Iowa Senator Tom Harkin was at his worst Wednesday morning in a press conference.
Sure, there was the usual immature Democratic Party name-calling — calling Republicans “dead-beat debtors” and characterizing Republicans who oppose raising the debt ceiling as a “cult fringe,” even though polls seem to be showing that 60% of Americans are in that “fringe.” But beyond that, Harkin uttered a demonstrably untrue statement, something so obviously untrue that if a Republican or conservative had said something similar against Democrats, the establishment press would have dwelt on it for days.
In apportioning responsibilities for annual federal budget deficits and the staggering increases in the national debt, Harkin made the following claim:
“Democrats are willing to do whatever is necessary to raise the debt ceiling, not for future borrowing but to pay the debts that we racked up in the past. Which, mostly was racked up by a Republican House, a Republican Senate and a Republican President in the last 8 years. Yet, they’re not willing to pay the bills,” Harkin said.
Well, Tom, not exactly.
Giving Harkin the greatest possible (and totally undeserved) benefit of the doubt, let’s look at where the national debt stood at each fiscal year-end beginning with September 30, 2000:
Let’s take it in steps, assuming that each annual session of Congress and the President is fully responsible for the debt buildup occurring during the subsequent October through September fiscal year:
- Year ended September 30, 2001 — Bill Clinton was president in 2000, and the Republicans controlled Congress. The $133 billion debt buildup during that fiscal year doesn’t make Harkin’s list. (Gosh, I thought we were running surpluses?)
- Two years ended September 30, 2003 – George W. Bush was president, Republicans controlled Congress, and Democrats controlled the Senate during from mid-2001 until the end of 2002. The The $976 billion increase in the national debt during those two years doesn’t make Harkin’s list.
- Four years ended September 30, 2007 — George W. Bush was president and Republicans controlled Congress during calendar 2003-2006. Republicans get full credit for the $2.24 trillion increase in the national debt during that period.
- Two years ended September 30, 2009 — Bush was president, but Democrats controlled Congress during calendar 2007-2008. The $2.9 trillion increase in the national debt during that period doesn’t make Harkin’s list.
- Year ended September 30, 2010 — Barack Obama was president and Democrats controlled Congress during calendar 2009. The $1.62 trillion increase in the national debt during that year doesn’t make Harkin’s list.
- October 1, 2010 through July 19, 2011 (the day before Harkin spoke) — Obama was president and Democrats controlled Congress during calendar 2010. On July 19, 2011, the national debt was $14.34 trillion. The roughly $780 billion increase in the national debt during the current fiscal year doesn’t make Harkin’s list.
- Republican President and Republican Congress — $2.24 trillion
- All other situations — over $6.4 trillion
Most of the increases in the national debt occurred during all other situations.
Republicans did not “mostly” run up the national debt. Tom Harkin’s statement was false. Assigning responsibility on a strict calendar year to calendar year basis would make Harkin’s statement proportionally even more untrue.
A search on Harkin’s name at the Associated Press’s main national web site returns nothing containing Harkin’s statement above. A search on Harkin’s full name at the New York Times comes up empty. I am so not surprised.
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.