I have been very critical of Obama for following Bush’s bankster bailout policies. And I thought his reliance on Robert Rubin & the RR Choir (Summers, Geithner, et. al) was ill advised.

But I don’t understand those on the far right who seem to believe that deficits were created on January 20th, 2009.

Consider this chart — it shows the National Debt as a percentage of GDP. Its pretty telling:


National Debt Graph

click for larger chart

Chart courtesy of zFacts.com

See also
Government debt explosion hits turning point

Category: Politics, Taxes and Policy

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

57 Responses to “National Debt by President”

  1. VennData says:

    Pick up a mop

    ‘[W]e got our mops and our brooms out, we’re cleaning stuff out, and [Republicans are] sitting there saying, ‘Hold the broom better.’ (Laughter.) ‘That’s not how you mop.’ (Laughter.) Don’t tell me how to mop. Pick up a mop! … But that wasn’t their strategy; it was not their strategy from day one. And I’m not making this up. This is public record. They’ve said in interviews: We made a political decision. We stood nothing to gain from cooperating. We knew things were going to be bad. And we figured, if we didn’t do anything and if it didn’t work out so well, maybe the other side would take the blame. They’ve done their best to gum up the works; to make things look broken; to say no to every single thing. … So after they drove the car into the ditch, made it as difficult as possible for us to pull it back, now they want the keys back. (Laughter.) No! (Laughter and applause.) You can’t drive! (Applause.).’ – President Obama.


  2. It’s not what the right wingers believe.

    It that they are able to sell it to a gullible public, as the lefties sit there and take it. They do not fight back. i cannot stand that.

  3. So one side is ideologically incompetent, married to either outmoded or disproven beliefs.

    The other side is a structural mess, comprised of myriad unrelated and sometimes contradictory factions, with little in the way of a killer instinct or the desire to fight the man or the power.

    Pathetic. And people ask me why I am an independent . . .

  4. Tezzer says:

    I’m curious, and not sure where to find data to support or refute this: How much of the Clinton-era reduction evident on this chart was a result of booming .com era increase in GDP?

    It’s sad to see modern republicans abandoned any pretense of fiscal responsibility. Was it mostly to fight the cold war, then a couple of ill-advised hot wars?

  5. NotQuiteSo says:

    I was mystified by the right’s embrace of Bush II. Tariffs, corporate welfare, vastly expanded domestic discretionary spending, and rising deficits do not a conservative make. But conservatives have a point that, well, this time it’s different – deficits as a percent of GDP are at WWII-era levels, and are projected to keep growing, and accelerating, for as far as we can reasonably project. And unlike post-WWII, we’re not 50% of global GDP any more, and we’re unlikely to grow our way out of this mess. Obama’s fault? Not wholly, not at all, but partly. He’s flying in Air Force One, though.

  6. ubnutsagain says:

    As Paul Harvey would say … “Now for the rest of the story”.

    Howzabout a graph that shows the size of each President’s annual proposed and actual budget deficits or excess by year, then cumulatively throughout his presidency, and then the average of all his years.

    Adjust it for inflation to level the playing field, and then let’s see how the picture looks.

    My guess: BO, Reagan/Bush, and GW Bush – in that order will look lousy, while Clinton will shine.

    Then the question for each administration is: Why? What were the conditions influencing the results.

    Absent that, BR, your chart smacks of political hackness.

  7. JSchmid says:

    Does the graph include the 6.3 Trillion Dollars of debt from Fannie and Freddie that the US government is refusing to include on their balance sheet even though they are government run entities?

  8. JSchmid says:

    Does the graph also include the unfunded liabilities that total $60 trillion?
    With it all our debt is $79 Trillion which is over 5x GDP!

  9. mbelardes says:

    WWII Deficits = Beat Germany/Japan and become dominant world power.

    Reagan/Bush I Deficits = “Win” cold war and kicked off tech boom (I guess)

    Bush II Deficits = ??? War and … War … and uh … spy on our people … uh … tax cuts for … err .. subprime …

    I’m “conservative” I guess, but I really don’t understand the GOP. Dubya ran up deficits and has zero to show for it (arguably, less than zero).

    Obama is continuing on a dangerous path, but he had little choice and the deficit spending has “helped” our economy (though I think there were more effective ways to do it, manhattan project for alternative energy being one of them).

