Here is a quick look at total debt as accumulated by each US President.

Its kinda funny — how come so few people (especially those on the right) were all that upset about the massive surge in debt under Bush? Is it that they only recently kinda figured out the significance of debt — or are they are merely hypocrites when it comes to this sort of thing?

Whatever your political or economic views are, it is not up to me to tell you what to believe. However, you need to be intellectually consistent and not merely grab whatever ideological bullet point that suits your purposes at the moment. If you do so, you best be prepared to be charged with being intellectually dishonest, and to be categorized as called a political hack. Or worse.

When Romney wins in 2012, I expect most of the deficit hysteria to disappear.

This chart below is for the Austerians of today:

>

click for larger graphic

Source: Spiegel

Category: Credit, 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.

119 Responses to “US Debt Accumulation by President”

  1. Bob L says:

    They are divided into HYPOCRITES AND DENIERS OF REALITY AND PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN A SLIGHTLY FANTASY WORLD> TAKE YOUR PICK.

  2. MaxMax says:

    Bush isn’t black. The main thrust of the T Party wackoes is that a ‘mere knee-grow’ is president. Otherwise it’d be business as usual.

  3. EconStudent89 says:

    But but I thought it was all Obummers fault

  4. Global Eyes says:

    The chart shows there was a national debt before President Reagan but it was during his term that the national debt began its explosion. It was President Reagan who ordered Fed Chair Volker to STOP printing money (inflation) and START borrowing it which instead increased the National Debt. Conclusion: his reputation as a tax cutter is undeserved.

  5. Global Eyes says:

    The chart shows there was a national debt before President Reagan but it was during his term that the national debt began its explosion. It was President Reagan who ordered Fed Chair Volker to STOP printing money (inflation) and START borrowing it which instead increased the National Debt. Conclusion: his reputation as a tax cutter is undeserved.

  6. PDS says:

    Yes BR it is important to be “intellectually consitent”…..you are unfortunately comparing debt apples and oranges…..to be fair you must annualize the amt of debt taken on by each POTUS…if you do that…at current PA % increase (using your data) Obama is increasing debt at a rate of almost 8.5%pa…verus Bush 2 at 5.3%pa…if that rate is maintained…and assuming Obama gets another term ….he will win the debt increase sweepstakes with a 67% number…if he gets his latest stimulus passed, he might win it in his first term…impressive!!!

    ~~~

    BR: If you torture the data, you can get it to confess whatever you want – and you are torturing the data.

    To be REALLY fair, we should point out that Bush — who was a giant clusterfuck — inherited an economy that was running a surplus, and turned it into a deficit. And we should also mention that Obama — of whom I have little regard — inherited a giant shit show, just as the collapse was in full throat.

  7. BTW, if anyone wants to be on the fast track to my clueless fucktard list, all you have to is to rationalize the 8 years of destruction that Bush Jr wrought on this once great nation, and bingo — you are on my CFL.

  8. gkm says:

    “they only recently kinda figured out the significance of debt” – Could it be that debt was the actual bubble?

    And the bubble hasn’t completely popped just yet since some people can’t seem to get their heads around the fact you can’t fund a liability with an unfunded liability.

  9. MayorQuimby says:

    There is no rationalizing any of this bullcrap. Of course there is plenty of blame to go around with regards to both parties.

    But we are where we are and to repeat these same mistakes over and over again makes clueless fucktards of us all.

  10. wally says:

    “…or are they are merely hypocrites when it comes to this sort of thing?”

    The word “hypocrites” is a grain of sand compared to a desert for describing those people.

  11. Moss says:

    The Reagan ‘miracle’ was simply due to fact that his administration got the first-mover advantage in the debt super cycle. Appointing Greenspan as the issuer in chief set the stage for the perpetual policy.

    The Gipper was the perfect front man for the banksters scheme.

  12. A7L-B says:

    Do these values include all sources of debt? On budget? Off budget? Special appropriations? Extra special?

  13. MayorQuimby says:

    Ya know..I have to laugh out loud at some of you shills.

    The Tea Party’s original intent was to prevent this shit from happening again. Then they get coopted by the usual right wingers and then many of you go on DEFENDING OBAMA WHO IS PERPETRATING THE SAME!!!

    Who is really the hypocrite here?!!!

  14. Tory Dutton says:

    How about breaking this down by percent per day in office? I’m sure things would look different. I know it will by the time Obama is finished.

    Anyway, let’s say they all racked up too much debt. What’s the solution to the problem? Big government tax and spend style Socialism?

