Two frequently discussed vice presidential hopefuls for presidential candidate Mitt Romney are Rob Portman and Mitch Daniels. Both were the principle budget strategists for George W. Bush as heads of his Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels was head of OMB from 2001 to 2003; Ohio Senator Portman was OMB director from 2006 to 2007.
Daniels oversaw the post-9/11 invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq without raising taxes. He publicly estimated the cost of the Iraq war at $50 to $60 billion. A recent Brown University study has estimated the direct cost of the Iraq war at around $750 billion. Wikipedia says that on Daniels’ watch, the US went from a budget surplus of $236 billion to a deficit of $400 billion. Wikipedia says that on Portman’s watch the US public debt increased by $469 billion.
Both of these Republican budget directors follow in the footsteps of David Stockman, Reagan’s OMB chief from 1981 to 1985. Stockman successfully led the fight for Reagan’s huge tax cuts, but after cutting revenues, he was unsuccessful in cutting federal expenditures, thus beginning the series of huge budget deficits that persist to this day. Stockman doubled the national debt from $1 trillion to $2 trillion during his tenure. The current national debt is about $15.5 trillion.