    A critique of “liberal” talking points (Paul Krugman) though, our current deficits keep getting dismissed as not a concern because “we had worse deficits after WWII!” Anyone thinking the Global Economy is like the 1945 Global Economy is out of their mind. Analyzing the deficit today in the context of the 1950′s is ignoring quite a bit of data changes as a result of globalization that are unlikely to reverse or repeat.

  10. ecdrva says:

    I’m not sure how this can tell us anything about Obama one way or the other.
    Look at the top right of the chart… “Through February 27, 2009″…

  11. Cynic_FA says:

    Shocking Chart – when you realize that Debt/GDP declined under LBJ and throughout the 1970′s. The LBJ Great Society Programs included Medicare, Medicaid, and the War on Poverty. The policies have been referred to as “Guns and Butter” and the spending surge was blamed for the runaway inflation of the 1970′s.

    The policies of George W. Bush should be referred to as “Guns and Tax Cuts” the deficits incurred to implement massive tax cuts and borrow to pay for two wars has weakened our economy. We are vulnerable to the Chineese and the other holders of our national debt.

    Now I need to disagree with Barry for giving Obama and our profligate spending congress a pass on massive deficits. It is true that George the II put America back on the high speed deficit train. But the $800 Billion pork bill (stimulus for union workers) and a return to “Guns & Butter” with “Free” medical care for all is a big acceleration into the deficit abyss. Draw the chart out to 2014 and you will see Debt/GDP up over 100% again for the first time since Truman.

    We watch the Greeks rioting in the streets over budget discipline and we laugh. How will Americans react when we cut Federal and State spending by 10% to reduce the deficit? Obama Deficit, California Deficit, Hometown USA deficit … it’s all Greek to me!!!!!!!!!

  12. MaxLdaMan says:

    What’s really sad is that the Dems are too thick to nail the Reps to the wall on this, in fact it’s the other way around – the Reps nail the Dems as ‘tax and spend’, and the Dems are too thick to be able to rebut such a ridiculous charge.

  13. DRoiXVI says:


    Government spending rose steadily from about 1.37T in ’92 to 1.78T in 2000. Revenues grew steadily also.
    1.1T in ’92 to 2.0T in 2000. Clinton did nothing to decrease his spending. Dot.com bubble seems to have had a greater effect on ratios.

  14. quidite1 says:

    I agree with mbelardes.

    I think the Reagan-Bush I increase in debt must be seen within the context of the arms build up that defeated the Soviet Union. As the liberal historian John Patrick Diggins said, “Since the era of Washington and Adams, Reagan was the only president to have resolved a sustained, deadly conflict without going to war.”

    The Reagan-Bush I debt should be seen as akin to the debt that FDR racked up to win WWII. It was necessary WARTIME debt. And Clinton plays the part of Truman in bringing the debt down after that major victory.

    Ridding the world of the Soviet Union and freeing half of Europe without firing a shot was undoubtedly worth the debt incurred.

    The debt and deficits of Bush II and Obama, on the other hand, are not so excusable.

  15. benesposito says:

    Both parties increase spending to further their own agendas, and gain support.

    Modern conservatives (trickle down) reduce taxes claiming growth will make up the lost revenue, but it never does.

    Dems: Increase spending, increase or restore cut taxes.
    Republicans: Increase spending, decrease taxes.

    Which is why the trend shown here is true in many other countries as well.

  16. Futures05 says:

    Doesn’t congress hold the purse strings?
    I just saying , all the politicians in Washington are to blame, both parties have adopted the tax and spend minds set.
    In a way they are like traders at Lehman or Citi, “don’t worry, it’s not my money”.

  17. DeDude says:

    I give credit to all those presidents after WWII (to and including Carter), for making sure to reduce the debt/GDP. Pretty obvious to see when the trickle down insanity began and what its “tax-cut-and-spend-your-children’s-money” policies did. Bush I should get credit for doing the right thing and bending the curve (at the cost of a second term), without that Clinton would not have gone on to actually reduce the debt/GDP ratio. And off course Bush II should be spanked for repeating the Reagan disaster, rather than continuing the Clinton success. Handling the great recession would have been so much easier if we had been below 50% rather than above 65% when it started.

  18. Cynic_FA says:


    How about another chart for stock market performance by president. I had Republican clients seroiusly clammoring to sell out their portfolios because Obama was going to win the election. I try to remind them that the four worst stocks markets I can think of belong to Hoover, Nixon, And George W. Bush for 2. Bush blessed us with a market crash coming (2001-2002) and going(2008)

    I propose we rewrite the history books and cast out George W. Bush from the Republican party. Never let it be said that the shameful deficit spending in the chart above and the nearly 40% negative return for eight years of the Bush II presidency were in any way associated with with the GOP.

    We will have to create a new fictitious party the Dubya Party to carry the stigma. The core platform policies of the Dubya Party are no taxes for the wealthy (especially if they die in 2010), no regulation, no moral compass for business or politicians, full employment ( if you run a government debt printing press), and endless no bid contracts for big oil and the military-industrial complex. A hidden platform item is the Ginormous Bonus and Dubya Put promise to bankster. Don’t worry be happy, if you really screw the pooch the Dubya Party will prop up you bank and make sure you still get that big fat bonus.

    If I am elected as the next president for the Dubya Party I will stack the Supreme Court and make all corporate payoffs to politicians legal (no reason to pretend they are just campaign contributions) and 100% tax deductible.

  19. The Curmudgeon says:

    It (the chart) should go back a few more years. To about 1835. When the federal debt of the United States of America was, for the only time in its history, zero. I’m a Jacksonian Democrat.

  20. Fred says:

    While I agree that both Bushs and now Obama have been disasters, we should not forget that Bill Clinton had no interest in controlling government spending. Spending went down due to gridlock between Bill Clinton and the Gingrich Congress. Where is a good blowjob when we need one?

  21. R. Cain says:

    Reaganomics = trickle-down economics

    a.k.a. the horse-and-sparrow theory:

    The less than elegant metaphor that if one feeds the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows.
    John Kenneth Galbraith

    US gov debt as % GDP

  22. Greg0658 says:

    again .. its what are you getting for the debt .. or whats the GDP producing .. post WWII and remnant wars bringing the MIC down to resized contentness without stoppage .. we get the 3Mile Island and the start of the middle east gas wars .. ie spending on remdeling not real new growth .. then with a strong union coalition the business sector needs them whittled down for world rebuilding since the USA can’t stay as dominant wage standard and have world growth .. cue Henry Ford quotes in head .. Clinton years sees Wal*Mart chain growth and GDP for everyone else as the factories are built around the world .. cue the Bush II years of more destroy stuff for sales .. ie ditto not real new growth .. and here we are with Obama fighting the tape and their pushers for the general populace to keep their stuff instead of the repo-man .. we have a mess thats just gotta break for people to wake up and smell the something in the air .. its disunion and every man family community state country industry corportation government for themselves

  23. NormanB says:

    BR: Increase your ‘understanding’ by showing the CBO’s projection of the deficits. The Dems and Obama have thrown away about 10% of GDP on brand spanking new ‘stimulus’ (we don’t say ‘spending’ any more, haven’t you heard?) which is a total waste plus the new spending on health care and the resultant government inefficiencies that will cause even more damage. Gov’t spending as a % of GDP is set to go to 25% from the long term average of 20%.

    Barry, old boy, your hatred of Bush and starry-eyed love for Obama are showing through. Go back to top-down analysis.

  24. DeDude says:

    “as the lefties sit there and take it. They do not fight back”

    Actually they do, but since the corporate media does not cover it, the perception is that they don’t. Corporate media deliberately avoid inviting well spoken and “sharp” lefties, and instead find some dum-bum to present the left in their “fair-and-balanced” farces.

    “How much of the Clinton-era reduction evident on this chart was a result of booming .com era increase in GDP”

    Clinton did create a better economy with solid economic growth. But he also cut the deficit to the point of having an actual surplus.

  25. swfl says:

    @ecdrva “I’m not sure how this can tell us anything about Obama one way or the other.
    Look at the top right of the chart… “Through February 27, 2009″…”


  26. pleasedont says:

    The joke is on you.

    “Through February 27, 2009″

    “But I don’t understand those on the far right who seem to believe that deficits were created on January 20th, 2009.”

    I don’t understand those on the left who think deficits ended January 20, 2009 (BO inauguration date).

    I hope you update the post with a note explaining that the as-of date is 5 weeks after inauguration.

    Fort the record, W’s record for his first 5 weeks looks like a negative slope.