    I could accept stimulative investments to make this country more globally competitive….. We don’t have that. We have an inept community organizer wasting money.

  15. PDS says:

    Torturing the data BR?…no just being ‘intellectually consistent”…and honest….and to be fair…Bush also inherited an economic mess…started with the Dot Gone Bubble bursting and a recession..followed by 9/11 in the first few months of his presidency….gotta look at the Big Picture BR!

  16. PeakVT says:

    “It was President Reagan who ordered Fed Chair Volker blah blah blah”

    First, the President can’t order the FRB to do jack. Second, the FRB led by Volker started raising rates again in 1979, after they had been held steady for eight months. He could do that because it was Carter that first selected him to be head of the FRB, not Reagan.

  17. JimRino says:

    Lets remember the Reagan Administration, not Reagan, was one of the most corrupt in history.

    Secondly, “Obama’s Debt” includes the Doubling of the US Food Stamp program, Stimulus, and Unemployment extensions, all caused by the CATASTROPHIC Bush Administration.

    Who knows, it may take 16 YEARS to clean up the 8 years of Rampant Corporate Fraud unleashed by Bush and Crooks. Then there the cost of the Iraq War, where Clairvoyant Cheney just KNEW there were “weapons of mass distraction” [ Translation 25 Trillion Dollars of Iraq Oil ].

    Iraq War Cost: 4 Trillion Dollars falls into Obama’s “budget”.

    There’s something wrong, mentally, with anyone still calling themselves a “Republican”.

  18. paulie46 says:

    Government Deficit = Private Sector surplus

    ∑Deficits/Surplus’ = ∑Private Sector Surplus’/Deficits.

    National Debt™ = World SAVINGS of dollar assets (Savings = Income – Consumption)

    So, should the private sector run a surplus or deficit?

  19. philipat says:

    At this point, it really makes very little difference WHO ran up the debt but that something has to be done about developing a firm plan to reduce it from these critical levels. It doesn’t have to be done immediately but the problem is that allowing the politicians a delay because of current economic conditions, plays right into their hands and virtually guarantees that the debt will go North not South.

    The Faux Noise use of the data is interesting. They just lie and stste that “Half of our debt is from Obama” whilst ignoring the Bush years completely. I nominate them for your list Barry.

  20. wunsacon says:

    MayorQuimby, who’s “defending” Obama? We’ll “defend” him in so far as we point out right-winger hypocrisy in staying silent about deficits during Dubya’s run while now going absolutely postal about Obama’s deficits.

    I don’t recall left-wingers yelling about deficits during 2001-2008. I recall them mainly complaining about the war and theocracy. And if you read non-corporate left-wing blogs, you’ll see left-wingers complaining about Obama embracing Dubya’s war record (and record on most everything else).

  21. Cult of Reason says:

    Actually Barry, if you want to be truly “intellectually consistent” and honest (as you are pretending to be, but the left-wing bias is steaming out of your ears), the source of the data is left-wing biased NYT (it clearly states on the bottom).

    As usual, opinionated and biased NYT assigns some of Obama’s debt to Bush and compares cumulative 8 years of Bush presidency to 2 years of Obama’s.

    As far as Clinton’s “prosperity”, Bush inherited the collapse of Clinton’s internet bubble and 9/11 attach (product of Clinton’s ignorance).

    ~~~

    BR: If you want to challenge the numbers, feel free to — but merely barking “NYT” doesn’t cut it.

    While W did inherit the dotcom crash, the 2001 recession was relatively mild — certainly nothing compared to 2007-09 recession.

    .

  22. Cult of Reason says:

    BTW, I am not defending Bush. He was a very bad president, and Bush is the reason the country is tortured by a completely clueless and amazingly incompetent community organizer today.

  23. bear_in_mind says:

    Thanks for sharing, Barry. These numbers don’t lie, despite the protestations of a number of ill-informed posters.

    @Cult of Reason: When you assert that 9/11 is the responsibility of Bill Clinton’s administration (product of his ignorance); and Bush is the reason the McCain/Palin ticket failed to win the 2008 general election… all I can say is holy crap! Denial and ignorance truly run deep.

  24. ThatsNotAll says:

    Bush put his signature on TARP. I do not know of a self-avowed “Austrian” economist who defends TARP or any of the Bush fiscal excesses.

    BR, if you have an argument against Austrian economics you ought to actually make that argument. Bush fiscal policies did not fail because of Austrian economics. They failed because he accommodated ever increasing levels of government spending.

