As MSNBC host Contessa Brewer discovered today, Republican Rep. Mo Brooks (AL) does indeed have an economics degree. But in flexing his supposed expertise, Brooks decided to deploy the GOP’s disingenuous talking point that the nation’s debt crisis was somehow created by President Obama for President Obama.
Parroting the Republican claim that the GOP has already conceded in the debt negotiations by agreeing to consider raising the debt limit at all, Brooks declared that this whole debacle is “[Obama's] debt. It’s his debt ceiling.”
Brewer, however, noted that, given the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, someone else — namely President George W. Bush — might also be responsible for the debt. But Brooks decided that that debt was still Obama’s fault as “he could’ve removed our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan” if “he had so chosen”:
BROOKS: We have already compromised. Why should we give Barack Obama $2.4 trillion? It’s his debt. It’s his debt ceiling. We have already agreed to give him $2.4 trillion if he will just agree with us to solve the problem. And a long-term solution, the only long-term solution, is a balanced budget constitutional amendment.
BREWER: Why do you lay all that debt at the feet of President Obama when it’s clear that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan added to the nation’s debt?
BROOKS: It did. And he’s the commander-in-chief and he could’ve removed our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan at any point of time if he had so chosen.
It is important to note that Obama has called to remove troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, plans which will reduce costs by $42 billion. But more importantly, while Obama certainly could lower the continuing costs of the war through faster withdrawal, he could not have stopped the massive blow Bush landed on the debt.
At the start of his term, Bush inherited a $230 billion surplus. At the end, he had added more than $4 trillion to the national debt, “the biggest increase under any president” at that time. In June of 2008, the costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars alone hit $850 billion, or more than $1.5 trillion when veterans’ benefits and other indirect costs are included.
What’s more, 130 Republicans voted to raise the debt ceiling to allow for Bush’s spending spree. And as the economic degree-heavy Center for Budget and Policy Priorities notes, it is Bush’s policies that “explain virtually the entire federal budget deficit over the next ten years.”
In order for Brooks to win his blame game, Obama would have to go back in time, elect himself president in 2000, reverse his positions, and go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s a hollow accusation — unless, of course, Brooks’ economics degree came with a concentration in time travel.