Over at DShort (and SA), Lance Roberts had a commentary about the Presidential budgets we discussed this past weekend (US Debt Accumulation by President). As did many commenters on the original post, he took issue with the numbers assembled by Spiegel (sourced from the NYT).

Unfortunately, some people seem to be repeating a significant error in assembling this data. It reflects a common misunderstanding of how Presidents execute the Federal budget. Blame the Fiscal Year versus the calendar year for the misunderstanding.

The data was assembled in the original post is not by each President’s first day in office to his last, but rather, by the budgets each President submits to Congress that gets passed. (Congress may change the budget, but rarely appropriates more than what the President requests). I cannot imagine that any fair-minded person would look at this data any other way: The debt each President creates is a function of the budgets each President submits to congress. It is not based upon the literal time they spend in office. Therefore the only objective way to view the data is BY EACH PRESIDENTS BUDGET.

This is not an insignificant point. So, rather than indulge in irrelevant measures that mislead the reader, let’s go to the actual fiscal numbers of each President’s budgets to see what there is to see.

On January 20th, 2001, George W. Bush was sworn into office – but the budget for most of the rest of that year was Bill Clinton’s, passed by the prior Congress. Barack Obama was sworn in on January 20th, 2009 – but the budget for most of that year was that of George W. Bush. Why are these so? Because the Federal government’s fiscal year runs from October 1 (of the previous calendar year) to September 30. Hence, the FY 2001 is Clinton’s and FY 2002 is Bush’s. FY2009 is Bush’s, FY 2010 is Obama’s.

The actual budgets of the Presidents and their deficits — that’s what this is about, right? — are as follows:

George W. Bush is sworn in on January 20th, but his first budget does not take effect until October 1, 2001:

10/1/2001: Bush starting deficit – $5.8 trillion

9/30/2009: Bush ending deficit – $11.9 trillion

Bush debt contribution: $6.1 trillion

Barack H. Obama is sworn in on January 20th, but his first budget does not take effect until October 1, 2009:

10/1/2009: Obama starting deficit – $11.9 trillion

9/30/2011: Obama ending deficit – $14.8 trillion

Obama debt contribution: $2.9 trillion

Of the $14.8 trillion in total debt as of September 30, 2011, the Bush budgets generated $6.1 trillion in deficits versus the $2.9 trillion of Obama deficits. That’s 41.2% vs 19.6% by a reasonable methodology of measuring presidential debt.

These are the actual Presidential Budget deficits — not time in office, which is simply an irrelevant measure that no fair minded, mathematically literate person would use. (Thank you to my readers who schooled me in the details of the federal government’s Fiscal Year).

A few other details worth noting:

First, these are nominal numbers, not inflation adjusted. So as time goes on, each previous presidents’ numbers appear to be smaller. (As true for Nixon as it is for Clinton). Feel free to inflation adjust them yourselves.

Second, every president’s share of the deficit goes down once they leave office. As their successors’ add more debt to the total, it makes the predecessor Presidents’ share smaller. Happened with Reagan, is happening with Bush, will happen with Obama.

Third, Obama’s share of the deficit will (obviously) go up over the next few years. An offsetting factor is he inherited an economy in recession (dated to December 2007) and a stock market in collapse.

Fourth, Bush’s total percentage of deficit creation will go down (see item #2). His mitigating factors: He inherited a dotcom collapse; And we cannot hold him responsible for the recession that started a month after he was sworn in. On the other hand, he did inherit a surplus, and made it a policy objective to get rid of that surplus. (Mission accomplished)

All data sourced from Treasury: Debt to the Penny (Daily History Search Application)

The charts below show how that simple change — from each President’s actual submitted budget versus their official term in office — change the outcome of this analysis.

US Debt Accumulation by President: Based on time each President is in office (Erroneous Calendar Year)

click for larger graphics

>

US Debt Accumulation by President: Based on time each President’s submitted budget (Accurate Fiscal Year)

Category: Data Analysis, 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.

101 Responses to “Understanding Federal Debt & Presidential Budgets, Fiscal Year Edition”

  1. machinehead says:

    Poor americanos: most of them have no clue the federal fiscal year starts on Oct. 1st. Or that it used to start on July 1st, until legislation in 1974 changed it (as Wikipedia comically puts it) ‘ to allow Congress more time to arrive at a budget each year.’

    How did that work out for y’all?

  2. theartolater says:

    The problem with this type of graph, however, is that it assumes what’s in the budget, right? Theoretically, that would remove the wars under Bush and the stimulus/auto bailouts under Obama, right?

  3. webmartians says:

    Although no fan of “Dubya,” with the updated dates and numbers, I calculate a Bush burn rate of slightly over two billion per day versus an Obama burn rate of not quite four billion.

  4. scottsabol says:

    I would love to know how much of the surplus created in the late 1990s was due to capital gains taxes before the dot com crash. Can anyone shed light on this?

  5. Edoc says:

    Thanks for posting this frequently-overlooked point.

    Anybody who has been paying close attention to this would recognize this. To their credit, even the folks over at Cato noted this:

    Don’t Blame Obama for Bush’s 2009 Deficit
    http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/dont-blame-obama-for-bushs-2009-deficit/

    Defending Obama…Again
    http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/defending-obama-again/
    “Let’s use an analogy. Obama’s FY2009 performance is like a relief pitcher who enters a game in the fourth inning trailing 19-0 and allows another run to score. The extra run is nothing to cheer about, of course, but fans should be far more angry with the starting pitcher.”

    Who’s To Blame for the Massive Deficit?
    http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=11094

  6. JimRino says:

    Hold on there BR,
    Why should President Barry be saddled with the Doubling of the US Food Stamp Program?
    Why should Barry be saddled with the doubling of the Unemployment payouts?

    President Bush allowed Wall Street Fraud to run rampant, in the Real Estate Market, and on Wall Street, or as Republicans like to call it: De-Regulation.

    Those policy’s bring down the whole economy for how many years 2-4? And Barry gets the blame?
    Then there’s the Bush-Cheney Wars, Clairvoyant Cheney goes into the Wrong Country, and cost’s us Trillions in War Costs, why does Barry get the “credit” for increase spending for Veteran Care?

    Barry started a tiny 800 Million Stimulus. Give him credit for that, everything else is Bush.

    Why isn’t there a 1 Trillion Dollar Infrastructure Program in Place NOW!

  7. ironman says:

    Doing some quick math:

    The debt under President Bush’s proposed budget rose $6.1 trillion in the 8 years from 2001 to 2009, or $762.5 billion per year, on average.

    The debt under President Obama’s proposed budget rose $2.9 trillion in the 2 years from 2009 to 2011, or $1,450.0 billion per year, on average.

  8. [...] Who added more to the deficit, Obama or Bush?  (TBP) [...]

  9. krice2001 says:

    Barry,
    Nice clarifications. I think most that complain about President Obama’s “wild spending” actually know that it isn’t the case. As you note, these folks are typically partisan conservatives who sat largely silent when George W. Bush activity engaged in reducing the surplus he believed he was starting with, which put us in a much weaker position when the you-know-what hit the fan a bit later.

    Should Romney or some other Republican nominee win the Presidency in the upcoming election, watch how quickly all the deficit talk disappears regardless of what direction it goes after that. I imagine the Republicans in the Legistature will be much more accomodating to deficit-increasing policies from one of their own.

    And that’s part of the frustration. The hypocrisy isn’t really a game – we’re talking about the nation’s real economy, here. It’s important that we eventually deal with the facts on the ground and not ideology. Eventually it catches up with you.

  10. [...] sport. Barry Ritholtz has done a great job of explaining one great stinking example of this: federal budgets as they relate to Presidents. Today, President Obama is the victim of this, but every president in recent history has also been [...]

  11. number2son says:

    Bush was a disaster as President in every possible respect and we will suffer the consequences for years and years to come. That’s not news and it won’t be diminished with time.

  12. csainvestor says:

    you can’t blame obama for all this debt.

    bush had the housing bubble and all the tax money that it generated flowing into the federal budget.
    obama inherited the recession with a dead housing market. horrible recession plus a completely dead housing market means tax receipts are going to take a HUGE huge hit during the obama presidency.

    couple lower tax receipts with higher poverty due to the recession and that equals more unemployment more food stamps etc etc

    couple all of the above with inflation and the wars cost even more money (on a daily basis) than they did under bush.

    even if you hate the president, you have to accept that a large part of this debt must be blamed on the recession.

    even if obama never spent a penny, he would have to pay the tab for previous governments bills and the debt and deficit was going to go up because of lower tax receipts and higher cost of the recession.

