Who Is Responsible For Our Debt The Deomcrats Or The Republicans?

If you say both are to blame for our enormous debt, you would, of course be right. But can we be more specific as to which Party carries the most blame? Yes we can thanks to the efforts of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

An interesting article at American Thinker helps to understand the time line of how our current debt came to be. Here are some excerpts:

In early 2001, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the USA will accumulate a total of $5.6 trillion in budget surpluses from 2002 through 2011, but the government instead racked up $6.2 trillion in new debt in this very time. This is an $11.8 trillion swing in a mere ten years.

The CBO works with numbers available at the time of the calculations without factoring in potential troubles such as a 9/11 Terror Attack, business corruption and so on. These eventualities were not considered when the agency projected the trillions in surpluses a decade ago. Regardless and for what it is worth, here is how the $12.03 trillion* turnaround happened according to the CBO (the numbers are approximate):

Oh how times change. From a projected surplus of  $5.6 trillion to an addition to our debt of $6.2 trillion ( see the footnote for an explanation of why the swing  is $12.o3 trillion rather than $11.8 trillion). any way you slice it that is one gigantic swing in our country’s fortune. Here is a short timeline of when the debt increases occurred:

  • 30.6% of the turnaround took place in the Bush Republican Years (2001 through 2006) with an annual average of $612 billion.
  • 15.2% took place in the Bush Democrat-controlled years (2007 and 2008) with an annual average of $914 billion.
  • 54.1% took place since Obama became President (in early 2009) with an annual average of $2.167 trillion.

And here is a further breakdown of the numbers:

  • $8.605 trillion of the $12.03 trillion* turnaround accrued due to Legislative changes such as new spending, new programs and the “cost” of tax cuts. The rest accrued due to economic and technical changes, such as recessions.
  • 20.3% ($1.750 trillion) of the $8.60 trillion Legislative Turnaround is due to the increased outlays and reduced income of the 2001, 2003, and 2004 Bush Tax Cuts of which billions went to expand the Child Tax Credits for the poor and reducing tax rates for the Middle Class.
  • 4.54% ($391 billion) of the $8.60 trillion Legislative Turnaround is due to the cost and reduced revenue of the 2010 Tax Act passed in the Lame Duck session.
  • 3.03% ($261 billion) of the $8.60 trillion Legislative Turnaround is due to tax changes of the American Recovery and Restoration Act (better known as The Stimulus).
  • Combining the “cost” of all tax changes since 2001 (including the 2001, 2003, 2004 Bush Tax Cuts for the rich, middle class, and the poor; the Stimulus and Lame Duck Session tax provisions), amounts to $2.402 trillion dollars; which is only 27.9% of the Surplus-to-Deficit swing that accrued due to Legislative Action through the last eleven years. Additionally, the $2.40 trillion is only twenty percent of the total Surplus-to-Deficit swing of since 2001.
  • Some Context: The total $2.402 trillion “cost” of all tax changes since 2001 (which includes changes for the poor, middle class and ‘95% of working Americans’ as Obama likes to say), amounts to an annual average “cost” of $218.45 billion, which is only 15.9% of the average annual $1.368 trillion deficits the US has in the last three budgets (2009, 2010 and 2011).
  • The Medicare Prescription Drug Program added $272 billion through 2011.

So, Mr. Obama, Mr. Reid, Ms. Pelosi and, Ms. Wasserman Schultz,  the next time you think about laying all of the blame for our debt at the feet Bush you might want to chew on the bitter fruit of facts first.

Well, that’s what I’m thinking. What are your thoughts?


*While the first budget of President Bush was FY 2002, he had an effect on FY 2001 which started just months before he became President. Similarly, the first budget year of the Democrat Congress was FY 2008, but Pelosi/Reid had an effect on the FY2007 budget. President Obama had an effect on the 2009 budget despite the fact that it started a few months before he came into office. Therefore, the above calculations actually run on an eleven year stretch with a surplus-to-deficit turnaround of $12.03 trillion. FY 2001 counts as the first of Bush’s six years, and 2009 counts as the first of the three Obama years. After all, Obama was a member of the Senate Majority since early 2007. It is therefore fair game to place it at his feet FY 2009 from its start).

26 thoughts on “Who Is Responsible For Our Debt The Deomcrats Or The Republicans?

  1. All of them, Washington DC, the Senate, the House, ALL of them, as well as We, The People for sitting on our apathetic asses and ALLOWING it to happen!

  2. I tend to judge the overall accuracy of what I read that I do not have first hand knowledge of based on how it compares with what I do know.

    Though I can tell there is general accuracy with some of the numbers I see, the number that jumped right out at me was the one saying that since Obama became President the debt has risen at “an annual average of $2.167 trillion”.

    I already know that number is way to high so I decided and re-calculate it accurately right here and now…

    On 1/20/2009, the day Barack Obama took office, the U.S. Treasury listed the national debt at $10,626,877,048,913.08.

    As of 7/26/2011 the Treasury lists the National Debt at $14,342,830,116,551.28

    In trillions the growth of the ND in the Obama era is…
    $14,342,830,116,551.28 – $10,626,877,048,913.08 = $3.72 trillion (rounded)

    Obama has been in office 30 months. However, over the last little over two months “extraordinary measures” have kept the debt from rising, so those two months are not included when calculating Obama’s annual average…

    It also gives the claimant the benefit of the doubt.

    In trillions…
    ($3.72/28) * 12 = $1.59 trillion annually

    The stated $2.167 trillion figure above is inflated by about 38% and just happens to better support the writer’s point of view.

