And, you know, I love my dear friend talking about, you know, fiscal responsibility, but when George Bush came to office, he had a $236 billion surplus. Barack Obama was handed a $1.3 trillion deficit. He was handed an economy that was almost on the verge of depression. He was handed financial institutions that went wild during the eight years that Republicans controlled and ultimately were on the verge of collapse and would have created a major calamity for people across this country.
So the bottom line is -- and since the president came, after having inherited all of those realties and trying to meet those challenges head on and having to spend so that we could stop the economy from going into depression, be able to start moving the economy in the right direction, meet the challenges of the abyss that we were almost in, all our Republican colleagues have said is no.
They have used the filibuster, a procedure in the Senate, to stop progress 101 times, unprecedented in the history of the United States Senate. So I hope that they understand that they have as much responsibility to help us govern and move forward. "No" doesn't create a job. "No" doesn't create health care insurance for anyone or, for that fact, stop the abuses of the insurance company. "No" doesn't help a senior citizen with their prescription drug coverage. It's time to begin to say "yes" to move the country forward.
MORAN: OK, let me just follow up. You gave a very eloquent description of the situation when Barack Obama became president and the anxiety in the country, but what did he choose to do? He spent eight months on health care, which people ended up not understanding and certainly not approving.
MENENDEZ: Well, no...
MORAN: Was that a mistake? Let me just ask you, yes or no, was it a mistake for the president to do that?
MENENDEZ: First of all, let's look at what happened last year. People forget. It's amazing how quickly -- just as people forget what Barack Obama inherited and the enormous economic consequences and spending on the Republicans, two wars totally unpaid for, credit card mentality, putting it on our kids' future, a Medicare Part D program totally unpaid for, tax cuts for the wealthy, totally unpaid for.
But, you know, the bottom line is, he passed a stimulus package to stop the nation from going into a deep depression. He succeeded at that. An omnibus bill to create new, high-energy jobs that we are moving towards...
MORAN: All right. So health care was the right thing to do, in your judgment?
MENENDEZ: No, and health care is an economic issue, as well.
MORAN: All right. All right. Fair enough.
MENENDEZ: If you're a family without health insurance and you get sick, you can be in bankruptcy. If you're a family with health insurance and you see the skyrocketing costs that Republicans have permitted over their years of double-digit premium increases, you can't afford it. And if you're a senior who is trying to be able to do what your prescription drug coverage and have that gap that they created, then you need to fill it. So this is what we're trying to meet.
MORAN: OK. Senator DeMint, that was quite an indictment. I've got to tell you, I don't hear much bipartisanship here, but fire away.