Judson Phillips, the profiteer behind Tea Party Nation and the National Tea Party Convention, which begins today, appeared on CNN yesterday to promote the gathering. Host Rick Sanchez challenged Phillip’s claim that big government spending “started” under President Obama, leading Phillips to, at first, defend President Bush’s legacy by grossly underestimating the deficit Bush created. When Sanchez corrected Phillips, he quickly pivoted to attacking the former president, before concluding that it “doesn’t matter” what Bush did:
PHILLIPS: What got the Tea Party movement going is just the absolute sheer magnitude of the spending and what will ultimately come as the tax increases that started with this administration. You know when the Bush administration was wrapping things up, I think the deficit was something like $160 billion, some number like that –
SANCHEZ: No, no, I think I can help you there. $1.2 trillion.
PHILLIPS: That was not the — that includes all the Obama spending.
SANCHEZ: No sir, no sir, no sir. Let’s do this together and fairly, George Bush left Obama a deficit of $1.2 trillion. Fact. [...]
PHILLIPS: Well, I’m not — you know, the Tea Party movement does not defend George W. Bush. George W Bush is not exactly one of my favorite people. There’s a whole of things that George W. Bush did that I don’t agree with. But it doesn’t matter whether we like Bush, don’t like Bush — think whatever we think, Bush is not president, Obama is.
As the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) notes, “Obama largely inherited today’s huge deficits” — it estimates Obama inherited $1.4 trillion from Bush. The Bush tax cuts alone will contribute $3.4 trillion to the deficit through 2019 while the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan under Bush alone have cost another $1.1 trillion. This CBPP chart demonstrates that the bulk of the deficit was driven by Bush policies: