TAMPA, Fla. -- One of the only pieces of business conducted on the first, storm-shortened day of the Republican National Convention was the unveiling of a debt clock. Two, actually -- one to show where the national debt tally is and another showing how much would be added during the course of the four-day event.
It’s unlikely Democrats will have their own such display when they gather next week in Charlotte, N.C. But the quickly-changing digits might well figure prominently there too, considering an inauspicious milestone that looms: At its current rate, the debt could top $16 trillion sometime next week, at least by the RNC’s tally.
When Mitt Romney tapped the chairman of the House Budget Committee as his running mate, it put the issue of debt and deficits at the forefront of a campaign that had been waged on the topic of the economy more generally. It’s an issue that had long been a favorite of conservatives.
The Obama campaign isn’t shirking a fight on the debt, even if it’s an issue it tends to discuss only in a reaction-mode way. In anticipation of Ryan’s speech, committee counterpart Rep. Chris Van Hollen pointed out that the House Republican budget Ryan authored would make no short-term dent in deficit spending. And he said Ryan was party to policies under President George W. Bush that turned a Clinton surplus into deficits.