  13. chris whalen says:

    Thanks for this Barry. Republicans have always been the best deficit “hawks” in the best sense, but Bob Rubin surfing the SS wave is a goodie as well.

  14. Expat says:

    Bush’s debt was not his fault. It was because of 9-11. And his debt was good debt for things like bullets and bombs to liberate the people of Iraqistan. Hundreds of those inclining gym benches for waterboarding; man, those things are expensive. Tax breaks for the rich. Bailouts for Lloyd Blankfein. And, of course, $200 Halliburton hamburgers without which the brave defenders of the democracies in Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia would have had to eat hummus.

    Obama, on the other hand, has wasted his deficit on things like bullets and bombs to liberate the peoples of Iraqistan. Sanitizing towels to wipe down the hundreds of inclining benches still being used for waterboarding; it’s rude how those damn Muslims vomit up so much water all over our clean torture cells. Tax breaks for job creators. Bailouts for Goldman Sachs. And, of course, $200, 000 solar panels without which the brave defenders of capitalism at Solyndra would have been, well, poor.

    So, whatever the number, be it absolute or per month or per capita, you can obviously see which president has wasted the money and which has as well.

  15. tippet523 says:

    BR

    Thanks for clearing it up for me. Bottom line Both sides do know how to mismanage the budget quite well, just for different purposes.

  16. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    During the last Presidential campaign, I knew that Obama didn’t understand the economic land mine that had been planted and armed by Bushco, for if he had, he would have withdrawn from the race.

    Now, it seems that I (along with millions of other Americans hoping for change), was foolish enough to take Obama at his word that he was a reformer, a progressive, and a straight shooter who would return us to the Rule of Law, despite the shitty stick he had been handed by his predecessor.

    We can argue all we want to over who killed Cock Robin (in the end, such arguments are the equivalent to that of the juvenile characters in Stephen King’s story, The Body/Stand by Me, over who would win a fight between Superman and Mighty Mouse), but the fact remains that the transfer of wealth and power continues, unabated, and in full view of all.

    It is impossible to serve two masters. Neither Bush nor Obama served or serves the electorate.

    Any person continuing to support either of the two Corporatist factions waging the meaningless and staged battle for the “hearts and minds” of the American people is certainly ignorant of the reality of the situation we are in.

  17. toddie.g says:

    @ scottsabol – Yes, this would be very interesting data to know.

    And, given that the tech bubble had burst, Bush should have realized that those huge capital gains that were realized would not be repeating during his presidency, and without those the budget likely would have fallen back into deficit on it’s own. All the more reason to have reviewed the Bush tax cuts, and certainly the 2nd round of tax cuts in 2003, realizing the fiscal recklessness and the enormous deficits they would create, as predicted and told to him by his Treasury Secretary, Paul O’Neill. Of course, we know Bush didn’t have a fluid sense of changing realities – he was still transfixed on his 1999 view of the economy, and the idea the surplus should be returned to taxpayers so the tax cuts were rammed through. Wouldn’t it be nice to live permanently in a 1999 world?
    ——————

    “I would love to know how much of the surplus created in the late 1990s was due to capital gains taxes before the dot com crash. Can anyone shed light on this?”

  18. DebbieSmith says:

    Here is a look at the debt by President for the last 10 administrations and a calculation showing which Administration had the largest percentage increase in debt:

    http://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2011/08/americas-presidents-who-was-biggest.html

    The debt growth winner may surprise you.

  19. VennData says:

    If something doesn’t fit with the GOP narrative: How many jobs “Created,” CRA “causing” the economy collapse, Obama is a Kenyan Muslim, gays have weakened the US military, Bush’s tax cuts causing job creators to create billions of jobs … you just keep repeating it over and over to give solace to the believers.

    The purveyors of this GOP media machine nonsense are bad for America. Hear that GOP agitprop spinmeisters, you are bad for America. People who fight you in print and media are real Americans.

  20. Edoc says:

    Thanks for posting this frequently-overlooked point.

    Anybody who has been paying close attention to this would recognize this. To their credit, even the folks over at Cato noted this:

    Don’t Blame Obama for Bush’s 2009 Deficit
    http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/dont-blame-obama-for-bushs-2009-deficit/

    Defending Obama…Again
    http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/defending-obama-again/
    “Let’s use an analogy. Obama’s FY2009 performance is like a relief pitcher who enters a game in the fourth inning trailing 19-0 and allows another run to score. The extra run is nothing to cheer about, of course, but fans should be far more angry with the starting pitcher.”

    Who’s To Blame for the Massive Deficit?
    http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=11094

    Let’s also note that much of Bush’s spending keeps tanking the budget year after year. The tax cuts, the wars, and the prescription drug plan for seniors (a new entitlement!)– all of these things add to the deficit well after Bush left office.

  21. theexpertisin says:

    My beef with Barack is not solely debt. It is the totality of his failures, incompetence and appointments that grate. A smooth voice and presentation may impress those in the blue states (and old Europe), but the majority of the rest of us are no longer fooled.I don’t want my President to be the least qualified person in the room. This community organizer needs to go.

    The Bush bashing is a straw man at this stage. “Lean forward”, folks……

  22. Vivian Darkbloom says:

    Well, there are a few other considerations to keep in mind.

    First, if we are talking about budgets, for the past two years the administration has failed to have a budget passed by the Democratically controlled Senate. So, for these years, budgets, as such, don’t have a lot to do with how much deficit is created during a particular fiscal year.

    Second, assigning responsibility for deficits to fiscal years controlled by the President does have some appeal; however, certain adjustments would need to be made. One such adjustment would be the fact that much spending that occurs (or revenues that are foregone) have nothing to do with budgets a President submits to Congress. This, Mr. Ritholz, is called rather loosely “Emergency Spending”. One of the very first things that the Obama Administration did when it took office was to pass an off budget emergency bill called The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) to the tune of $700 billion. Several other “Emergency” bills followed that one.

    Third, one also needs to keep in mind the fact that deficits created by submitted budgets or emergency spending need the support of Congress. To say that a President is solely responsible for the fiscal happenings during his administration is, at best, a very crude manner of reckoning. For what it’s worth, though, the Executive branch and both houses of Congress were controlled by one party from January 2009 through the end of the 2009 fiscal year (Sept 30, 2009). While the economy was certainly in bad shape, any decisions as to emergency bills during that time were solely within the control of President Obama and his Congressional teammates.

  23. endorendil says:

    Good point, but … you should really add the ongoing costs of the deficits. Reagan’s deficits are still costing us, as only Clinton was obviously able to repay debt. I haven’t checked how often deficits were less than the debt service outside of Clinton’s presidency, but I guess it is zero. Since Bush managed to squash that silly surplus very quickly, I suspect that the US is still paying interest on virtually every dollar that Reagan borrowed, and will do so until the default. Would it be possible to get this taken into account properly?

  24. blackvegetable says:

    Now Barry, you KNOW I’m a big fan, but I must correct you on this…

    You use the labels “starting deficits” when, in fact, the numbers given are “starting gross debt”….In January 2001 the CBO projected a FY2001 SURPLUS of over 250 billion. In January 2009, the CBO projected a DEFICIT of 1.2 trillion. Though it can be reasonably argued that the net swing is somewhat distorted by the fact that shortly after the 2001 projection was issued we suffered a brief recession and the consequences of 9/11, and that the 2009 projection was affected by The Great Recession, it is quite clear that Supply Side Idiocy, Part Deux was a fiscal disaster on an unprecedented scale.

    There is another factor to which your analysis obliquely refers, but to which it pays insufficient attention.

    We can bicker and argue about the validity of CBO long term projections, but as a rough measure of the fiscal state it is important to consider that in January of 2001 there was serious concern that “Debt Held by the Public” was on a course to extinction. The Wonder of Scrubbonomics was not just in turning surpluses to record deficits, but also that it generated a long term prognosis of crippling debt growth (somewhere around 11 trillion) . This is the consequence of a “structural deficit” – a shortfall not explained by the vagaries of the business cycle, but rather by fiscal policy design. When examining the relative contributions of Scrub and Obama consider that, according to an analysis by the Washington Post, http://tinyurl.com/offtoTheHague, new programs by each totaled 7 and 1.7 trillion dollars respectively.

