The Truth-O-Meter Says:

"Let's not blame President Bush for all of this. We've got a Congress who sat around on their hands and done nothing but spend a lot of money ... leaving us $9-trillion in debt that we're passing on to our grandchildren."

Mike Huckabee on Wednesday, January 30th, 2008 in a debate in Simi Valley, Calif.

Congress delivered, but after Bush asked

Responding to a question about whether Americans are better off than they were eight years ago, Mike Huckabee tried to deflect some of the blame for the nation's economy away from President Bush and onto Congress, which he portrayed as fiscally reckless.

"We've got a Congress who sat around on their hands and done nothing but spend a lot of money and they're spending, leaving us $9-trillion in debt that we're passing on to our grandchildren," he said during a Jan. 30, 2008, Republican debate at the Ronald Reagan Library.

Huckabee is correct there is a $9-trillion debt — actually, it's $9.2-trillion — and that it will be left to future generations to repay. And he's right about federal spending; it rose a cumulative 53 percent between 2000 and 2007. Because taxes and other receipts didn't rise as fast, the debt soared.

But the former Arkansas governor overlooks the fact that President Bush asked for most of the changes that drove up spending, most notably the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts that were not fullly offset by spending cuts and the 2003 Medicare prescription drug bill, which drove up entitlement costs. There also were national security spending increases after 9/11 and the cost of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Republican-controlled Congresses delivered on each of these high-priority items, and Bush signed them into law. So at a minimum, the president and Congress share the blame for the fiscal policies Huckabee cites in the eight-year time frame. For that reason, we rate his statement Half True.

About this statement:

Published: Thursday, January 31st, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.

Subjects: Federal Budget


Fiscal 2008 federal budget, Historical tables

U.S. Department of Treasury, Current U.S. debt to the penny

CQ Weekly, "Democrats Blame GOP for Debt Limit Hike," by David Clarke, Oct. 1, 2007, p. 2858

Written by: Adriel Bettelheim
Researched by: Adriel Bettelheim
Edited by: Amy Hollyfield

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