  27. Greg0658 says:

    pssst – wonder if folks will be happy when the only union jobs (old world American standard living wage) make MIC instruments and operate the police/fire and law making offices?

  28. DL says:

    One should also consider the DEFICIT as a percentage of GDP.

    Furthermore, I see a huge difference between deficits that result from tax cuts, and deficits that result from throwing money down a black hole.

    I realize, however, that most people here would just LOVE to see marginal tax rates increased.

  29. socaljoe says:

    It’s more a reflection of GDP growth than debt growth. Don’t forget about GSE off balance debt growth. It’s all insignificant compared to growth in unfunded liabilities.

  30. crankitto11 says:

    Awesome graph, Barry.

    Republican Supply Siders have always claimed that if the government cut taxes, then the resulting boost to economic activity would more than make up for any tax deficits in the short run. This proves the utter falsity of that theory. It would be interesting to know what portion of the increase in the deficit was due to decreased revenues from tax cuts, and what portion from increased expenditures on defense related initiatives during the Reagan/Bush/Bush administrations.

    Another eye-opener is that the debt to GDP ratio actually significantly declined during the 1960s, which has always been portrayed as the era of out of control government spending due to the Great Society social programs and the Vietnam War.

    I share the frustration of other posters with the inability of Democrats to capitalize on these important facts.

  31. basquebob says:

    Barry, by reading some of the comments here I guess some people missed or didn’t check out ypur post yesterday on cognitive biases http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2010/05/the-field-guide-to-cognitive-biases/ and want us to make judgements on things that haven’t happened yet and might or might not happen or even ask you transform the data so it fits their bias. Geezuz!

    @The Curmudgeon – the debt in 1835 was $0, how did that work out? Panic of 1837 and 5 years of depresion after that. Here is some intersting reading http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2010/05/galbraith_the_danger_posed_by.html

  32. Tarkus says:

    Who eliminated “Pay-Go”? Why did they do it?

  33. franklin411 says:

    Interesting how the national debt soared as worker pay shrank. Who says we don’t have slavery in America? Instead of requiring that slave owners pay for their slave’s medical care, housing, and food, we require that the taxpayers provide these services on behalf of mega-employers of unskilled, underpaid labor like Wal-Mart.

  34. Hit the Reset button says:

    Looks like its going parabolic under BO

  35. HoldYourHorses says:

    Debt/GDP ration shows your ability to pay, yet we’ve shown absolutely no willingness to do so. Over the last 3 decades we’ve taken on larger and larger debt load and politics seems to have no bearing on fiscal irresponsibility.

    Are we such dumb voters that this is solely the result of our desire for services without taxes to pay for them? Can China be blamed for making it too easy for us to sell our debt when they hold just under a 1/4 of our debt? Isn’t China a recent phenomenon? What is the economic reason we keep expanding our debt, and why is it still so easy for us to do so?

  36. Expat says:

    No, no. You’re missing the whole point. You see, Obama is a Democrat so that means his deficits are bad. Bush’s deficits were good. And Clinton? Fuggedaboutit. He was a Democrat so his reducing the deficit was bad. Jeez, what are you? French or something?

    Personally, I think we should see just how high we can get the deficit before everything blows up. Seriously, there is no way in hell we will ever reduce it enough to matter, and it will loom like the proverbial sword of Damocles over our heads until it is gone. So rather than shrink it, let’s just blow it up. Let it get so frickin’ huge that it becomes silly, so silly that we can just declare it ridiculous and then simply cancel it. Ha ha ha! Not for nothing did I get an MA in economics (they even called it a “science”).

  37. Casual Onlooker says:

    @BR stated…

    “But I don’t understand those on the far right who seem to believe that deficits were created on January 20th, 2009.”

    Sadly it’s really not that hard to understand. It’s a strong -emotional- argument, facts be damned. When people feel disaffected and powerless they want a target. “The government is overspending, therefore I have no money” argument resonates well.

    Trying to argue with facts against a strongly held emotional argument is a tough thing to do. Consider this bit from an article in “New Scientist” http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20627606.100-living-in-denial-why-sensible-people-reject-the-truth.html?full=true

    “The conservative character of much denial may also explain its success at winning hearts and minds.”

    “George Lakoff, a cognitive psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, argues that conservatives have been better than progressives at exploiting anecdote and emotion to win arguments. Progressives tend to think that giving people the facts and figures will inevitably lead them to the right conclusions. They see anecdotes as inadmissible evidence, and appeals to emotion as wrong.”

  38. Kimble says:

    “George Lakoff, a cognitive psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, argues that conservatives have been better than progressives at exploiting anecdote and emotion to win arguments. Progressives tend to think that giving people the facts and figures will inevitably lead them to the right conclusions. They see anecdotes as inadmissible evidence, and appeals to emotion as wrong.”

    LOLZ, thats certainly true of the global warming non-debate. All the black hat conservatives are using emotional language to fool the world, but the white hat progressives are using actual facts, not made up ones. The progressives did not use a decade of scare stories to sway the populace. O RLY?

    For decades progressives have tried to explain conservatism as some sort of psychological disorder. And then they wonder why conservatives call progressives arrogant wankers!

    Lolz 2 at everyone implying that conservative ideals are wrong because “conservative” Presidents dont APPEAR to have lived by conservative ideals. That argument is so logically retarded (logtarded) it is downright Krugmanian!

  39. DeDude says:

    “I see a huge difference between deficits that result from tax cuts, and deficits that result from throwing money down a black hole”

    I agree. Deficits from tax cuts enacted when we still have national debt to pay are immoral – its like taking out a credit card in your children’s name. Throwing money down in the black hole of military spending is just plain stupid.

    “Who eliminated “Pay-Go”? Why did they do it?”

    The GOP cut a deal with Clinton to reduce the deficit with automatic spending limits. GOP thought they had tamed a “liberal spender”, and Clinton thought he had unloaded the political liability of deficit reduction onto congress – both thought they had won. As soon as GOP got Bush II in the white house they refused to renew that deal. Moderate GOPsters because they thought they had the moral superiority to reduce deficits without needing to be forced by rules; neocon GOPsters because they wanted to get taxcuts through without being forced to make the hard choices of matching with cuts in spending.

    “Progressives tend to think that giving people the facts and figures will inevitably lead them to the right conclusions”

    That really nails the problem with the left and Dems. They do not understand how ignorant and emotionally driven most people are. They could have won the health care debate with individual sob-stories about what lack of health care did to someone.

  40. Aside from the facts that:

    Debt/GDP is a meaningless ratio ( debt/GDP,

    And federal deficits merely are money created by the federal government (necessary for economic growth),

    And recessions repeatedly come on the heels of reduced debt growth ( Items #3 and #4,

    And debt/GDP is not in any way indicative of a nation’s economic health ( debt/GDP,

    It’s a “pretty telling” graph, though what it tells, no one knows.

    Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

  41. Apinak says:

    During the 8 years of the Bush II Administration the national debt grew by about $5 trillion (with many additional trillions, like Iraq and our devastated economy, still to come due), I defy anyone to come up with anything of substance we got for $5 trillion plus. You simply cannot avoid the conclusion that we PISSED IT ALL AWAY. We could have done so much with $5 trillion, but we did not fix our health care system, did not rebuild our infrastructure, did not provide alternative energy, nothing, nada, zip.

    Here is my summary of this argument.

  42. Lariat1 says:

    The difference is party discipline, the Dems tent is so big that every race, religion, and non-believer, gay or straight can fit in somewhere. I believe, in theory, they want to work for the “common good”. The Great Society. Whereas the Republicans have such a small tent that discipline is easier to control. Wonder where all the moderates went to? Discipline equals control, you can control the message better, or the propaganda. Trace the family lines of political parties. My husbands’ family, staunch republicans, farming family, owned hundreds of acres, No one was going to tell them what or how they should run their farm. They were fine through the Great Depression. My grandfather was plumber in a small city. He went door to door with his tools looking for the leaky faucet to fix. My grandmother thought FDR was a saint. If you have never needed help, you can’t understand completely.

  43. ironist says:

    Since President’s don’t pass budgets, why not show the graph associated with what party controlled Congress when the budget was passed? I think we’d see a very different story, one not so amenable to simplistic discussion of presidential perfidy.

  44. Jan Rogozinski says:

    No one should have to live on the same planet with people so totally evil they use the word “unfunded liability.” In referring to Social Security, for example, they are saying that “we owe folk this money AND, STARTING TODYA, NOT ONE PENNY IN SOCIAL SECURITY TAX WILL EVER BE COLLECTED AGAIN.”

