Mitt Romney’s campaign has released a web video falsely claiming that President Obama has somehow created more debt than all his predecessors combined.
“[The President] has managed to pile on nearly as much debt as all the previous presidents combined.”
As numerous fact-check organizations have repeatedly pointed out, Romney’s claim is demonstrably false. While President Obama has fought to deal with the consequences of the recession he inherited, the necessary increase in debt is far less than Romney claims.
The day he took office, the President inherited both an economy in free fall and “the largest deficit relative to the economy since the end of World War II.” Despite the fact that President George W. Bush inherited a surplus, he went on to spend roughly $4.4 trillion on policies including the Bush tax cuts and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, leaving behind a national debt of $10.5 trillion.
Even conservative economists like former President Reagan adviser Martin Feldstein noted that the economic crisis required “increased government spending” and pushed for “big spending, carried out quickly.” Mainstream economists said that the crisis required “a mix” of public spending and tax cuts that the President was doing at the time. Despite the cost of the Recovery Act, it received “general approval from economists.”
While focusing on economic recovery, the President has promoted policies that make much-needed reforms to reduce the deficit. Though Republicans have walked away from some of the President’s proposals to reduce the deficit reduction by trillions, the President has still put forward serious deficit reduction plans. In his latest budget proposal, he has outlined a plan that includes $4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next ten years—including $1 trillion that he signed into law last year.
A quick look at Romney’s record as governor of Massachusetts, however, reveals the true irony of his false attack. After four years in office, Romney left behind a deficit of $1 billion and increased the debt by 16 percent.
Now a GOP presidential candidate, Romney is pushing tax and budget proposals that would explode the deficit by $5 trillion over the next 10 years. The bulk of that cost comes from his plan to cut taxes for corporations and the wealthy. And as the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities’ Jared Bernstein notes, Romney’s proposals would drive up the debt to 99 percent of GDP in 2021.