    Did you know Clinton / Gingrich realized some of the lowest increases in government spending in the past 30 years? Did you know that BR? Lower increases in government spending resulted in a balanced budget. Not only that but this happened when the lowest 50% of income earners paid 4% of all income taxes. Today they pay less than 3% of all income taxes.

    Perhaps a government policy where the “poor” paid more taxes and the government spending increased at much lower rates is the one that will work best. Is that Austrian? It is certainly not Keynesian. What is irrefutable is that it worked. So why not try it again?

  25. wunsacon says:

    America, this evening’s special is the “lower taxes*, higher spending” free lunch. It includes a Washington Caesar salad, topped with bunga bunga cherries and drenched with oil imported from our colonies. Dessert is a smart phone surprise, served with a sermon on American exceptionalism.

    (* The bill will include our mandatory inflation gratuity of 18%.)

    Thank you for dining with us.

  26. MayorQuimby says:

    EVERYONE please click on this.

    http://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2011/2/28/saupload_total_credit_market_debt_vs.gdp_.png

    Sure Bush was the worst offender by far. But the concept of deficit spending and excessive credit was not his nor was he the sole perpetrator. He was a politician and a dumb one at that.

    Let’s focus on the criminal pulls his and obamas string hmkay?

  27. MayorQuimby says:

    Correction: criminals pulling…damned iPad corrective text sucketh!

  28. royrogers says:

    anyway you look at this, Bush looks like an idiot.

  29. sideshow.bob says:

    BR how about a post on when tribalism gone wrong leads to the demise of any organization?

    Why isn’t anyone pointing out the obvious!? THE SPENDING ON BOTH SIDES ARE OUT OF CONTROL! Since when is our standard of comparison: not as bad as the other side? It would be very refreshing to see the same level of passion demonstrated in the comments thus far directed at a standard of excellence. BOTH administrations have let the people they serve down. The only things that are certain from the numbers is that our debt is out of control and we (the electorate on both sides) are the ones who will be paying the bill.

  30. wunsacon says:

    >> Did you know Clinton / Gingrich realized some of the lowest increases in government spending in the past 30 years?

    Those were the few years of the “peace dividend” after the fall of the Soviet Union, when despite their lobbying dollars the MIC failed to buy enough votes to push through increased military spending. Afterwards, we heard — from the wing nuts (not all right-wingers) — how Clinton “destroyed” the military and how we had to start spending more again.

    >> What is irrefutable is that it worked. So why not try it again?

    It’s “irrefutable” that 70% marginal tax rates on the upper class worked better. So, why not try it again?

  31. Soylent Green Is People says:

    Last time I checked it was Congress who sent spending bills to the Executive Branch. Re-work the numbers showing who was running Congress at the time and we’ll have an adult conversation.

    PS -I agree the problem was Bush’s Administration greenlighting both guns and butter programs. There is no excuse for that behavior. Still, with two terms running up that kind of tab, compared to this Community Organizer’s spending in just 3 years, it’s a pretty rough match who is really spending more than the other.

  32. rd says:

    EVERYBODY knows that Republican deficits are irrelevant at worst but potentially beneficial while Democratic deficits are always very bad, possibly evil, but certainly communist (which means they are evil).

    The reasons for this difference are simple. Basically, Republicans are genetically incapable of wasting government money and therefore the deficits always provide good economic return or are for critical national secutiry reasons. Besides, they don’t mean to run deficits so you just know that the Republicans will run get back to a balanced budget if they are just elected often enough.

    However, Democrats are incapable of spending money efficiently and therefore Democratic deficits provide no value as the money is simply thrown away into a black hole, usually a unionized black hole. Also, the Democrats don’t believe that running a government in anything but deficit mode is acceptable.

    BTW, if you have data that shows something different from these models, the data are clearly in error because they were probably collected by government employees.

  33. tselliott says:

    Yeah, kind of hate it when this blog dives down into the political muck. Truth be told, none of this debt is JUST the POTUS’ fault. Congress is just a responsible.
    ————-
    The U.S. Constitution vests Congress with the powers to tax, spend, and pay the debts of the federal government. Legislation to carry out these functions must either be:

    1) passed by majorities in both houses of Congress and approved by the President; or
    2) passed by majorities in both houses of Congress, vetoed by the President, and then passed by two-thirds of both houses of Congress; or
    3) passed by majorities in both houses of Congress and left unaddressed by the President for ten days.

  34. rd says:

    @thatsnot all

    A pimary reason that the poor paid 4% of taxes instead of the 3% today is because the top couple of percent have taken the vast majority of the income gains since the Clinton/Gingrich era.