    Of course, that is total crap. Folk will retire during the next forty years, and we will pay them what is due them by collecting the social security tax. Just as we have done for the past 70 years. There is no problem. It has always, for the past 70 years, been a “pay as you go” system. There never has been a problem

    Should at any time, the amount taken in be less than the amount paid out that year, one simply raises taxes. At the present time, the rich pay almost nothing in Social Security taxes, since the tax is collected merely on the first 100,000 per year. Simply raise the threshold to 200,000 or 300,000 and voila! the problem is solved. Actually, there should be no cap at all. Goldman Sachs folk and CEOS that make 300 million a year should pay the tax on 100% of their income. After all, they benefit from government spending and subsidies for big corporations far more than the poor do..

    What folk that tell the big lie about non-existent “unfunded liabilities” are saying is–It is better than old folk starve to death rahter than the rich pay their fair and legitimate share of taxes.

    Just remember. There is a tooth fairy. There is an Easter bunny. There are fairies and leprechauns. But there are not now, never have been, and never will be any “unfunded liabilities.”

  45. Cynic_FA says:

    @Jan Rogozinski “the rich pay almost nothing in Social Security taxes”

    You have this all backwards: the reality is that rich people GET almost nothing from Social Security. The system is designed as a national pension plan with mandatory contributions for labor. The middle and lower class save almost nothing for retirement, either because they cannot make it on their earnings or they have no discipline. The employee benefit research institute estimates that the average savings for retirement of a 65-74 year old is only $56,212. Without Social Security these people starve to death.

    Wealthier (but not rich) people on the other hand pay 6.9% * (2* 106,800) or $14,690 a year in social security tax. The tax is paid both by the employee and the employer and simple economics shows that the burden of the tax falls entirely on the employee. Wealthier people receive very little in return for the tax paid, and the benefit received is reduced by federal income tax.

    Why don’t you tell it like you really believe, “Raise income taxes back to 90%” and stop pretending that higher social security taxes and higher medicare taxes are anything other than escalated income tax rates. All the BS targeted tax cuts and phased out deductions are nothing more than a way to raise taxes on the wealthier Americans and pretend the maximum tax rate is still only 38%.

    I am tired of people picking on Cognos, just because he expresses an unpopular bullish opinion. An investment blog site should be much less welcoming to a socialist idiot like Rogozinski.

  46. Kimble says:

    “Should at any time, the amount taken in be less than the amount paid out that year, one simply raises taxes.”

    Social Security has NEVER been a pay as you go system. Social Security is now, and always has been, a tax the young today and give to the young from yesterday system.

    If population was evenly distributed then their would be little equity problem with this. But because the proportion of the population retiring is getting progressively larger than the proportion of the population working to fund that retirement there is a problem. Workers in the future will need to pay MORE of their income as tax in order to pay for the retirement of the baby boomers. As the population decreases (which is what you expect in developed economies) you have each generation having to support a larger and larger number and proportion of retirees.

    This plainly isnt fair, so where do you get off calling those bringing it to people attention “evil”?

  47. Greg0658 says:

    Cynic_FA – what can I say .. maybe .. look around at the world around you .. how much of what your in – on – touching – eating – watching – listening to could you have built yourself without help of another breathing entity?

    - maybe there are to many people without a means of earning a living and thus buy their own living in this system (there are)
    .. should we have a plan .. you rant like the plan is go off and die in the woods like old Rex .. yet in reality the system wants every living being it can get because a mouth to feed is a mouth to supply

    - maybe there are to many people not wanting to get their hands dirty or tax their brains for higher learning (there are)

    everything a government set of laws does is set psychoactive forces to overcome those … hense a money system and laws with purpose …. might throw in here homosex laws .. the system needs the other male head to make soldiers and laborers in quantity or else the local system will fail against an outside system

  48. Greg0658 says:

    pssst – how does it feel moms and dads to be used in such a way by our own designed system .. can’t say myself – wouldn’t go there for multiple reasons .. inquire’g minds like to know (if you think multi-dimensional) .. is it just instinct at work – just the way things are? (yep)

  49. Cynic_FA says:


    I believe in Social Security as possibly the most valuable government program. When I say the lower and middle class would starve to death without social security, I am pointing out the value and progbably the accomplishment of it’s goal to end senior poverty.

