When Republicans in Washington, D.C. launch their non-stop "anti-Obama" rhetoric, they do so from an "evidence-free" zone, where everything is President Obama's fault and their own record doesn't matter. That's a place far, far from reality.
Their criticism of President Obama's just released budget doesn't just overlook a number of historical important facts, it pole vaults over them. A new policy paper released by the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, which I chair, brings those facts back into the public discussion. I encourage you to read it, and another recent policy paper that documents the policies that brought the economy back from the brink of disaster over the past year. You can watch me preview these policy papers, here.
Here's a brief look at some of that history. When President George W. Bush took office, President Clinton passed onto him a unified federal budget with a $236 billion surplus. Budget surpluses were projected for at least the next ten years. We were actually poised to be able to start paying down the national debt, instead of adding to it.
When President Bush left office, he handed President Obama a $1.3 trillion deficit. Even larger deficits were projected for the next ten years. The economy was on the verge of complete meltdown. How did President Bush and his Republican allies in Congress turn billions of dollars in surplus into more than a trillion dollars of deficit? They cut taxes for the rich, deeply, not once but twice. They entered two wars. They paid for none of it. The cost for all of it was simply put on the national credit card.
During the Bush years, they ran up more national debt than all the Presidents before him - combined!
For the past year, President Obama and Democrats in Congress have been working to bring our economy back from the edge of disaster. Cleaning up the mess the GOP created and left behind has proven to be, as one would expect, expensive.
Have all the problems been solved? No. They weren't created in one year and they were never likely to be solved in one year, especially in the first year of a new President's term. But the President and his Democratic allies in Congress have made substantial progress.
Of course, Republicans are busy denying that progress, even as they work to block it.
President Bush handed President Obama an economy in deep recession, on the verge of implosion. President Obama and Democrats in Congress stopped the slide toward the edge of the cliff and turned things around.
Instead of a continuing, growing recession, the economy has strengthened. The past two quarters have seen actual real growth in our economy.
We need to keep working to create more jobs. Unemployment is still too high. But let's not forget that unemployment more than doubled under the Bush policies, and that unemployment - now at 10%, was at 7.2% when President Bush left office.
More than 850,000 Americans lost their jobs during President Bush's final full month in office. In December 2009, just a year later, the number of Americans losing their jobs was 85,000. Still too many, but a reduction of 90% in the monthly rate handed off to President Obama.
We'll keep working to help businesses create new jobs through a variety of initiatives this year. That work is far from over.
But it is important to remember that those who are most loudly criticizing the President and his policies are those whose policies created the economic mess he inherited. They have done little to support the policies that stopped and turned around the Bush economic meltdown and started our economy growing again, and they deny the plain facts that Democratic policies are working.