    There is also the effect of economic performance. Nominal population growth (and other demographic factors like an aging population) will contribute to increasing government expenditures. Such increases will be offset to a greater or lesser degree by economic growth. Among the numerous crimes of the Scrub Junta must be included fiscal and economic policies which generated an average annual real GDP growth rate of about 1.8%. Added to tax rate cuts, this left federal revenue well short of what was required to address the growth of federal spending – even absent the effects of the folly of Iraq, and the Jack Abramoff inspired Medicare Part D Pharma Industry Boondoggle.

    One of the tragic features of Supply Side Idiocy is that the consequences of Supply Side Idiocy persist long after the Supply Side Idiot responsible leaves town. This was as true for Ronald Reagan as it is for Scrub. The Wages of Supply Side Idiocy must always be paid by those unfortunate enough to succeed Supply Side Idiots…..

  25. freejack says:

    Now try it looking at the % increase in debt under each President’s submitted budgets …

    Reagan – 189%
    Bush (41) – 55%
    Clinton – 37%
    Bush (43) – 115%
    Obama – 16%

  26. hankest says:

    Good post, i get sick of explaing this to people ( federal fiscal year vs. calendar year).

    One thing, BR you got deficit and debt mixed up in this part.

    10/1/2001: Bush starting deficit – $5.8 trillion

    9/30/2009: Bush ending deficit – $11.9 trillion

    and

    10/1/2009: Obama starting deficit – $11.9 trillion

    9/30/2011: Obama ending deficit – $14.8 trillion

  27. Pod says:

    The are both irresponsible, big-government, socialist morons. Is that the point you are trying to make? If so, then Q.E.D.

  28. freejack says:

    @ theexpertisin
    “My beef with Barack is not solely debt….The Bush bashing is a straw man at this stage. “Lean forward”, folks……”

    What? Time to move the goalposts AGAIN!

  29. Blunt Instrument says:

    What ironman said, or, more succintly:

    Regarding fiscal responsibility, Bush was bad. Obama is double bad.

    Obama added (almost) half of Bush in one quarter of the time. His rate is (almost) Double that of GWB.

  30. Edoc says:

    Let’s note that much of Bush’s spending keeps tanking the budget year after year. Tax cuts, the wars, and the prescription drug plan for seniors– all of these things continue to add to the deficit after Bush left office.

    What ironman and blunt instrument are not mentioning is that deficits are a result outlays AND revenues. Obama was stuck with major losses in revenues from the bad economy (at a time when tax levels were already too low). Then on the spending side the automatic economic stabilizer programs kicked in– unemployment and medicaid. And finally Bush’s spending that I mentioned above.

  31. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    “A smooth voice and presentation may impress those in the blue states (and old Europe), but the majority of the rest of us are no longer fooled.”
    _________________

    No no longer fooled? Just perpetually ignorant?

    Obama has succeeded in efforts where the rest of the right wing failed, in addition to extending right wing policies:

    • Killed bin Laden and many other al Queda and Taliban leaders

    • Extended Bush’s tax cuts

    • Expanded the wasteful wars y’all busted a nut over (are they paying for themselves, yet?)

    • Increased the security state

    • Deported illegal immigrants at a record pace

    And you have the audacity to criticize him?

    C’m on, dude, tell us the REAL reason you don’t fully support him.

  32. DeDude says:

    It is definitely better than looking at it in terms of “year in office”. Similarly the first recession under Bush II should be “assigned” to Clinton, just as the great recession and its aftermath should be “assigned” to Bush II. There are a number of things that makes this very hard to discuss in a rational way, and makes it extremely vulnerable to partisan cherry picking and manipulation.

    We should not discuss deficits but always discuss increase in debt, and always include the debt to the trust funds for social security and federal employee pensions. The debt should not be expressed as $ but as % of GDP in the year it was accumulated. So for every year a president was “responsible” what was the debt increase expressed as a % of the GDP for that year.

    The increase in debt can be more or less “blamed” on a president depending on why it occurred. If we increase debt because a president is handing out huge tax cuts (rather than paying down national debt) that is different from debt accumulated because of a severe recession reducing tax receipts. But even tax cuts have to be put in perspective, since they can be justified if the economy is in need of stimulus to get out of a slump. Same with deficit resulting form spending on war. Was the war justified and was it justified not to implement a war tax to pay for it.

    The issue of over/under spending and taxing is extremely complicated yet it always get subjected to simplification way beyond what it can handle without killing rational debate.

  33. GeorgeBurnsWasRight says:

    Barry,

    You’re wasting your time with posts like this. A majority of Americans are convinced that Obama passed TARP.

  34. The Window Washer says:

    Barry
    Good post but you made another mistake in it. One many people make.
    Bush did not come in on a suplus if you’re talking about the national debt.

    Clintons last budget increased the national debt.

    Do the date range at:

    http://www.treasurydirect.gov/NP/BPDLogin?application=np

    A mistake many people make when talking about the national budget vs the national debt.
    If I remember right Clinton’s budgets only reduced the debt for a month or two at the end of his 7th.

    Wow I just schooled BR.

  35. BDW says:

    What Petey is saying is that Obama has been the most successful Republican president in history. I think this plays along the line of “don’t start a policy you wouldn’t want the next guy to have.” This line goes along with the fact that Republicans cried about the meany Dems filibustering all the psychopathic court appointees they have but are ignoring the fact that the Senate is in complete gridlock because of Republican filibusters of EVERYTHING (hence NO BUDGET FOR 2 YEARS).

    I don’t know why I defend Obama….maybe because it is the tax cuts, wars, prescription drug plan, a full lack of regulatory oversight, and the suicidal overall of the bankruptcy laws that ALL happened under Bush and a Republican congress causing most of today’s pain (along with the repeal of glass-steagel). My greatest complaint of Obama is that he has appeased repubs in his proposals while getting no votes for it.

  36. Blunt Instrument says:

    @Edoc, you wrote:

    Tax cuts, the wars, and the prescription drug plan for seniors– all of these things continue to add to the deficit after Bush left office.

    Has Obama made it a part of his policy to repeal these costly programs?

    If Obama is, in fact, powerless to reverse the bad policy decisions of GWB, then he is ineffective. If he chooses not to reverse the bad policy decisions of GWB, then he is incompetent.

    Obama was stuck with major losses in revenues from the bad economy

    Granted, but he wasn’t drafted into the job – he sought it out. Therefore, it’s his responsibility to craft policy to address these problems.

    The “woe is me” routine is getting tired and worn out.

  37. HarleyHoward says:

    Aren’t you comparing Bush’s 8 year accumulation to Obama’s 2? Loks like Obama would be headed to double Bush, unless the House prevents it. Also wasn’t Obama’s last budget proposal so bad that even the Democratic entrenched elites couldn’t swallow it?
    Just askin’.

  38. AtlasRocked says:

    @ironman, who said: The debt under President Bush’s proposed budget rose $6.1 trillion in the 8 years from 2001 to 2009, or $762.5 billion per year, on average.

    The debt under President Obama’s proposed budget rose $2.9 trillion in the 2 years from 2009 to 2011, or $1,450.0 billion per year, on average.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>> I add:

    Hence, the term Obama = 2 * Bush.

    2x the policies, 2x the bad outcomes. An interesting fact from the CBO is that Bush raised social spending 3.5 times more than he raised war spending, so it is fair to pro-rate around 70% of Bush’s deficits to social costs, not blame the deficits 100% on either war or social expenditures.

    Bush was clearly a liberal policy adherant, not conservative in any way.

  39. deanscamaro says:

    WTF, Barry, numbers don’t lie!! Well…….maybe they do in the hands of politicians, the biggest liars on earth. If you want to get the people to elect you to office, you twist the numbers to make the other party look bad, or visa versa. Both parties do the same thing, because they are twisted by the same people….those trying to get elected to office. The Republicans have been feeding the same message for years, the Democrats are the “Tax and Spend Party” and they have to be blaring that message, because they have nothing more. So they pound whatever budget info is advantageous for their party onto the unsuspecting public. And usually, the loadest voices are those trying to get elected to Congress. Need I say more?

  40. theexpertisin says:

    Petey, my friend….

    You wanted the REAL reason I don’t support Obama. Hmmm…

    Here it is:

    He is bad medicine for this country, especially African Americans whom have suffered more the past three years than any other class.