    I disagree with Jan’s premise that the rich pay too little into social security or that the system can be fixed by doubling or tripling taxes on the rich. (we already did this by doubling and tripling taxes on the rich to pay for subsidized health care, and social security taxes were doubled in the 1990′s and pegged to inflation going forward) I believe a more radical adjustment is needed to make social security sustainable. I believe the early retirement age needs to raise six months per year until it reaches 65 and the full retirement age needs to continue to increase six months per year until it reaches 70. A three to five year freeze on inflation adjustments for the currently retired would share the pain. The age adjustments are need to adjust for the increase in life expectancy since the inception of social security. Jan’s entitlement based socialist solution is to tax the filthy rich. A responsible economic solution is to adjust payments down to a sustainable level.

    Jan says social security is a right and there is no need to fix it. I say social security is a necessity and at risk if we don’t fix it. The retirement of the baby boomers will soon overwhelm social security and medicare. fixes today are mathematically possibly and politacally impossible. Waiting to reduce benifits for ten more years will result in a dollar crisis which is much bigger and more painful than the euro crisis.

    I believe you will see desperate measures to cut social security and government pensions and you will see Americans rioting in the streets. The topic here is runaway deficits. As noted by many above, the unfunded or uncounted deficits of social security and medicare, and state and local pensions, are the biggest threats. The current policy for dealng with these pension deficits is Extend and Pretend. the likely outcome is a collapse of the U.S. Dollar and another global recession.

  50. Greg0658 says:

    accept the recent post .. I may have read into items .. this type thingy is slow to make points

    that said .. I think a flat tax is in order but not flat flat .. a steady increase’g tax structure .. gentle long tail arthimetic program .. everybody is in .. you make more you keep more .. understand’g make’g more comes from other people make’g more and you make’g more you should be happy with that

    that zero opportunity / lazyness thing is a factoid – I much prefer a “not behind bars house’g system”

  51. grambo033 says:


    I love your stuff, but can we have an honest debate here and change that chart to reflect control of Congress instead of Executive Branch control. When I last read the Constitution, the power to spend was held in the Congress.

  52. HoldYourHorses says:

    The Field Guide to Cognitive Biases – good reading for all of us cheering our political “team” rather than being objective about the spending realities illustrated by the chart.

  53. NormanB says:

    Like statistics, graphs lie, also. I suggest someone redoes the Deficit/GDP graph taking it back to 1920 and instead of highlighting the terms of the Presidents it is highlighted with the majority party in the House of Representives. Remember, all budget bills must first be passed by the House. The Senate then votes on it and then to reconciliation for another vote by both houses. Then, and only then, does the President sign. The President may ‘present’ a budget but as we’ve heard so many times, its dead on arrival.

  54. DeDude says:

    “Simply raise the threshold to 200,000 or 300,000 and voila! the problem is solved. Actually, there should be no cap at all. Goldman Sachs folk and CEOS that make 300 million a year should pay the tax on 100% of their income”

    It is not quite that simple. Not only are the tax rates on the kind of income the rich have, lower than rates on the kind of income regular people earn. There is no social security tax on capital gains income. We need all income types to be taxes the same. Income is income, whether it comes from the luck of being born with a rich uncle, ripping off teacher’s pensions funds, or actual work. So it should all be taxed the same. Do that and go back to the tax rates of the sixties and all the problems are solved in no time.

  55. DeDude says:

    Remember back under Ike the rich were not spoiled little cry-babies whining because they had to pay 90% tax on the last earned dollar. They understood the responsibility coming along with living in a country where a man was free to make millions of dollars a year.

  56. momus says:

    The executive branch proposes the budget, the legislative branch modifies it and votes the money. So they are jointly responsible. What this graph doesn’t take into account is that Obama’s first budget started 10/1/09, not the day he took office. The FY 2009 budget, the TARP, the Fannie and Freddy bailouts, etc., were Bush programs. Those contributions to the national debt should be charged to Bush not BO.

    I don’t see why debt/GDP is an invalid measure, if its increasing, debt is growing faster than GDP, not a healthy situation, which is why every President from Truman to Carter worked to reduce it. Would it have gone lower without Vietnam and the Great Society? Who knows, we didn’t do that experiment.

  57. [...] Tuesday, I showed a chart of National Debt by President. Several readers said a more informative chart would include control of [...]