage our children's futures. That's the singular point of the ad. No rapidly-aging housewives. No sad dramatizations and concern-trolling about "hope and change." Just hugely simplistic numerical ways to describe the national debt.

But you know what Rove left out of his cute descriptions of the national debt? It's easily the biggest omission possible, and here it is.

President Obama isn't adding $4 billion to the debt every day. Fact. Karl Rove and President Bush are adding $4 billion to the debt every day. Fact.

As we've covered here before, the Congressional Budget Office calculated that the three largest drivers of the ongoing national debt are in this order: 1) the Bush tax cuts, which continue to carve a massive chunk out of government receipts, increasing deficits and adding to the debt, 2) the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which Bush didn't pay for and never once asked the richest Americans, especially those in the oil and defense industries, to help cover the bill, and 3) the Great Recession, which began under Bush and was the direct result of deregulatory Reaganomics. A distant fourth are the recovery measures, which were implemented by President Obama and which successfully mitigated an even deeper and costlier recession.

These factors are causing the debt to grow by $4 billion a day. Not the president's policies.

The president actually boasts the lowest rate of annualized growth in government spending of any modern president, other than President Clinton. Lower than Reagan, lower than Bush 41 and way lower than Bush 43. There are several reasons for this. First, he signed a PAYGO bill mandating that all spending programs be paid for. Second, he agreed to massive spending cuts as part of the (awful, in my opinion) debt ceiling deal. Third, he allowed massive reductions in public sector government jobs (also awful, in my opinion), unlike all other previous modern presidents. Fourth, he found additional ways to reduce the deficit, including the healthcare reform law which reduces the deficit. And fifth, he rescued the economy from the brink of disaster -- and now, the economy is growing, corporate profits are at record highs, unemployment is down and the housing market is slowly recovering, all of which are contributing to better government revenue.

This entire approach by Karl Rove and, formerly, the Bush administration is what's popularly known as the "starve the beast" strategy. Republicans, because of their successful self-branding as "fiscal hawks," are able to run up huge deficits. They've done this under all three recent Republican administrations. And then, when Democratic President X enters office, the Republicans blame the subsequent fiscal fallout on the Democratic administration -- you know, because Democrats always spend and tax too much. So Rove et al went nuts with big spending on tax cuts and wars, resulting in massive increases in long-term deficits and debt, and they're blaming President Obama for it. Why? Because they can. President Obama happens to be president now, even though he inherited this crap-on-a-stick from Bush/Rove. And Bush/Rove are exploiting the fact that voters aren't bright enough to see the larger picture.

Voters are only able to see Obama + Debt = Obama's Fault.

It's going to take a lot more than you, me and FactCheck.org to correct the record on the economy and the deficit. The Obama team has to get out in front of this and correct the record without sounding helpless. If they can couple the facts with their successful reductions in spending and their successful rescuing of the economy, they can overcome the Rove and Romney lies.

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