    And I receive the added joy of having my vote against this Being cancel out yours in 11/2012.

  41. rj chicago says:

    Barry,
    By any measure a sinking boat raises the water level if even only by a little bit. We are in alot of trouble in our nation – across the board!!!

  42. billjohnson says:

    Glass-Steagall was repealed in 1999 and signed into law by William J CLINTON. [Damn you phil gramm] There’s your staring pitcher right there. Bush never had a chance…as he never had the intellect to understand what was going on. Obama is two steps removed from the local community organizer trying to get a pot hole fixed on my street.

    All of you Obama apologists: Obama took tons of money from wallstreet. As soon as he was elected, he appoints the same corrupt banker types that Bush did and romney will. He extends the exact same tax breaks as Bush did. He allows the same crony bank bailouts that Bush did. He now having to hide emails from the solyndra fiasco. THis is all an illusion of choice. Bush, Obama, Romney, etc….all bought and paid for. Time for the red pill…

  43. rickety rick says:

    barry,
    i have just one small disagreement. since the economic recovery started in june, 2009 then i would say that obama’s first budget ( which you say began in october, 2009 ) took place in that expansion. so it seems to me that his first 2 budgets were done in an expansion and to say he inherited a recession is not correct as far as his budget years are concerned. can you imagine what the deficits might be if we’re headed into another recession?

  44. Vivian Darkbloom says:

    “GeorgeBurnsWasRight Says:
    October 20th, 2011 at 10:28 am
    Barry,

    You’re wasting your time with posts like this. A majority of Americans are convinced that Obama passed TARP.”

    I’m glad you brought this up. TARP was enacted in the Bush administration (not ARRA). The total amount authorized by TARP was about $700 billion, a lot of which was never spent. Since this is about using fiscal years for assigning responsibilities for deficits, Ritholz would certainly not be wasting his time analyzing how the accounting treatment of TARP affected the scores for “deficits” between the two administrations. Here’s actually what happened:

    During the Bush administration FY 2009 approximately $245 billion was spent (primarily invested in preferred stock of banks and GSEs). The Treasury Department (from which Ritholz gets his numbers) books this fully to the “Bush” deficit. During FY 2010 and FY 2011 when that money started to be repaid, the amounts *reduced* the “Obama” deficits by such amounts repaid. Cumulatively, that’s a huge swing from Bush’s destriment to Obama’s favor.

    Greg Mankiw covered this topic some time ago and noted that while the Treasury Department (from which Ritholz got his numbers) used the above approach, the CBO and even the White House argued for an approach that estimated how much of that “investment” would likely be repaid and reported a lower amount as up-front deficit.

    http://gregmankiw.blogspot.com/2009/02/which-budget-deficit.html

  45. James Cameron says:

    On the other hand, he did inherit a surplus, and made it a policy objective to get rid of that surplus. (Mission accomplished)

    That is an understatement, of course. A crucial distinction between the two administrations is what each inherited. It is extraordinarily difficult to understand how someone could have been handed a surplus but still manage to (more than) double the national debt. There’s plenty to criticize with the current administration, but I very much doubt any administration would have been much more successful with regard to spending, and that especially includes the one we could have had.

  46. Edoc says:

    @Blunt Instrument

    1. “Has Obama made it a part of his policy to repeal these costly programs?”

    Do you understand how the US Senate works? With Obama’s inauguration it became a de-facto 60-vote body to pass all significant legislation. When that happens it is extremely difficult to pass or repeal anything. Google the term “filibuster.” If you knew anything about this, you would realize what a poor rebuttal this is.

    111th Senate Breaks A Filibuster Record
    http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/12/111th-senate-breaks-one-filibuster-record.php

    2. “Granted, but he wasn’t drafted into the job – he sought it out. Therefore, it’s his responsibility to craft policy to address these problems.”

    See my reply to item #1 above. There is a minority party which filibusters virtually everything, even bills that they themselves sponsor. If you paid closer attention, it might dawn on you that a president can’t sign bills into law unless they pass Congress first.

  47. 4whatitsworth says:

    BR, this sounds an awful lot like the political bending of information to meet the desired outcome. The first chart bends the data to the left and the other chart to the right. Obama is only ½ way through his term and it looks like his spending will be on par with Bush Jr a the end of his term. Both of these guys were a disaster what we need is less government not more and a leader that is willing to make the hard choices and give America confidence that we are back on a sustainable path.

  48. riley says:

    As you are a stickler you are for correctness, 10/1/2001 Bush starting DEBT – $5.8 trillion. The debt is how much money the country owes. The deficit is the difference between income and revenues in a given budget. The deficit in the budget as passed by Congress (or in the case of the past few years, submitted to congress) is meaningless. States, as they are required to, pass a balanced budget so there is no deficit. Yet each year State debt increases.

    As you are comparing the increase in debt under each Administration and not the deficit in each proposed budget, how are receipts accounted for in the numbers presented? Income taxes are paid in one fiscal year, however ~75% of the income those taxes are based on is income earned in the prior fiscal year. Who gets the credit for the taxes paid in April 2002? Clinton or Bush?

  49. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    theexpertisin:

    What makes you think I’d vote for Obama again? After all, fool me once . . .

    OTOH, your statement that “red” states have an answer to any of this is ignores what is happening in those states, or the ongoing clown show embodied in the Republican debates.

  50. webmartians says:

    Hey! Youse guys! What about ironman’s and my point that the burn rate under Obama is about twice that of BushCo? No answer? OK, I don’t have any, either, but I was hopin’ fer something … just hoping…

  51. Blunt Instrument says:

    @ Edoc:

    1. = rebuttal via straw man, with ad hominem thrown in.
    You didn’t answer my question: What is Obama’s policy regarding repealing the tax cuts, the wars, and the prescription drug program?

    2. = more of the same.

    Note: You can’t campaign as the agent of change, not change anything, and then blame everyone else for your ineffectiveness. Get it done or get out of the way. Period.

    My understanding of Senate protocol is beside the point. But you already knew that.

  52. Conan says:

    I have to strongly disagree. Who set the budget is irrelevant. It is who manages it that counts. In corporations all over the world budgets are set by others and the managers are measured as to how they perform against it.

    Next deficits are also a measure of revenue collection and the amount spent. So are we going to say that the economy started to tank at the end of Georges term so and under performance afterward is only accountable under his watch??

    Come on this lack of accountability is just excuse making. I personally make my living turning around manufacturing operation. When I take a job I guarantee I will turn around the factory in one year. I have been doing this for over 22 years in many third world countries.

    So who was it that campaigned for change?? Or is like what my Dad said about luck, it comes in two flavors, good and bad. is this guy a change agent or or we just going to pick and choose dates like a mutual fund advertisement to make our returns look the best??

  53. Jojo says:

    Given that most Republicans seem to hate everyone who is currently running for their presidential nomination and given Petey Wheatstraw’s succinct summary of how Obama has helped the Republicans to:

    ============
    • Kill bin Laden and many other al Queda and Taliban leaders
    • Extended Bush’s tax cuts
    • Expanded the wasteful wars y’all busted a nut over (are they paying for themselves, yet?)
    • Increased the security state
    • Deported illegal immigrants at a record pace
    ============

    one would think that the Republicans should be drafting Obama to run under their ticket as their standard bearer! This would allow the Dems to pick a real Democrat to run under their banner! One can only hope, sigh.

  54. Joe Friday says:

    BR: Bush’s … mitigating factors: … And we cannot hold him responsible for the recession that started a month after he was sworn in.”

    A) Technically, it was March.

    B) Why the hell can’t we hold Chimpy Bush responsible for the recession ?

    After eight years of historic record high levels of Consumer Confidence during President Clinton’s two terms (as reported by the private-sector Conference Board) Consumer Confidence plummeted by more than 10% in November 2000 when Chimpy Bush was falsely announced as the “winner” of the election (the largest drop in over 10 years, not seen since the last recession, during Poppy Bush’s administration, in 1990).

    Consumer Confidence once again plummeted by another 10% in December 2000 when Chimpy Bush was unconstitutionally ‘appointed’ by the RightWing “Gang of Five” on the Supreme Court (again, the largest drop in over 10 years, not seen since the last recession, during Poppy Bush’s administration, in 1990).

    A 20% drop in Consumer Confidence in less than 60 days is a massive shift in consumer sentiment, yet it continued to drop even further in January, again in February, and again in March. Given that Consumer Spending comprises some 72% of the American economy, it’s really no surprise that the nation’s economy finally sunk into recession by March.

