AP News
Posted: Sep 05, 2012 9:55 PM

Chris Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, is borrowing themes from last week's Republican National Convention to needle Paul Ryan, the budget panel's chairman and the GOP's vice presidential candidate.

"The Republicans had this gigantic clock in the arena showing the size of the national debt," Van Hollen says. "Paul told America, 'If you elect Republicans, we can fix that.' But if Paul Ryan was being honest, he would have pointed to that debt clock and said: 'We built that.'"

Van Hollen says the Republicans, under President George W. Bush, racked up trillions of dollars in debt by putting the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, tax cuts and a new entitlement program for seniors on the nation's credit card.

"Republicans didn't pay for any of it," Van Hollen says. "Paul Ryan voted for all of it."

The national debt was $5.7 trillion when President Bill Clinton left office in January 2001 and it grew to $10.6 trillion under Bush. It has surpassed $16 trillion under Obama, an increase that has fueled Republican claims that Americans are not better off than they were four years ago.

— Richard Lardner — Twitter


EDITOR'S NOTE — Convention Watch shows you the 2012 political conventions through the eyes of Associated Press journalists. Follow them on Twitter where available with the handles listed after each item.