At work for new boss, Fox News, Rove understated debt run up by old boss, Bush

››› ››› NATHAN TABAK

On Fox & Friends Saturday, Karl Rove understated the debt run up by George W. Bush, asserting that there were only "$2.9 trillion in deficits under eight years of Bush." However, the national debt increased by nearly $4.9 trillion during the eight years Bush was in office. Rove's $2.9 trillion figure apparently refers only to "on-budget" deficits, thereby excluding emergency supplemental spending bills used to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Hurricane Katrina relief, and any other "off-budget" spending.

In a March 21 appearance on Fox News' Fox & Friends Saturday, Fox News contributor and former Bush White House senior adviser Karl Rove understated the debt run up by his former boss, asserting that there were only "$2.9 trillion in deficits under eight years of [George W.] Bush." However, according to the Treasury Department, the national debt increased by nearly $4.9 trillion during the eight years Bush was in office, from $5,728,195,796,181.57 on January 22, 2001, to $10,626,877,048,913.08 on January 20, 2009. Rove's $2.9 trillion figure apparently refers only to "on-budget" deficits, thereby excluding emergency supplemental spending bills used to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Hurricane Katrina relief, and any other "off-budget" spending.

Rove has touted the $2.9 trillion figure in his last three weekly Wall Street Journal columns, as well as in a March 1 appearance on ABC's This Week. Two of those instances were particularly egregious, as Rove suggested the $2.9 trillion figure was low given the need to fund the wars and hurricane relief -- when, in fact, emergency supplemental spending on those issues is not included in the $2.9 trillion figure. In his March 5 column, Rove asserted: "Mr. Obama cannot dismiss critics by pointing to President George W. Bush's decision to run $2.9 trillion in deficits while fighting two wars and dealing with 9/11 and Katrina." On This Week, Rove similarly purported to rebut the "suggest[ion] that adding $2.9 trillion to the deficit in eight years with two wars, Katrina, 9-11, and a tech bubble bursting makes us somehow -- the Republicans unable to talk about fiscal responsibility."

During the Fox News discussion, Rove also falsely claimed that President Obama has "call[ed] for government-run health care." In fact, as Media Matters for America has noted, the White House health-care Web page states: "On health care reform, the American people are too often offered two extremes -- government-run health care with higher taxes or letting the insurance companies operate without rules. President Obama and Vice President Biden believe both of these extremes are wrong."

From the March 21 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends Saturday:

ALISYN CAMEROTA (co-host): Karl, is some of this the naïveté of the campaign trail? Do all presidents fall into this trap where they promise the world on the campaign trail, and then they get to Washington -- and it seems as though President Obama is realizing that Washington is harder to change than he anticipated.

ROVE: Well, it is easier to run a campaign than it is to govern, but I think this is more than that. Because most of the time, what we find is, is that people, they get in office and they're going in the same direction and they find they can't go as far as they want to go. In this instance, we've got: "I'm gonna stop earmarks, and I'm gonna wave 'em through. I'm gonna decry $2.9 trillion in deficits under eight years of Bush, and I'm gonna turn around and propose $9 trillion dollars of deficits over the next 10 years. I'm gonna say that government-run health care in the campaign is extreme, and when I get into office, I'm gonna call for government-run health care."

I mean, these aren't issues where President Obama has gotten into office and found that things are harder to do than he wanted to get done, so he's going to have to go in the same direction he wants to go but a slower pace and it's gonna take longer. These are instances where he said one thing on the campaign trail and is going in the opposite direction once he gets in.

DAVE BRIGGS (co-host): Speaking of going the opposite direction, we wanted to ask you about some interesting numbers that you found, where now 15 percent of our country says that they don't identify themselves with any particular religion.

Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel, Wall Street Journal, ABC
Person
Karl Rove
Show/Publication
This Week, Fox & Friends Saturday
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