  55. Joe Friday says:

    scottsabol.

    I would love to know how much of the surplus created in the late 1990s was due to capital gains taxes before the dot com crash. Can anyone shed light on this?

    The overwhelming majority of the federal budget surpluses in the “late 1990s” was as a result of the large overall growth in the National Labor Participation Rate.

  56. Blunt Instrument says:

    @Jojo wrote:
    one would think that the Republicans should be drafting Obama to run under their ticket as their standard bearer!

    Republicans, maybe. Fiscal conservatives – never! I remember the days long ago when the two weren’t mutually exclusive. Sigh.

  57. Edoc says:

    @ blunt instrument
    What is Obama’s policy regarding repealing the tax cuts, the wars, and the prescription drug program?
    1. Repeal tax cuts for individuals making more than $250k.
    2. Wind down Iraq responsibly, withdrawing slowly to ensure stability. Escalate Afghanistan per recommendation of his generals and Defense Secy Robert Gates, and begin withdrawal in the summer 2012 completing in 2014.
    3. The Affordable Care Act, which made reductions to Medicare (eliminating entitlements overlap with the new legislation), which the GOP in turn used for attack ads in the mid-terms. In 2014 if PPACA is fully implemented, the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) will make recommendations which force Congress to address Medicare costs, such as by allowing the gov to negotiate with pharma’s on drug prices (which Bush’s prescription drug bill specifically prohibited).
    4. Really? You needed me to enumerate these policy positions for you? You could look up these up if you valued having informed opinions.

    “Note: You can’t campaign as the agent of change, not change anything, and then blame everyone else for your ineffectiveness. Get it done or get out of the way. Period… My understanding of Senate protocol is beside the point.”

    The office of president is not the same as king or emperor. Presidents have power mainly in matters of foreign policy and in the role of commander in chief. Everything else must go through Congress, whose dysfunction should be clear. Your ignorance as to how our government works has everything to do with the poor quality of your opinions and your misguided expectations.

  58. DeDude says:

    “He extends the exact same tax breaks as Bush did. He allows the same crony bank bailouts that Bush did”

    Actually the bank bailouts were done when he got into office and the Car company bailouts that he did do were done in a much different way than the bank bailouts (getting rid of incompetent leadership, haircuts to bondholders etc.). And with respect to the extension of the Bush tax cuts only a brain dead moron would have failed to observe that the wanted the cuts for the high earners to expire but was blackmailed to let them all continue by the GOP senators. He did a lot of other things wrong but lets try to stick to facts and leave out Fox talking points.

  59. DeDude says:

    webmatians@12:42;

    Well the burn rate is dependent on spending and tax revenue. If you are getting into a free fall economy you expect to have increased spending and falling tax revenue so who is surprised that he has a larger debt accumulation. We are still having a very large number of people out of work so the social costs and lack of tax income has not improved much in the 2 years. With a GOP opposition party that is going to use the filibuster to ensure that the economy does not recover until after the next election, there really is not much he can do about it. He has put forth all the right proposals but he is not in power to do something if the do nothing GOPsters wont approve his proposed legislation.

  60. Blunt Instrument says:

    @ Edoc Says:

    Thank you for answering my questions. But consider this:

    1. Obama extended the Bush tax cuts until after the November 2012 elections, including for those making over $250K. Look it up.
    2. Obama intervened in Libya and increased military spending (including the war on drugs). Any reductions don’t take place until after the November 2012 elections. Look it up.
    3. Obama wholeheartedly endorsed the prescription drug benefit. Any potential cost controls related to the Affordable Care Act don’t take place until after November 2012 elections. Look it up.
    4. I did look it up. I wondered if you did.

    Obama never once said during the elections that he was going to do as much as he could provided the all-powerful and mean-spirited congress would agree. He campaigned as an agent for change. I’m just holding him to his promises. As I would any Republican, Independent, or Martian.

    I have no love for congress. I understand the depths of their dysfunction. However, when discussing the performance of ANY president, one must take that as a given.

    Obama was elected to LEAD the country. That is a difficult job. I sympathize with the enormity of his challenges. However, he CHOSE to do this job. Now it is his responsibility to LEAD. Leading doesn’t mean giving us 4 more years of the kind of irresponsible fiscal governance that got us into this mess.

    Leading means facing these challenges and overcoming them.

  61. DeDude says:

    @Blunt Instrument;

    “Leading means facing these challenges and overcoming them”

    You really are dense. Give us the exact realistic actions that would allow Obama to “face these challenges and overcoming them”. Should he line the GOPsters up aginst a wall and shot them? All this tough guy moronic BS about the President fixing this or that problem seem to completely forget that reality has certain restrictions. Why don’t you just flap your wings and fly??

  62. James Cameron says:

    Obama extended the Bush tax cuts until after the November 2012 elections, including for those making over $250K. Look it up.

    And the alternative was what, to raise taxes in this economic environment, forget the political one? Frankly, I think it’s pretty laughable giving him a hard time on this issue.

  63. Vivian Darkbloom says:

    OK, once again:

    GeorgeBurnsWasRight wrote:

    “Barry,

    You’re wasting your time with posts like this. A majority of Americans are convinced that Obama passed TARP.”

    Actually, TARP was initiated during the Bush administration. But, guess what? Due to the Treasury Department accounting (the accounting followed here by Ritholz), the Bush administration got hit with an approximately $245 billion deficit hit for the cost of that program. Guess who got credit for the revenues when those TARP funds were repaid? Well, that would be the Obama administration per the Treasury accounting for this program. The combined effect of TARP was to increase the “Bush deficit” by more than $245 billion and to reduce the “Obama deficit” by nearly the same amount.

    The CBO and even the White House agree that this accounting is not apporpriate. This accounting issue was previously reported on Greg Mankiw’s blog.

  64. Jojo says:

    @James Cameron said “And the alternative was what, to raise taxes in this economic environment, forget the political one? Frankly, I think it’s pretty laughable giving him a hard time on this issue.”
    ———
    The amount of tax increase that those making over $250k would have paid would have been small change, next to negligible!

    But instead of taking a stand, like a man of principle would have done regardless of the consequences, Obama caved and took the politically expedient road. This is why he is losing his base, why many no longer trust anything he has to say and why many think of him as more Republican than Democrat. I voted for Obama but I will not do so again.

    Obama’s broken campaign promises
    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/obameter/rulings/promise-broken/

  65. TennesseeCPA says:

    Okay, Barry. You’re a New York Democrat. Sheesh! All consideration to any Dem and any way to give him the benefit of the doubt. And if a Repub opens his mouth, he’s mean or ignorant. Next.

  66. DeDude says:

    “But instead of taking a stand, like a man of principle would have done regardless of the consequences”

    No doing something regardless of the consequences is something moronic little irresponsible kids do, after age 26 your brain is supposed to have developed past that. In real adult life you do not get to choose the perfect, you chose the less bad. The realistic option in a democracy leave the president with a constant choice between the less worse and the worser.

  67. MaxThrax says:

    Yeah, try telling this to your average hillbilly, er, conservative. They’ll scream: THE BUDGET COMES FROM CONGRESS….IT’S IN THE CONSTITUTION. Try to explain that it was changed after WWI. Blank stare. If you continue to TRY and explain, the typical response is: YOU THINK YOU’RE SO SMART, YOU THINK YOU KNOW EVERYTHING!

    It’s funny but tragic.

    Count me in as someone who thinks Obama’s tough talk is just campaign boilerplate. Come his next term, he’ll go right back to corporate/Wall St bootlicking under the guise of ‘bi-partisanship’.

    This country has 2 years tops.

  68. MaxThrax says:

    …and Barry, at some point you’re going to have to address the role of race and culture in all this. Because let’s be honest, much, if not most of the opposition is clearly not about policy, fiscal or domestic. The end of the white majority is nigh, just ask Pat Buchanan(who is becoming more and more honest at least), and there’s a current of cultural panic in everything conservatives do or say.

  69. James Cameron says:

    The amount of tax increase that those making over $250k would have paid would have been small change, next to negligible!