    The most sustainable economies with long-term growth have occurred during period of greater income equality. Financial inequality results in financial crises and, at the extremes, revolutions.

  35. the pearl says:

    Wow, who knew Presidents had such power.

  36. the pearl says:

    @tselliott,

    Don’t let details get in the way when political ideology is at stake.

  37. paulie46 says:

    Much of this conversation is disingenuous – The recession created by the GFC reduced tax receipts by about $600 Billion a year. Add $200 Billion a year for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and we have more than half the debt accumulated untethered from Obama, unless you expected him to end the wars and fix the economy in a few months. I don’t expect anything from him because like the right his economic policies are disastrous for the middle class/working man.
    It takes an additional $540 Billion per year to offset the loss in dollars from the trade deficit.

    This nasty economy is here for many years if not decades if we don’t find some way to de-leverage the private sector.
    Cutting spending will have the opposite effect and the economy will crash worse than it ever has.

    The armchair economists here need to get a clue.

  38. scottinnj says:

    What evidence is there that any Republican since Bush 41 takes deficit reduction seriously? There is alot of evidence that they want to keep taxes very low then when the proverbial feces strike the cylandrical motion machine they may cut spending (except on the old, who are their core constituency).

    Secondly what evidence is there that a McCain/Palin administration would have had a materially different outcome? Perhaps they would have signed a $600Bn stimulus plan instead of $800 bn, but what else would have been that different.

  39. paulie46 says:

    Oh, and could somebody define deficits and debt and who/where did we borrow it from?

  40. arbitrage789 says:

    I wouldn’t call myself an “austerian”.

    But I think that piling on the debt at a rate of $1T per year is quite sufficient.

    No doubt that Obama would love to double that rate… or even triple it… but the point is, being opposed to a deficit in excess of $1T doesn’t make one an “asterian” (in my semantic system).

  41. old trader says:

    BR,

    Why is figuring the numbers on p/a basis “torturing the data”?

  42. wunsacon says:

    Paulie, we borrowed it from the fractional sausage factories on Wall Street (who buy our debt with our own toilet paper) and some foreign suckers, whom we can liquidate over time through continued printing.

  43. disfiguredskating says:

    I don’t like Bush and I don’t like Obama. I have seen this used to defend Obama so many times. The problem with this data is that it is misleading on a couple points.

    First, Obama has been in office for ONLY 3 years. That is a shitload for only 3 years. He inherited a shitstorm, BUT if you accept that then you have to accept that Bush inherited the dot com crash which was huge too and on top of that 9/11 happened during the recovery. Not an excuse, just a fact. Doesn’t justify his wars or tax cuts which were stupid.

    Second, the total percent is not telling a necessarily true story because of the dollars. 1980 dollars are worth less than today’s dollars.

    Third, I find that Presidents are men in a time period and sometimes they luck out. Reagan spent, that was his deal, but it was for a purpose (some will claim). Clinton got lucky with the internet boom and experienced a lot of luck in terms of economic performance that Bush paid for with the crash and rising commodity prices. Bush got lucky with the real estate bubble and now Obama is paying for that along with the wars. Soon another President will pay for his shitty policies regarding Healthcare. It is the nature of the beast.

    Lastly, both parties are complicit. To what degree is irrelevant. It is like arguing that the guy in front of you is worse off in a plane crash because he will die a nanosecond before you. Each President has had to deal with congress and their own situations. The only thing this chart tells us is that Obama is not the answer and we are moving in the wrong direction and even then there are people who would disagree with that based on Keynesian policy.

    ~~~

    BR: Its not defending Obama — in 3 years he out did most president’s debt accumulation, and only the gross fiscal train wreck that is Bush out spent him — but the point is that this is politics, not economics. When Romney wins, watch the budget deficit argument disappear.

  44. paulie46 says:

    @wunsacon

    Where did they get the money? I mean money has to exist before it can be borrowed.

    I don’t mean credit, which is all that banks can issue. Banks do not have the power to issue debt-free money (dollars). Nor do foreign entities. Only the Treasury can do that (through government spending).

  45. Holy Cow!

    more of this (D)/(R)-idiocy?

    We’d be better off worshiping the ‘Golden Calf’ (or, is that what We Are doing?)
    ~~

    and, re: the use of “Austerian”..

    “…BR, if you have an argument against Austrian economics you ought to actually make that argument. Bush fiscal policies did not fail because of Austrian economics. They failed because he accommodated ever increasing levels of government spending….”
    ~~

    though, really, this ‘Chart’ is the worst kind of Agitprop..

