Around 4 p.m. today the Treasury Department released new figures showing the federal debt had climbed to more than $16 trillion. The news was expected, and Republicans were ready.
By 4:17, Speaker John Boehner’s office had sent reporters a statement ripping President Barack Obama for engaging in a “‘stimulus’-fueled spending binge” that piled up the red ink.
At 4:20, the Republican National Committee released a research piece detailing Obama’s record on the debt and then, at 4:32, announced a new advertisement, already cut and edited in anticipation of the moment.
Other releases echoed the attacks, marking a coordinated shot across the bow that came at a propitious moment for the GOP — the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
Democrats said Republicans were to blame for the debt, not Obama.
“Paul Ryan and John Boehner should look at that debt clock and say, ‘We built that.’ Paul Ryan and John Boehner supported the policies that blew the deficit out of control and are piling up our debt: two unfunded wars, tax breaks for the wealthy gone wild and an unpaid-for prescription drug benefit. When Boehner and Ryan look at the debt clock, they should hang their heads in shame,” said Brad Woodhouse, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.