    But that wasn’t the original point made. It was this:

    “Obama extended the Bush tax cuts until after the November 2012 elections, including for those making over $250K. ”

    And this was neither economically smart nor politically possible. And I suppose he could have pushed for the increase for those making over 250K, but that’s a different discussion – and it was still politically impossible. And I hear this all the time:

    “This is why he is losing his base, why many no longer trust anything he has to say and why many think of him as more Republican than Democrat. I voted for Obama but I will not do so again.”

    As I recall there were a lot of skeptics during the campaign regarding the “Hope and Change” rhetoric, but they were regularly shot down, often viciously, by those who bought the message hook, line and sinker. I mean, it’s not as though there weren’t some warning lights. If you’re happier having a R in there – maybe a Perry – that’s up to you. Personally, I’ve had enough Texan Rs for a lifetime.

  70. Edoc says:

    @Blunt Instrument
    1. Yes, Obama kept the tax cuts in place until 2012. The alternative was to to raise on everyone. Raising taxes during a major recession is contractionary. At the threat of filibuster, the GOP coerced Obama to accept extending the tax cuts for all, contrary to their deficit rhetoric.
    2. Yes, Obama intervened in Libya, mainly via NATO. Maybe you disagree, but we helped liberate this oil nation for 1 Billion, with news today of Muammar Qaddafi’s death. You may not like the increased military budget, but the party with filibuster power in the Senate doesn’t care what you or I think.
    3. Medicare Part D was enacted in 2003, at the end of Bush’s first term. Obama became a US Senator in 2005. Obama supports the prescription drug benefit, but is in favor of cost controls for Medicare such as I described. The two are not mutually exclusive. The goal of ACA is to restrict the growth of health care costs while extending coverage. The filibuster party wants to repeal this legislation because the 168% rise in health insurance premiums over the past 12 years is not reason enough to do anything about it.

    “Obama never once said during the elections that he was going to do as much as he could provided the all-powerful and mean-spirited congress would agree. He campaigned as an agent for change. I’m just holding him to his promises. ”

    This is known as “campaign rhetoric.” Consider all the patently crazy stuff the GOP candidates are saying. It’s pandering. I understand you might be sullen about Obama’s accomplishments in the face of total GOP opposition. The 111th Congress, however, was very productive, but with the mid-term elections those days are over.

    “Leading doesn’t mean giving us 4 more years of the kind of irresponsible fiscal governance that got us into this mess.”

    You have it backwards. During good times, the government should be running surpluses. During bad times, the government should be spending and running deficits. Obama is the one who is in sync. The previous inhabitant of the White House was way out of sync. A deficit-reducing austerity program right now would contract the economy, making our current deficit even worse. How’s austerity working out in Europe?

    “Leading means facing these challenges and overcoming them.”

    Reality check: Obama cannot eliminate the Senate filibuster rules by executive fiat. The GOP is engaged in total war with the administration’s agenda. If Obama were willing to pass more tax cuts, pass corporate tax cuts, eliminate environmental and workplace regulations, repeal Dodd-Frank and PPACA, slash Social Security Medicare and Medicaid, cut the budget across-the-board and default on our treasury bills– in effect, hand the government agenda over to the minority party (all in exchange for NOTHING), yes, in that case I think the GOP might allow some of those bills to pass. In fact Obama has attempted to barter some of those proposals in one form or another during the debt ceiling negotiations– to no avail.

    So good luck with this fantasy where a lone Superman swoops in and rescues the troubled nation in distress. It was what everybody wanted to hear on the campaign trail, I’ll grant you that much.

  71. DeDude says:

    A presidential candidate has to campaign on what he will try to get accomplished. But if the electorate want him to actually accomplish it, they have to deliver at least 60 completely obedient senators and a solid majority of supporters in the house. Without that you cannot hold him responsible for not delivering on his campaign promises. Do we really expect him to add to every campaign promise “I know you morons don’t have a clue about your own constitution, so let me remind you that all of this will only be possible if congress approve it”. A little bit of basic knowledge about your own democracy should not be beyond what he can expect from the voters.

  72. Edoc says:

    @JoJo
    Well said. I felt that the tax cuts should expire, despite the (mild) affect on consumer demand. Those tax cuts are responsible for nearly half of our current deficit.

    http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=692

    Then again, I’m fairly well off financially, so it didn’t bother me to surrender a bit more. To calculate the difference in your current tax burden versus what you’d pay under the expired cuts, see:

    http://interactive.taxfoundation.org/taxcalc/

  73. webmartians says:

    I hope this doesn’t end up hijacking the discussion (not likely), but there are some articles describing a doomsday scenario if the US were to pay off its debt, for example:

    http://www.businessinsider.com/clinton-seligman-life-after-debt-2011-10

    Thanks, DeDude for your comments. I agree that spending is necessary in time of crisis and I am a Keynesian (Keynes is dead and I’m not feeling too well, myself). I note that, while he advocated federal support of a stumbling economy, Keynes warned against cross-currency support. Is that what has happened as US Treasury notes, purchased by non-dollar currency parties, prop up our economy? That concern forms a dovetail between this discussion and the aforementioned “Life after Debt” article(s).

  74. webmartians says:

    …by the way, the referenced paper is at

    http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2011/10/20/LifeAfterDebt.pdf

    …and it has, near the beginning,

    “Regardless of how the Fed proceeds, by 2012 the public debt will be retired according to current projections, leaving the government with net receipts above its expenditures. In order to deal with financial obligations mid century, the government may choose to save, and indeed invest this surplus.”

    Debt free by 2012 … Wow! How’d that work out for ya?

  75. kgacek says:

    I don’t understand you people. Arguing who is more fiscally irresponsible. BY any measure, both Bush and Obama are fiscal asshats. My 10 year daughter exhibits more fiscal responsibility than both of these idiots. They should both be ashamed of themselves, and so should Barry.

  76. brianlane8 says:

    I am curious if the numbers quoted above include the debt from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Can anyone offer some insight on this. I believe that those debts would be credited to “W”; however, any inclusion of those debts in the statistics is biased and unfair.

  77. [...] follow up post of his methodology can be found here. Related Posts :The Economist: Comparison of Global Effective… Percent Change in After Tax Income [...]

  78. spiderjhn says:

    MaxThrax Says:
    October 20th, 2011 at 5:31 pm
    Yeah, try telling this to your average hillbilly, er, conservative. They’ll scream: THE BUDGET COMES FROM CONGRESS….IT’S IN THE CONSTITUTION. Try to explain that it was changed after WWI. Blank stare. If you continue to TRY and explain, the typical response is: YOU THINK YOU’RE SO SMART, YOU THINK YOU KNOW EVERYTHING!
    October 20th, 2011 at 5:34 pm
    …and Barry, at some point you’re going to have to address the role of race and culture in all this. Because let’s be honest, much, if not most of the opposition is clearly not about policy, fiscal or domestic. The end of the white majority is nigh, just ask Pat Buchanan(who is becoming more and more honest at least), and there’s a current of cultural panic in everything conservatives do or say.

    Why all the hate my friend? And to think it’s the right that’s full of hate, racists homophobes

  79. spiderjhn says:

    Why all the hate my friend? And to think it’s the right that’s full of hate, racists,homophobes and all the rest your side love to claim.
    Race and culture in all this? No not here. And not anywhere near you would like to claim. Obama Was not ready for the job, as stated by more and more on your side. Your a smart man. Leave the card in your pocket.

  80. Blunt Instrument says:

    @Edoc; @DeDude:

    It astounds me that you continue to make excuses for the President’s lack of accomplishments as if he was a 10 year old who forgot to do his homework.

    He actively campaigned for the most powerful position on the planet. He wanted this job. He made bold statements and promises about change. To date, he has failed to accomplish most of his primary objectives. Yet you continue to blame everyone else for his failures.

    I neither expect, nor want, the President to have responsibility for the economy at large. However, the one thing I do expect him to take responsibility for, and accomplish, is the budget. If he cannot work with the GOP or even his own party to accomplish his budget goals, then he is a failure. Period.

    We don’t make excuses for the football coach when he finishes 4 and 12. He gets fired. We don’t make excuses for the CEO when her company goes belly up. She gets fired. Neither should we make excuses for the ineptitude of the chief executive. He should be fired as well come May/June 2012.

  81. Jojo says:

    @DeDude said:

    “But instead of taking a stand, like a man of principle would have done regardless of the consequences”

    No doing something regardless of the consequences is something moronic little irresponsible kids do, after age 26 your brain is supposed to have developed past that. In real adult life you do not get to choose the perfect, you chose the less bad. The realistic option in a democracy leave the president with a constant choice between the less worse and the worser.
    ———–
    And that is why so little ever gets accomplished in Washington any longer. People elect politicians to do what is right and what is best for the country, not what is politically expedient.

