Crossroads GPS: “No Clue”

An ad from Crossroads GPS nonsensically attacks New Mexico Senate candidate Rep. Martin Heinrich both for too much spending and for a vote that may result in spending cuts. In reality, it was the recession and policies like the Bush tax cuts – both rounds of which Heinrich’s opponent voted for – that drove up debt. The automatic spending cuts are looming thanks to Republicans’ refusal to compromise on deficit reduction; when Heinrich voted for the last-minute deal that imposed those cuts as an incentive for a super committee to find compromise on deficit reduction, his primary concern was raising the debt limit and avoiding the economic catastrophe that would have resulted from default.

Bush Policies And Recession Caused Debt To Skyrocket

Prior To President Obama’s Inauguration, President Bush Had Already Created A Projected $1.2 Trillion Deficit For Fiscal Year 2009. From the Washington Times:  “The Congressional Budget Office announced a projected fiscal 2009 deficit of $1.2 trillion even if Congress doesn’t enact any new programs. […] About the only person who was silent on the deficit projection was Mr. Bush, who took office facing a surplus but who saw spending balloon and the country notch the highest deficits on record.” [Washington Times1/8/09]

NYT: President Bush’s Policy Changes Created Much More Debt Than President Obama’s. The New York Times published the following chart comparing the fiscal impact of policies enacted under the Bush and Obama administrations:


[New York Times, 7/24/11]

Recession Added Hundreds Of Billions In Deficits By Increasing Spending On Safety Net While Shrinking Tax Revenue. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) explains: “When unemployment rises and incomes stagnate in a recession, the federal budget responds automatically: tax collections shrink, and spending goes up for programs like unemployment insurance, Social Security, and Food Stamps.” According to CBPP: “The recession battered the budget, driving down tax revenues and swelling outlays for unemployment insurance, food stamps, and other safety-net programs. Using CBO’s August 2008 projections as a benchmark, we calculate that the changed economic outlook alone accounts for over $400 billion of the deficit each year in 2009 through 2011 and slightly smaller amounts in subsequent years. Those effects persist; even in 2018, the deterioration in the economy since the summer of 2008 will account for over $300 billion in added deficits, much of it in the form of additional debt-service costs.” [, 11/18/10;, 5/10/11, citations removed]

Over The Coming Decade, The Bush Tax Cuts Are The Primary Cause Of Federal Budget Deficits. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities prepared a chart showing the deficit impact of the Bush tax cuts (orange), the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the recession itself, and spending to rescue the economy:


[, 5/10/11]

CBPP: Bush Tax Cuts And Wars Are Driving The Debt. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

The complementary chart, below, shows that the Bush-era tax cuts and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars — including their associated interest costs — account for almost half of the projected public debt in 2019 (measured as a share of the economy) if we continue current policies.


[Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 5/20/11]

  • Heinrich’s Opponent Voted For The 2001 Bush Tax Cuts. Rep. Heather Wilson voted “yea” on the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001. [H.R. 1836, Vote #149, 5/26/01]
  • Heinrich’s Opponent Voted For The 2003 Bush Tax Cuts. Rep. Heather Wilson voted “yea” on the Jobs and Growth Reconciliation Tax Act of 2003. [H.R. 2, Vote #225, 5/23/03]

Heinrich Supported Deal To Avoid Default But Wants To Avoid Sequestration

Heinrich Voted To Avoid Default But Wants To Find A Way To Avoid Sequestration. From the Albuquerque Journal: “The legislation referenced in the ad would not immediately eliminate jobs in New Mexico, but could result in job losses if Congress fails to reach a deficit-reduction deal by the end of the year, according to an analysis done at the University of New Mexico. The bill Heinrich voted for stemmed from a congressional stalemate in 2011 on increasing the nation’s debt limit and avoiding a default. The legislation adopted by Congress, which Heinrich supported, established so-called ‘sequestration’ rules that would reduce the federal deficit by $1.2 trillion in the absence of a broader budget deal. The cuts would apply to defense and nondefense spending over the next 10 years. Heinrich has said he hopes Congress can reach a deal to avoid sequestration and job cuts, but averting default on the federal debt and a national fiscal crisis was his overriding concern at the time of the vote. A federal analysis found that sequestration could cut nearly $400 million for nuclear work in New Mexico next year, including Sandia and Los Alamos national labs and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad. Lee Reynis, head of the University of New Mexico’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, conducted an analysis of the sequestration bill last year and found that, if enacted, the cuts could cost about 20,000 New Mexicans their jobs.” [Albuquerque Journal, 11/1/12]

