Over the past two weeks, the Obama teleprompter has repeatedly hit on a new phrase - the Bush recession. While the former President was complicit in some wanton spending during his final two years in office, in particular, the disastrous TARP bailout, the fact is he simply could not have done it without the Democrat majority in Congress. People tend to forget that the outnumbered Republicans in Congress fervently opposed the TARP bailout.
When Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid assumed control of both houses of Congress in January 2007, our unemployment rate was 4.6 percent and the national debt was $8.6 trillion. In just 42 months, the unemployment rate has doubled and the national debt has surged to over $13 trillion. In just four years, the Democrats in Congress have increased our debt by more than half of the enitre history of this country. When Pelosi and Reid assumed their leadership positions, this nation's debt was 62% of gross domestic product. By next year, our debt will be a full 100% of GDP.
As the tragic results of the current administration's economic policies become increasingly indefensible, Mr. Obama has had little choice but to desperately cast blame on his predecessor. "In the last six months of 2008 alone, 3 million Americans lost their jobs," Obama told supporters in a speech in Detroit on Thursday. "They have not come up with a single, solitary idea that is any different from the policies of George W. Bush, the policies that they had in place for eight years before we had a crisis," the President continued. "What they are betting on is amnesia. They are betting that you don't remember that they were in charge all this time."
Of course, the truth is that Democrats controlled both houses of Congress throughout all of 2007 and 2008 with ruinous consequences to our economy. But Obama's invocation of Bush is a shrewd strategy that may resonate with some who are not paying attention. Thus, it is incumbent upon Republican candidates to avoid the pitfalls of the Bush vs. Obama argument. It is of paramount importance that GOP leaders remind voters that we have endured a Democrat Congress since 2006 and the consequences we are now suffering are the result of four years of unfettered liberalism, not just the Obama tenure.
Republican candidates must recognize that President Obama remains a very likeable figure to many Americans, particularly to those who are incognizant of the reasons for our nation's inability to emerge from its economic hardships. Victories will not be achieved in November by engaging this President on a personal level. However, Republican Congressional candidates will easily prevail by focusing on principled conservatism and reminding voters over and over that our economic decline began four years ago.