  82. Blunt Instrument says:

    @ DeDude:

    But if the electorate want him to actually accomplish it, they have to deliver at least 60 completely obedient senators and a solid majority of supporters in the house.

    I guess that because GWB didn’t have filibuster-proof majorities in the Senate during his tenure, we can’t hold him responsible for his share of the national debt, either.

    Ridiculous.

  83. leveut says:

    “On January 20th, 2001, George W. Bush was sworn into office – but the budget for most of the rest of that year was Bill Clinton’s, passed by the prior Congress. Barack Obama was sworn in on January 20th, 2009 – but the budget for most of that year was that of George W. Bush. Why are these so? Because the Federal government’s fiscal year runs from October 1 (of the previous calendar year) to September 30. Hence, the FY 2001 is Clinton’s and FY 2002 is Bush’s. FY2009 is Bush’s, FY 2010 is Obama’s.”

    You have to draw the line somewhere and then justify why you drew it that way. Drawing the line strictly on the fiscal year and the budget for that fiscal year is reasonably justifiable and is probably the best simplification.

    I would say, however, that drawing it based on inauguration dates is also justifiable, although not quite as reasonably, because as of taking office, the new president begins proposing legislation that affects the budget for that current fiscal year and tries to get it passed, for example spending and/or tax cuts in the first six months. Sometimes passed successfully and sometimes not.

    The truth, as opposed to The Trvth, is that for Jan 20 to Sept 30 of the first year of a presidential term the budget and spending is blended, becoming more the new president’s and Congress’s as time passes and less the last president’s and last Congress’s. But that isn’t so easily conducive to analysis.

    ~~~

    BR: I drew the line based on each president’s submitted fiscal year budget.

    I prefer the qauntitative over the qualitative. While there are other ways to draw the line, they are increasingly imprecise, ambiguous, misleading and inaccurate.

  84. Blunt Instrument says:

    And that is why so little ever gets accomplished in Washington any longer. People elect politicians to do what is right and what is best for the country, not what is politically expedient.

    I have the opposite opinion. Nothing gets accomplished because politicians are unwilling to do what is right and best for the country, and instead do what is politically expedient.

    Did Obama do what was best for the country? No. He cowed to the GOP in order to have someone to blame if it didn’t work. Did the GOP do what was in the best interest of the country? No. They benefit the wealthy at the expense of the middle-class and poor. Did the Dems do what was in the best interest of the country? No. They did what was expedient in the moment.

    Politicians serve no master but themselves.

  85. leveut says:

    “On the other hand, he did inherit a surplus, and made it a policy objective to get rid of that surplus. (Mission accomplished)”

    Did he? If we are going to use National Debt to the Penny

    “All data sourced from Treasury: Debt to the Penny (Daily History Search Application)”

    http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/pd/histdebt/histdebt_histo5.htm Historical Debt Outstanding – Annual 2000 – 2010

    and

    http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/pd/histdebt/histdebt_histo4.htm Historical Debt Outstanding – Annual 1950 – 1999

    We find these:

    09/30/2010 13,561,623,030,891.79
    09/30/2009 11,909,829,003,511.75
    09/30/2008 10,024,724,896,912.49
    09/30/2007 9,007,653,372,262.48
    09/30/2006 8,506,973,899,215.23
    09/30/2005 7,932,709,661,723.50
    09/30/2004 7,379,052,696,330.32
    09/30/2003 6,783,231,062,743.62
    09/30/2002 6,228,235,965,597.16
    09/30/2001 5,807,463,412,200.06
    09/30/2000 5,674,178,209,886.86
    09/30/1999 5,656,270,901,615.43
    09/30/1998 5,526,193,008,897.62
    09/30/1997 5,413,146,011,397.34
    09/30/1996 5,224,810,939,135.73
    09/29/1995 4,973,982,900,709.39
    09/30/1994 4,692,749,910,013.32
    09/30/1993 4,411,488,883,139.38
    09/30/1992 4,064,620,655,521.66

    Which says quite clearly, that in NO fiscal year from 1992 did the National Debt fail to increase. That is, in NO year was there a surplus. Which is to say:

    “”On the other hand, he did inherit a surplus”

    Is false.

    If you wish to substantiate that claim, you will have to learn to distinguish between “On-budget” and “OFF-budget” spending and receipts.

    If you use ONLY “ON-budget” accounting, then there was a surplus.

    But the National Debt to the penny tells the real story: spending ALWAYS exceeded revenue.

  86. Blunt Instrument says:

    @ DeDude:

    Give us the exact realistic actions that would allow Obama to “face these challenges and overcoming them”.

    I didn’t campaign for President; I don’t aspire to the job. However, Obama did, and got the job. Therefore, it is his responsibility, not mine, to determine the exact realistic actions that would accomplish his goals.

    It is my responsibility to evaluate his performance against the expected performance of the challengers and help determine who should get the job in January 2013.

  87. Blunt Instrument says:

    @ Edoc:

    During good times, the government should be running surpluses. During bad times, the government should be spending and running deficits.

    according to Keynes. There are other views. None of them have been established as fact.

  88. toddie.g says:

    “Tax cuts, the wars, and the prescription drug plan for seniors– all of these things continue to add to the deficit after Bush left office.

    Has Obama made it a part of his policy to repeal these costly programs?

    If Obama is, in fact, powerless to reverse the bad policy decisions of GWB, then he is ineffective. If he chooses not to reverse the bad policy decisions of GWB, then he is incompetent.

    Obama was stuck with major losses in revenues from the bad economy

    Granted, but he wasn’t drafted into the job – he sought it out. Therefore, it’s his responsibility to craft policy to address these problems.

    The “woe is me” routine is getting tired and worn out.”
    ——————————————–
    @ Blunt Instrument – Let me get this straight. The Republicans filibuster every Obama proposal in the Senate and vote against it in the Republican controlled House, including Obama tax cut proposals Republicans always favor, and Obama is incompetent because of their obstruction??

    You, sir, are a master of spin and propaganda. Congratulations.

  89. victor says:

    How much of Bush’s debt accumulation could have been avoided/reduced after the R’s lost control of House and Senate in 2006 ?

    Is the R controlled House, since 2010 preventing the Obama Admin. from increasing the debt?

    If you subtract what is owed to the SS Trust Fund from the total debt, the number looks a bit more palatable, some $10t by end 2011. Some consider the SS Trust Fund nothing more than an accounting fiction, others disagree, theoretically must be repaid on demand, but that’s a subject for another day.

    ~~~

    BR: You are flailing desperately to avoid accepting a simple fact that disagrees with your ideology.

    If you want to bring Congress into it, recall the GOP controlled both houses from 1994 to 2006 — what do you want to hold them responsible for ?

  90. Jojo says:

    @toddie.g – The Pubs have learned that Obama is a WIMP and that if they whine, threaten and throw temper tantrums like little children, that there is a near 100% chance that Obama will cave and give them most of what they want (such as a continuation of the supposed temporary Bush tax cuts that were set to expire under the guise of compromise). Obama just isn’t a fighter. The best he can do is get a little head of false steam worked up on the speech podium.

    I’m just guessing here but I’d wager that there are many ways that a president can [legally] make life difficult for those who oppose him. But doing that takes a certain constitution that Obama doesn’t have. We who voted for Obama (and are now disappointed) thought that he had the strength and willpower to take charge, but we were so desperate for some “hope and change” after the morass of two GWB terms, that a good speaker was able to misdirect and fool many of us.

    What we needed was an ass kicker like LBJ. What we got was a wimp completing the third term of GWB, who even going into his 4th year as president, isn’t cut out for the job.

  91. Like some of the commenters here, I am a political independent, and I detest the 2 party system. Democrats are inept, Republicans are clueless, I’d prefer to vote for a 3rd party over these 2.

    And as I have stated repeatedly over the years, mixing emotions and investing — and what is more emotional than politics? — is deadly

    That said, understand that this was pushback against an inaccurate and misleading argument about Presidential debt. Some people were creating spreadsheets using calendar year Jan1 to Dec 31 analyze debt by president. Of course, those dates are an irrelevant framework. However we want to modify the debt each president created, we MUST start with the budget each president submits to Congress.

