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The Big Fail: The “Unpatriotic” $5 Trillion Debt

- May 16, 2012

When It Comes To The Debt, Obama Is All Talk, No Leadership


In 2008, Obama Said Adding $4 Trillion To The National Debt Was “Irresponsible” And 
OBAMA: “The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion for the first 42 presidents - #43 added $4 trillion by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back -- $30,000 for every man, woman and child. That's irresponsible. It's unpatriotic.” (Sen. Barack Obama, Remarks At A Campaign Event, Fargo, ND, 7/3/08)

If $4 Trillion Was “Unpatriotic” And “Irresponsible,” What Is $5 Trillion?

The National Debt Has Increased More Under Obama In Three Years Than It Did In The Previous Eight Years. “The National Debt has now increased more during President Obama's three years and two months in office than it did during 8 years of the George W. Bush presidency. The Debt rose $4.899 trillion during the two terms of the Bush presidency. It has now gone up $4.939 trillion since President Obama took office. The latest posting from the Bureau of Public Debt at the Treasury Department shows the National Debt now stands at $15.566 trillion. It was $10.626 trillion on President Bush's last day in office, which coincided with President Obama's first day.” (Mark Knoller, “National Debt Has Increased More Under Obama Than Under Bush,” CBS News, 3/19/12)

Politifact: “Obama Is The Undisputed Debt King Of The Last Five Presidents.” “So by this measurement -- potentially a more important one -- Obama is the undisputed debt king of the last five presidents, rather than the guy who added a piddling amount to the debt, as Pelosi’s chart suggested.” (Louis Jacobson, “Nancy Pelosi Posts Questionable Chart On Debt Accumulation By Barack Obama, Predecessors,” Politifact, 5/19/11)

The Washington Post’s Fact Checker: Obama’s Record On The Debt “Looks Pretty Bad For Obama After Not Even Three Years In Office.” “If the chart were recast to show how much the debt went up as a percentage of GDP, it would look pretty bad for Obama after not even three years in office. In fact, Obama does almost twice as poorly as Reagan — and four times worse than George W. Bush.” (Glenn Kessler, “A Bogus Chart On Obama And The Debt Gets A New Lease On Life,” The Washington Post's "The Fact Checker", 9/29/11)

  • WaPo: “[Obama’s] Record On The Growth Of National Debt Is The Worst Of Recent Presidents.” “But the fact remains that under basic economic measures, not phony ones, his record on the growth of the national debt is the worst of recent presidents.” (Glenn Kessler, “A Bogus Chart On Obama And The Debt Gets A New Lease On Life,” The Washington Post's "The Fact Checker", 9/29/11)

Since Obama Took Office, The National Debt Has Increased By Over $5.0 Trillion, An Increase Of Over 47 Percent. (U.S. Treasury Department, Accessed 5/11/12)

  • Obama Is Responsible For “The Most Rapid Increase In The Debt Under Any U.S. President.” “The latest posting by the Treasury Department shows the national debt has now increased $4 trillion on President Obama's watch. The debt was $10.626 trillion on the day Mr. Obama took office. The latest calculation from Treasury shows the debt has now hit $14.639 trillion. It's the most rapid increase in the debt under any U.S. president.” (Mark Knoller, “National Debt Has Increased $4 Trillion Under Obama,” CBS News, 8/22/11)
  • Obama’s Budget Would Increase The Total Federal Debt To $25.9 Trillion By The End of 2022. (“Budget Of The United States Government, Fiscal Year 2013,” Office Of Management And Budget, 2/13/12)


Obama Opposed Raising The Debt Limit In 2006, Saying “America Has A Debt And A Failure Of Leadership. Americans Deserve Better.” OBAMA: “The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. …Increasing America's debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that "the buck stops here." Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.  I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America's debt limit.” (Sen. Barack Obama, Congressional Record, 3/16/06, p. 2237- 2238)

If Raising The Debt Ceiling Is A Failure Of Leadership, What Is Requesting The Largest Debt Ceiling Increase In History? Obama’s Request To Raise The Debt Ceiling Is “The Largest In History.” “Obama said raising the debt ceiling has been a common occurrence over the last 60 years. That's true, but this request is the largest in history, even in inflation-adjusted dollars.” (“FactChecking Dueling Debt Speeches,”, 7/27/11)

  • Obama Wanted An Increase Large Enough To Prevent Having To Face The Issue Again During His Reelection. OBAMA: “The only bottom line that I have is that we have to extend this debt ceiling through the next election, into 2013. And the reason for it is we’ve now seen how difficult it is to get any kind of deal done. The economy is already weakened. And the notion that five or six or eight months from now we’ll be in a better position to try to solve this problem makes no sense.” (President Obama, Press Conference, Washington, D.C., 7/22/11)

Under Obama, America’s Credit Rating Was Downgraded For The First Time In History

In Early 2011, Standard & Poor’s Warned The Obama Administration “To Get A Grip On Its Finances Or Risk Losing The Nation’s Sterling Credit Rating.” “A key credit agency issued an unprecedented warning to the United States government Monday, urging Washington to get a grip on its finances or risk losing the nation's sterling credit rating.” (Paul Wiseman, “S&P Warning: Fix Deficit Or Risk Credit Downgrade,” The Associated Press, 4/19/11)

