(FORT MYERS, Fla.) — Vice President Joe Biden placed the blame for the ballooning deficit on the Bush administration on Saturday, arguing that the previous administration saddled the country with the burden of trillions of dollars in debt.
“Let’s get serious here! How did we get this debt? Ladies and gentlemen, they put two wars on a credit card. Not paying a penny, not paying a penny, even though I introduced legislation to pay for that war. They voted against it,” Biden said at the Wa-Ke Hatchee Park Recreation Center. “Two, they voted for a new entitlement program without paying one penny for it, and that was clear. Number 3, they added another trillion dollars in the tax cut for the very wealthy, so what’s the result? These are the facts, folks, these are the facts.”
“The result was by the time the reins got turned back over to Barack [Obama] and me, they had doubled the national debt in eight years, doubled the national debt in eight years,” Biden added.
Biden recounted that within the first week of being in office, Larry Summers, a top economic adviser to the president, warned newly inaugurated President Obama of the deficit the country faced.
“We were sitting in the oval office, and Larry Summers, the chief economic adviser, and the economic team came in and said ‘Mr. President, looking at this year’s budget you are going to have a trillion dollar deficit.’ He said, ‘I haven’t done anything yet,’” Biden said. “I’m serious. They said, ‘No, Mr. President, the budget they passed, the budget they passed in October of last year guarantees no matter what you do you’re going to have a trillion dollar debt this year in the budget.’ A trillion dollar deficit to be precise.”
Earlier in the week, the Washington Post fact checked President Obama’s claim that the Bush administration’s policies accounted for 90 percent of the country’s current deficit and rated the assertion as false, since the president also pushed spending increases and tax cuts that added to the deficit.
Biden also claimed the Obama administration has proposed a plan that would reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over 10 years and has already decreased the deficit by $1 trillion
“We’ve already reduced the deficit. In four years, we’ll reduce it by another trillion dollars. Ladies and gentlemen look, there’s an easy way to do this. We have to make some difficult decisions. We’ve made them, but we’ve got to ask the very wealthy to pay more,” Biden said.
“President Obama and Vice President Biden have no credibility on reducing our national debt,” Amanda Henneberg, a spokeswoman for Romney, responded in a statement. “Over the last four years, the Obama-Biden team has presided over the largest increase in the national debt of any administration in history. And President Obama’s latest spending plan is riddled with accounting gimmicks and tax hikes, rather than policies that will get our long-term debt under control. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will take immediate steps to cut spending and put our nation on track toward a balanced budget.”
Biden mocked the GOP’s concern about the debt, saying, “I love how they bleed over the national debt,” but adding that Republicans would be unwilling to sign onto a deficit reduction plan that would promise $10 in cuts in spending in exchange for a dollar increase in revenue.
The vice president honed in on energy, touting the Obama administration’s work as well as highlighting what he believes is the GOP’s misunderstanding the role conservation plays in energy exploration and expansion.
“I love to hear them talk about their energy policy, which is ‘drill baby drill,’ right? OK, now let me say something about drilling. You all realize that there are more gas and oil rigs working today, pumping today, than all the rest of the rigs in the entire rest of the world. Do you know that? That’s a fact. That’s why we’re importing less than we have in decades, that’s why we’re in the position we’re moving in,” Biden said.
“Ladies and gentlemen, there is an exponential, exponential supply of natural gas done right and renewable energy that’s here in this country,” he said. “That’s why we doubled — and they voted against it — and Romney talked against it, we doubled the fuel economy standards for cars and trucks by 2025. That will save 12 billion barrels of oil over the period of time. I don’t know how they don’t think conservation is part of this. They, they sure don’t know it.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Tom LoBianco, Deirdre Walsh and Tal Kopan, CNN
Kevin Liptak, CNN
Stephen Collinson, CNN