    Using calendar dates moved much of Bush debt to Obama, and moved some of Clinton’s surplus to Bush
    This served to help exonerate Bush of the result of his budgets, which were monster deficit creators.

    While there are many ways to slice and dice this, the one that was most logical began with each President’s budget, and reflected the actual FY funding each president submitted

    Of course each President COULD begin by trying to undo the prior presidents work but, realistically, no president starts their term that way. And they begin with a clean slate to push their own agenda.

    My beef with Obama is he had an opportunity to clean up the banks / wall st and blew it. I have been critical of him for that reason.

    The Bush supporters will do everything they can to push his mess onto Obama, and I won’t tolerate their accounting sleight of hand. Some absurd % of GOP supporters believe Obama was the one who did TARP and the original bailouts.

    When we talk about debt, each president’s budget is his responsibility. Anything that misrepresents that merely gives bad ammunition to the people who want to misrepresent reality for their own purposes. I do not abide by that . . .

  92. Vivian Darkbloom says:

    Sorry, Barry, but nothing in your post indicated that use of the FY was the “starting point”. Everything suggested that it was the starting *and* ending point. As I indicated above, the actual deficit that occurs during a fiscal year may or may not have much to do with the “budget” submitted by the President. And, I’ve given two clear examples of this:

    1. Emergency spending measures are not included in the budget submitted to Congress and those “emergency measures” can and have contributed very significantly to the deficits and accumulated debt;

    -SNIP-

    BR: That is an interesting issue you raise. It is also one that is easily proven or disproven by data.

    I suggest you pull those numbers and show us how much of an impact that had. Otherwise, its just another vague and squishy narrative.

    SHOW ME THE MONEY!

  93. DeDude says:

    Amazing how many people are completely clueless (or willfully ignorant) about how our democracy works. “He is the boss so it’s his fault” as if we elected a CEO rather than a President. The civics lessons of divided power “checks and balances” and that other boring constitutional stuff is to much for the little pea brain to handle so its back to “he is the boss so its his fault”. For those of us who didn’t sleep through grade school it’s a little more complicated, but explaining it to the morons appears to be more than we can handle.

    What the founding fathers failed to imagine was a situation where the elected people, with support from large sections of the electorate, would develop the attitude of “my way or the highway – and I don’t care if the country falls apart”. The founding fathers did not imagine the level of immature dysfunction that we have in our political discourse today so they did not design the constitution to be able to deal with it – the result is the current constitutional crisis.

    @ Blunt instrument;

    What GWB had was an opposition that only used the filibuster every now and then. They never used it to sabotage the country so as to make the president fail and their guy more likely to win the next election.

    But we do agree that Keynes views are the only ones that have been established as facts. It’s like the question should government buy low and when there are huge cash back bonuses??- well, yeah, duh!!

  94. Vivian Darkbloom says:

    OK, Barry, I assume you are talking about the part that you edited out of my comment.

    Well, here it is. Let’s compare the Treasury Monthly TARP Report from the end of FY 2009 (ending September 30, 2009) with the Treasury TARP Report for the end of FY 2001 (ending September 30, 2011).

    http://www.treasury.gov/initiatives/financial-stability/briefing-room/reports/105/Documents105/105Report_10102009.pdf

    For FY end 2009, the Report shows $455 billion obligated under TARP and $80 billion in total amounts repaid or received as interest/dividends. Thus, per Treasury (from which you get your numbers) the total effect on FY 2009 deficit was minus $375 billion.

    For FY end 2011, the Report shows $470 billion obligated under TARP and $316 billion cash back. So, an additional $15 billion was obligated and an additional $236 billion was returned. One could argue about whether any of that additional $15 billion was part of the $236 billion returned, but let’s say FOFI and that the effect of the Bush TARP expenditures for FY 2009 was to *reduce* the Obama FY 2010 and 2011 deficits by $236 billion (this is the “Big Picture”). So, that’s a total swing of about $600 billion.

    http://www.treasury.gov/initiatives/financial-stability/briefing-room/reports/105/Documents105/September%202011%20105(a)%20Report.pdf

    As to the Emergency spending bill called the ARRA which took place after the inauguration, I guess I don’t need to remind you that the price tag, not part of the FY 2009 budget, was about $700 billion.

    I’m posting this in good faith, despite the fact that you’ve tried to tie one arm behind my back by “snipping” out the part of my earlier post you apparently don’t like. Can you at least be a sport?

  95. victor says:

    BR: I tried succinctly to determine what influence, if any D and R controlled Congresses would have had on the bottom line of each POTUS terms, using the FY dates. Couldn’t find any meaningful correlation, size of the sample, emergency measures per Vivian Darkbloom’s may obscure the influence of the Congress. Anecdotally, Bill Clinton spoke of his ability to work well with the R Congress. So, I am OK with attributing all changes in our nation’s debt to the respective POTUS. And everybody knows that Bush while advertising himself as deficit hawk, really broke the bank; but his VP mentor assured him that “deficits dont matter”…

    The word ideology still resonates badly with me having had the misfortune to live, together with my family under both fascism and communism. If you meant POLITICAL IDEOLOGY, than (surprise!) I am too an independent and vote accordingly. For example I dont fancy incumbents and NEVER vote for an unopposed candidate. The only thing that counts is the candidates’ policies backed by solid evidence.

    I now travel a lot abroad (tough on my old bones, cannot afford the 5 stars hotels and lavish expense accounts) and when I see THEIR problems, ours here look simple to fix by comparison. But our problems being mostly political rather than structural may, over time become structural if current trends are not somehow arrested and reversed.

  96. AlexM says:

    Most of what passes for political criticism has never changed, falsely blame the other guy for everything you think has gone wrong and falsely credit your guy for anything you think has gone right. Rinse, repeat. Actual facts are conveniently ignored if they do not fit the narrative du jour.

    There have always been liars, hypocrites, miscreants and obfuscators in government and the media pushing their agenda but it has been raised to an art form in the past thirty years by “entertainers” who parade as newsmen and those who profit from those lies.

    Thanks, Barry, for exposing some of those lies.

  97. Edoc says:

    @ Blunt Instrument

    “according to Keynes. There are other views. None of them have been established as fact.”

    Which view are you advocating? The prevailing “Run deficits during good times and cut spending during bad times”? All views are not equal, and some have more established facts than others. Too many people fail to make this distinction, and for others, established facts are persuasive in any case.

    Barry says he’s an independent, that there are things wrong with both parties. I agree, but I feel that the democrats are more fact-based and less ideologically driven. (I’m a former republican.) I would rather try to reform a party that is inept than work with a party driven by irrational sociopaths. You can only pick one party, and while they are both bad, they are not equally bad.

  98. Joe Friday says:

    leveut,

    If you use ONLY ‘ON-budget’ accounting, then there was a surplus.

    You are overlooking (or intentionally misleading) about a very important aspect of your comparisons. During the 12 years of Reagan/Poppy Bush, the Republicans chose to do the accounting in the manner that intentionally masked their ever-exploding federal budget deficits & debt, as a result of their failed economic policies.

    THEN, during Clinton’s two terms, when he was reducing the federal budget deficits every year, leading to federal budget surpluses and paying down the Reagan/Poppy Bush federal debt, the Republicans switched, and wanted to do the accounting in the manner you are insisting upon.

    THEN, when Chimpy Bush started squatting in the White House, the Republicans switched AGAIN, and went back to the accounting they used during the 12 years of Reagan/Poppy Bush AND placed ever more of the federal budget “off-budget”, to once again intentionally mask the massive federal deficits & debt as a result of their failed economic policies.

    According to the independent non-partisan Congressional Budget Office:

    1998 – $069 billion SURPLUS
    1999 – $126 billion SURPLUS
    2000 – $236 billion SURPLUS
    2001 – $128 billion SURPLUS

    BTW, the 2001 FY surplus (which was Clinton’s as Barry points out) would have been $75 billion larger, at $203 billion, if Chimpy Bush and the Republican Congressional Majority had not begun their folly by enacting failed tax cuts that overwhelming benefited the Rich & Corporate starting in the middle of that fiscal year. It was all downhill from there forward.

    I’m afraid that your comparison of apples and alligators would not even past muster in an Econ 101 class.

  99. davecjohnson says:

    Mistake: The Bush tax cuts were retroactive to the beginning of 2001.

  100. davecjohnson says:

    The Bush tax cuts were retroactive to the beginning of 2001.