In August 2011, Standard & Poor’s “Lowered The U.S. Credit Rating For The First Time, An Ignominious Legacy For Obama.” “First, the White House and Congress failed to reach a “grand bargain” on deficit reduction while barely meeting a self-imposed deadline to lift the nation’s debt limit. The bitter negotiations damaged the standing of Washington leaders—including Obama—in the eyes of an anxious and frustrated public. Then a rating agency lowered the U.S. credit rating for the first time, an ignominious legacy for Obama.” (George E. Condon Jr., “What A Week: Afghan Deaths, S&P, And Debt Limit Debate Challenge Obama,”National Journal, 8/6/11)

  • Asked In February 2010 If The U.S. Was At Risk Of Losing Its Triple A Rating, Timothy Geithner Said, “Absolutely Not.”  “‘Absolutely not.  And that will never happen to this country.  When people were most worried about the stability of the world, they still found safety in the Treasuries and the dollar,’ he continued. ‘That is a very, very important sign of basic confidence in our capacity as a country to work together to fix these problems.’” (Jake Tapper, “Geithner: U.S. Will Not Lose AAA Bond Rating,” ABC News' "Political Punch", 2/7/10)

President Obama “Is Now Firmly Part Of The Landscape That S&P Trashed.” “But as he prepares to head out of town on Aug. 15, the bad news keeps piling up: new fears of a double-dip recession, a jumpy stock market and then Standard & Poor’s downgrade on Friday of the nation’s triple-A credit rating for the first time in history. S&P blamed Washington’s dysfunctional political culture for its move. Knocking Washington gridlock is a favorite topic of Obama’s as well, but he is now firmly part of the landscape that S&P trashed.” (Carrie Budoff Brown and Glenn Thrush, “Obama’s Bus Trip Could Hit Speedbumps,” Politico, 8/7/11)

In His First Speech After The Downgrade, Obama Said Our Debt Was Still Highly Regarded; “Despite His Comments, The Main Wall Street Share Index, The Dow Jones, Extended Its Losses, Falling 4%.” “In his first public reaction to Standard & Poor's downgrading the US, President Obama said markets continued to regard US government debt as being the highest possible grade. Yet despite his comments, the main Wall Street share index, the Dow Jones, extended its losses, falling 4%. … Prior to President Obama's speech, the Dow had only been 2.5% lower.” (“Markets Fall Despite Obama Speech,” BBC, 8/8/11)


Obama Believed That A Failure To Control The Deficit Would “Make It Harder For The Economy To Grow.” “Obama wants to reduce the deficit because he’s concerned that over time, federal borrowing will make it harder for the U.S. economy to grow and create jobs, said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.”  (Hans Nichols, “Obama Plans To Reduce Budget Deficit To $533 Billion By 2013,” Bloomberg, 2/21/09)

  • Obama Recognized That If We Failed To Control Our Debt It Could Lead To A Double-Dip Recession. OBAMA: “It is important though to recognize if we keep on adding to the debt, even in the midst of this recovery, that at some point, people could lose confidence in the U.S. economy in a way that could actually lead to a double-dip recession.” (Fox News, “Interview With Major Garrett,” 11/18/09)
  • See The Video Here

If Obama Knew His Debt Would Make It Harder For The Economy To Grow, Why Did He Push It To Dangerous Levels?

The Government Is In A Debt Trap That Could Be Fueling The Recession. “Our recession may be driven, at this point, by the balance sheet of the government. Repairing that balance sheet by lowering spending may be the only way out of the debt trap. Call it the New Paradox of Thrift: the government can stimulate growth only by refusing to borrow. We need thrift all the way down.” (John Carney, “From Jackson Hole: A Defense Of The Debt Ceiling,” CNBC, 8/29/11)

CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf: Growing Debt Increases Risk Of “Sudden Fiscal Crisis.” “Growing debt also would increase the probability of a sudden fiscal crisis, during which investors would lose confidence in the government’s ability to manage its budget and the government would thereby lose its ability to borrow at affordable rates.” (Douglas Elmendorf, “CBO’s 2011 Long-Term Budget Outlook,” Congressional Budget Office “Director’s Blog”, 6/22/11)

The Total Federal Debt Is Now 101 Percent Of GDP. (Department Of The Treasury, “Debt To The Penny And Who Holds It,” Treasury Direct, Accessed 5/11/12; Bureau Of Economic Analysis, Accessed 5/11/12)

  • Economists Carmen Reinhart And Kenneth Rogoff Found Debt In Excess Of 90 Percent Of GDP Can Cut Growth Rates In Half. “When gross external debt reaches 60 percent of GDP, annual growth declines by about two percent; for levels of external debt in excess of 90 percent of GDP, growth rates are roughly cut in half.” (Carmen M. Reinhart and Kenneth S. Rogoff, “Growth In A Time Of Debt,” American Economic Review, May 2010)
  • Economists At The Bank Of International Settlements Concluded That Debt Beyond As Much As 80 Percent Of GDP Could Thwart Economic Growth. “Its authors—a trio of economists from the Bank for International Settlements—demonstrate that when government debt reaches beyond a certain threshold it begins to sap growth from the economy. Government debt beyond a threshold ranging from 80 to 100 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) begins to thwart growth.” (John Carney, “From Jackson Hole: A Defense Of The Debt Ceiling,” CNBC, 8/29/11)

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