It's the Spending, Stupid
It's also the stupid spending. Here's George Will:
At the end of the Clinton administration, when the budget was balanced (largely by revenue generated by commercialization of the Internet), annual federal spending was $1.94 trillion and revenue was $2.10 trillion. “Adjusting for inflation and population growth since the start of 2001,” Dorfman writes, “today’s equivalents would be $2.77 trillion and $3.00 trillion,” and a $230 billion surplus.
What is to blame for today’s huge imbalance? The George W. Bush tax cuts? The recession? Obama’s spending? Dorfman answers yes, yes and yes — but that “spending is the main culprit” because: Today federal revenue is $2.67 trillion (slightly less than “the Clinton equivalent”) and spending is $3.76 trillion, so we are spending $987 billion more than we would be if we had just increased Bill Clinton’s last budget for inflation and population growth.
George W. Bush's "compassionate" "conservatism" really lifted the lid for what followed. The idea was for Republicans to spend like Democrats, only without all the nasty taxes. Tax & Borrow & Spend Democrats were replaced by Borrow & Borrow & Spend Republicans.
As soon as the Democrats returned to power, they could point to the awfulness of the Bush budgets. When they did that, they could (and did) say that Republicans didn't spend enough, which they'd always said before. This time, though, they were pointing to enormous GOP budget (which Democrats said were still too small) and to enormous GOP deficits (which Democrats had zero intention of shrinking).
They also got to point to the Bush tax rates and claim that "the rich" aren't paying "their fair share." I mean, just look at those huge deficits.
So when the Republicans tried to mount a defense, they looked like the Jacksonville Jaguars. But they have no one to blame but themselves, for following along with Bush's folly.