The Obama campaign has already tried blaming the Bush tax cuts for the recession. Last night, Biden tossed added Iraq, Afghanistan, and Medicare Part D to the list.
With its heavy focus on foreign affairs, last night's vice presidential debate didn't break a whole lot of new ground on economic policy. But amid the retreads of arguments we've been hearing for much of the campaign, there was one truly strange nugget from Joe Biden. Apparently, Medicare Part D caused the financial crisis...or something:
And, by the way, they talk about this Great Recession [as] if it fell out of the sky, like, "Oh, my goodness, where did it come from?" It came from this man voting to put two wars on a credit card, to at the same time put a prescription drug benefit on the credit card, a trillion-dollar tax cut for the very wealthy. I was there. I voted against them. I said, no, we can't afford that.
As Biden himself might say, malarkey.
I'm not sure whether the vice president really thinks you can draw a straight line from the Bush deficits to the housing bubble and collapse, but that's what he appears to be doing. Perhaps he got a little ahead of himself and started combining talking points: you can criticize the last administration for being lax on regulation, and you can criticize its fiscal recklessness. You can even combine them into a grand narrative of economic mismanagement, and one can certainly argue that growing the national debt during the the good-ish years made it much harder to respond effectively when the crisis did come. Still, it's really odd to pin the recession on size of the government's credit card tab.