    That is enough to describe it as… wrong.

    It calls into question the accuracy of the rest of the article.

    That is not to say the writer is entirely wrong. I do not believe he is.

    You don’t have to conduct much research to validate what we already know… Liberal Democrats tend toward spending more than conservative Republicans.

    The first line of your post, “If you say both are to blame for our enormous debt, you would, of course be right.”, says it all!

  3. Jim, I did some back-of-the-envelope calculations a few months ago, and I roughly assessed blame as follows: 40% Bush era, 40% Obama-era, 20% baby boom retirement. I’m sticking by those rough numbers.

      1. Hmmmm…
        The numbers I used for my calculation are THE numbers, the exact and correct numbers that come strait from the horse’s mouth, the U.S. Treasury. If their numbers are inaccurate then there are no correct numbers.

        I neither approximated nor assumed anything. I only applied subtraction, division and multiplication in a straightforward and obvious way that anyone can check for themselves.

        Unless I made a math error, which I didn’t, my result of $1.59 trillion for the average yearly real deficit under President Obama cannot be wrong.

        The $2.167 trillion figure has to be incorrect. If I saw how that figure was generated I’m pretty sure I could find where the author went off course.

      2. AZLeader, I’m not being critical of your methods. I approached the problem slightly differently. I took the 2008 budget (Bush’s last full-year budget that was passed and signed), and then accepted growth in SS and Medicare as non-partisan growth due in large part to the Baby boom retirement, When you do that, it accounts for about 60% of our current deficit. In other words, our deficit would be huge even if the 111th Congress hadn’t spent a single dime. They did, of course, and the numbers have been breathtakingly enormous. But i personally think it is unfair to place all of the blame on Pelosi and crew, when Republicans have done more than their fair share of mega-deficit spending.

      3. I also want to note that I do not acknowledge the “gross national debt” as a valid figure, as it includes phony :intragovernmental debt.” Because of screwy government accounting rules, we “pay off” debt when Social Security and Medicare pay out more than they bring in. In my humble opinion only publicly held debt matters.

  4. I think both parties are to blame, Bush was no fiscal conservative, but you cannot argue with the anount of spending the Democrats have done since they regained the Congress in 2006.

    1. Wow! That really is the better question, Barb. Thank you for putting the light where it should be focused. As to the last part of your question _ “…or will we be able to?”, that is the scariest part. I think it was NoOneOfAnyImport who mentioned in a comment that often times events take on a life of their own. Events may very well take on a life of their own. the fragile situation of Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain could bring the world economy at any moment. the unrest in the Middle East could boil out of control. Our own debt ceiling resolution may not satisfy the rating agencies and our credit rating could be downgraded. If one or more of these things should happen, it won’t matter what we do. so, tighten your seat belt, Barb. We cold be in for a very rough ride.

  5. Our current problems don’t really have to do with how much Bush or Obama added to the debt: it has to do with tipping points.
    To draw an analogy, if you double the dosage of Tylenol, it probably will not hurt you. However, if you are always taking a double dose, and then decide to double that yet again, it might actually kill you (Tylenol overdose is one of the most common causes of fatal poisoning in the US). The difference between being merely risky and being downright toxic is in this case quite small, which is one reason so many people overdose. This difference is the tipping point.
    With Obama, the US government debt reached a tipping point. Just like those people who overdose on Tylenol, he thinks that because a high dosage was safe, an even higher dosage will also be OK, but this is not true.

  6. Although I’d like for the problem to be repaired, I would prefer for the politicians not to dip into Social Security and Medicare to do it….I’d rather not have to choose between my food and my medication when I’m older, a little debt is preferable to that kind of situation.

    1. Welcome to Conservatives On Fire, Eurobrat. I’m afraid it is not a question of whether the politicians should reform Social Security and Medicare or not. The two programs are or very soon will bankrupt. These programs were never designed to be self sustaining. The politicians always new that these programs were really ponzi schemes but they continued year after year kicking the can down the road know that some future generation and some future politicians would eventually have to do something. That future generation unfortunately is yours and those future politicians are today’s politicians. The big con is over. I suppose they could triple the tax on your children to cover your Social Security and Medicare and they the could double it again on your grandchildren to cover the Social Security and Medicare for your children. That would be a terrible burden to put on your children and grandchildren, don’t you think? Reform, I’m afraid, is the only answer.

      1. It would be a terrible burden, but significantly decreasing the benefit cannot be the only option. A society has to provide retirement to its elderly, there’s no other way.

      2. There are various options be discussed that would continue to SS payments to those already receiving SS and would gradually enroll younger people into a different type of retirement annuity system that would be self sustaining and would be free from the sticky fingers of the government.

    1. Thanks for visiting Conservatives on Fire, Spread Eagle. Please come back often and join in the discussion.
      You are correct. We did elect these fools. I read on another blog recently an editorial from a European newspaper. The apparent perspective of Europeans is that Obama is a fool. But this doesn’t worry them because the damage he has done can be undone. What worries Europeans is what has happened to the American people and what does it mean for the future of America. They can’t understand how the American people could have elected such a fool to be their President. Food for thought, don’t you think?

      1. Hmmmmm…which European media source was this? I’m originally from Europe myself, and I can tell you that’s not the opinion I usually get from my European family and friends….if anything, I know more people in Europe who are weirded out by Americans being as conservative as they are.

  7. I just traveled tow and a half months in Europe going to 8 country’s. Everyone in Europe was for Obama to be elected. I never talked to one person that didn’t think he was the best for the USA.

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