Dems apparently don’t think $16 trillion is an issue.
As the Democratic National Convention got underway yesterday the United States passed a milestone, although no one here in Charlotte wants to talk about it. According to the U.S. Treasury, the U.S. national debt stands now in excess of $16 trillion. That the timing worked such that this Rubicon was crossed on the very day that the Democrats began their convention is almost poetic.
Yet not once, between the hours of 7:30 and 11:15 p.m. last night when I was on the convention floor, did I hear any of the speakers even acknowledge that the country is, by the estimation of any minimally competent commercial banker, insolvent.
Among the resources available to us here on Radio Row is the capacity to keyword search the speeches given here at the convention. A search for the word “debt” in the text of the remarks of Tuesday night’s A-list speakers reveals exactly one reference. It’s in Michelle Obama’s speech in which she talks about the college debt burden that she and her husband dealt with early in their marriage.
The speakers last night talked about an entire galaxy of government-funded benefits including health care, college loans, veterans benefits, research grants, clean energy subsidies, job training programs, no-cost contraceptives, no-cost abortion, housing assistance and “safety nets”; the sum of which having the effect of involving the federal government in very nearly every aspect of daily living for very nearly every living American. But not a word was said on the subject of the country’s steadily and rapidly rising debt. And not a word was spoken as to how all of these emotionally-appealing programs will be paid for save for the tired and factually bankrupt trope of forcing “the rich” to pay their “fair share.”
By way of contrast, the debt was a major focus of the Republican convention. There was even a constantly updating national debt clock prominently displayed in the convention hall.
But here at the DNC, it’s just not a topic.
To the amusement of the crowd, Ohio governor Ted Strickland made fun of Mitt Romney, saying that if Romney were Santa Claus he’d fire the reindeer and outsource the elves. Such was the tenor of the discourse from the party that would have you select it to govern the most indebted sovereign nation in all of human history.
The only time balancing the budget came up last night was when Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick chided George W. Bush for taking the balanced budget he inherited from Bill Clinton and turning it into a deficit by the end of his term. But Patrick failed to mention that the deficit Bush left upon the conclusion of his term is less than a third of the current $1.3 trillion federal budget deficit under President Obama.
It could simply be very canny politics. Republicans find themselves in the role of the tightwad curmudgeon and no one likes a curmudgeon. Or it could be that Democrats largely ignore the country’s debt-laden balance sheet because they truly are unconcerned about it.
It’s in all likelihood some combination of the two. But the impression from last night in Charlotte leans decidedly toward the latter.