When election season comes around, one can expect Republicans to emphasize their role as the party of fiscal responsibility, while the Democrats trot out their old argument to the contrary. They say that since recent Democratic presidents, such as Clinton and Obama, have left office with a smaller deficit than they started with, while Republicans like Bush and Reagan have done the opposite, we should actually be looking to Democrats for leadership in taking on the debt.
My desire is to refute this argument, and also to expose a fundamental flaw in the way Democrats think about our Republic. While it is true that Clinton and Obama have left (or will leave) office with the budget in good condition, one shouldn’t forget that they’re also leaving office with a Republican Congress.
Under our Constitution, it’s up to Congress, not the President, to write the budget, and the House of Representatives plays the dominant role. Not satisfied with what people in the media (who tend to give all the credit or blame to the President) had to say about the relationship between parties and debt, I decided to research the issue for myself.
From 1955-1995, a span of 40 years, the House was controlled by Democrats without interruption. During the latter half of this period the average deficit was 3.5 percent of GDP.
From 1995-2007, America had a Republican House. The average deficit was 0.8 percent of GDP.
After the Democrats came back, in 2007-2011, the deficit reached an obscene 7.2 percent of GDP.
During the present period, with Republicans in the majority, the figure fell to 4.0 percent of GDP.
I think we tend to make a grave mistake by assigning all the praise or blame for these things to the President, especially on an issue like the budget, where he has little direct control. The Democrats’ lust for centralized power often leads them to regard our nation as a monarchy where the President is in charge and the Congress’ job is to advance his agenda. But Republicans and Independents can do better than to follow this line of reasoning.
So let’s be proud of the fact that, in our system, decisions are in the hands of the many and not the few or the one. We got rid of the monarchy for a reason. And if you’re concerned about the burden of debt we leave on future generations, then vote Republican. We are, after all, in a Republic.