The Federal Budget Control Act Was A Last-Minute Deal To Raise The Debt Ceiling That Also Created The Deficit Reduction Super Committee. From PolitiFact: “Last year, the United States government was reaching its legal debt limit, which meant Congress had to authorize a higher level for borrowing. Raising the debt limit (also called the debt ceiling) was in some ways symbolic: Congress has the power of the purse, and the decisions to spend the money had already been made. In prior administrations, Congress approved higher debt limits with some partisan sniping (including from then-Sen. Obama against President George W. Bush) but without too much fuss. But in the summer of 2011, House Republicans insisted that actual spending cuts go along with an increase to the debt limit. House Speaker John Boehner led negotiations with the Obama White House, and at first the two sides seemed to be moving toward a wide-ranging overhaul of the federal budget, referred to in the media as a ‘grand bargain.’ The closed-door negotiations fell apart, though. […] Republicans and Democrats came to a less ambitious agreement to raise the debt limit through the Budget Control Act of 2011. The law found approximately $1.2 trillion in budget cuts spread over 10 years. But it also directed Congress to find another $1.2 trillion through a Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. This 12-member committee became known as ‘the super-committee.’” [, 9/21/12]

  • Debt Ceiling Deal Imposed Harsh Defense Cuts Triggered By Super Committee’s Failure As Incentive For Success. From the Associated Press: “The deal between House Republicans, the Democratic-controlled Senate and the OK of the White House, came hours before the deadline for raising the amount of money the government can borrow. As an incentive, the agreement prescribes draconian cuts both parties would find unpalatable — $487 billion to defense over 10 years plus $492 billion in automatic cuts if a bipartisan congressional ‘super committee’ [failed to come up] with $1.2 trillion in savings. The committee failed.” [Associated Press via, 7/24/12]
  • Failure To Raise Debt Ceiling Could Have Resulted In Default Or Had Other Severe Economic Consequences. From CNNMoney: “A failure to raise the debt ceiling would likely send shockwaves through the underpinnings of the financial system — and possibly ripple out to individual investors and consumers. The federal government would be forced to prioritize its payments. It would risk defaulting on its financial obligations. And if that happens, credit rating agencies would downgrade U.S. debt.” [, 7/21/11]

The Deficit Panel Failed Because Conservative Lawmakers Refused To Compromise

Deficit-Reduction Committee Failed After Republican Members Refused To Budge On Tax Cuts For The Wealthiest Americans. According to the Los Angeles Times: “The committee faced a Wednesday deadline to vote on a proposal to slash the nation’s deficits by $1.5 trillion over the decade. The panel that was brought into existence as a result of the summer debt ceiling fight spent three months in mostly secret negotiations. A deal needed to be posted by Monday evening to provide a 48-hour review. But Republicans and Democrats were unable to compromise on the tax and spending issues that have divided Congress all year, punting the debate to next year’s presidential and congressional campaigns. Republicans refused to substantially raise taxes and wanted to cut federal deficits largely by reducing spending on Medicare and other domestic programs. Democrats wanted a more equal balance of new taxes and spending cuts — a level of taxation the GOP could not accept. A focal point in final days became the George W. Bush-era tax cuts, which are scheduled to expire in December 2012. Republicans wanted to extend those tax breaks for the wealthy and other Americans, rather than carve into that source of new revenue. Most Republican members of Congress have signed an anti-tax pledge with conservative activist Grover Norquist, and were hesitant to agree to new taxes. [Los Angeles Times11/21/11]

[NARRATOR:] Martin Heinrich. For years he’s spent us trillions deeper in debt. Instead of fixing the problem, Heinrich voted for deep automatic cuts that could cost New Mexico 20,000 jobs, cutting $400 million from Los Alamos and Sandia, cuts to public education and child assistance, even cutting training programs for workers who lose their jobs. New Mexico can’t afford Heinrich’s reckless spending and risky cuts. Crossroads GPS is responsible for the content of this advertising. [Crossroads GPS via, 10/31/12]