    “Kindly, ignore (as ‘the Government’ does) the Founding Charter–The Constitution..

    “…Wow, who knew Presidents had such power…” — the “President”, per The Constitution, never did..

    http://appropriations.house.gov/

    ….Section 9.
    The migration or importation of such persons as any of the states now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person.

    The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.

    No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

    No capitation, or other direct, tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to the census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.

    No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any state.

    No preference shall be given by any regulation of commerce or revenue to the ports of one state over those of another: nor shall vessels bound to, or from, one state, be obliged to enter, clear or pay duties in another.

    No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law; and a regular statement and account of receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time.

    No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state….
    http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/articlei

    “…No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law; and a regular statement and account of receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time…”

  46. paulie46 says:

    “…BR, if you have an argument against Austrian economics you ought to actually make that argument. Bush fiscal policies did not fail because of Austrian economics. They failed because he accommodated ever increasing levels of government spending….”

    Actually he accommodated ever DECREASING levels of government TAXATION…

  47. Irwin Fletcher says:

    You start with a false assumption. Give credit to those on the right (a lot of us) who were screaming the whole time that GWB was spending like a drunken sailor. It is not accurate or fair to throw every conservative in the boat with GWB and now call them hypocrites. Many, many of us were jumping all over GWB and never supported his irresponsible fiscal mismanagement.

    The infamous “Petey Wheatstraw” consistently points out the Obama is not a liberal. In the same vein, Bush was NOT a conservative. Not with those fiscal policies, no way!

    It’s an easy “dodge” to let BHO off the hook and just blame Bush. Sure I blame Bush. He was terrible.
    So what? Let’s talk about the moron who currently writes the checks and blows up the deficit.

  48. biglot says:

    During the Bush administration, it was standard practice not to pay for things. Orrin Hatch

  49. paulie46 says:

    @Irwin Fletcher

    You obviously didn’t read my post at 9:56.

  50. wunsacon says:

    >> paulie46 Says:
    >> Where did they get the money? I mean money has to exist before it can be borrowed.

    Supposedly, a fraction of the money “has” to exist, somewhere. But, if the fraction is reduced, suddenly a lot more money can be borrowed against that same small pile of “existing money”.

    Also, through his studies, Steve Keen says he sees evidence that credit-creation leads buildups in reserves. Maybe the latter is an insufficient check on credit creation. Maybe that’s one reason we are where we are.

  51. rectorstreetbp says:

    BR, et al—- to be intellectually honest, let ye not forget that mssrs. clinton & bobby rubin gave birth to one of the biggest accounting frauds of the last thirty years when they stated and were allowed to get away with the balance budget myth.. sure the budget was balanced IF one assumed GDP would grow >5.0% for ten years straight.

    This was far worse than Enron, Worldcom, or anything the risk departments at any bank other than LEH did. Only rivaled by the accounting fraud of the EU countries since a fortnight after the Mastricht treaty was signed.

    Sorry, but this balanced budget myth, if you don’t like fraud, makes the chart not too meaningful.

    ~~~

    BR: I excorciated both in Bailout Nation

  52. wunsacon says:

    Paulie, agree with your post @ 9:56. The deficit is “blowing up” because tax revenues from Ponzi economic activity vanished.

  53. 4whatitsworth says:

    Yes, George Bush Jr was a dumb ass and got us in to very expensive situations like Iraq and yes it looks like Obama is spending at about the same rate. Now who thinks that more government is the answer?

  54. paulie46 says:

    @wunsacon

    My question was a leading question. The point I’m trying to make is you can’t increase the money supply without creating the money first, then you borrow.

    The Fed increases bank reserves (dollars), then the Treasury issues T-securities to the banks in exchange for their reserves. In this way the government borrows from itself. Since the only liability lies on the government side of the ledger there is no obligation to pay it back – the private sector has no liability for anything on the government side of the ledger other than taxes.

  55. paulie46 says:

    @ 4whatitsworth

    How is more spending related to more government? Every year the economy grows. It follows that government spending would grow with it. The discussion we should be having is what we spend the money on. Without spending there is no economy.

  56. infinitiplus1 says:

    It matters not who caused the problem at this point. The math is clear though. A debt that is climbing faster than the economy is growing is unsustainable. When will we choose to take our medecine? A depression is already baked into the cake by any reasonable forecast of possible futures. When is the question. Obama is kicking the can down the road just like bush did. We better stop before that can, loaded with concrete and attached to our leg, is kicked off the end of the pier.

  57. holulu says:

    Enjoy Kyle Bass. This guy is brilliant. He sure trash Bernanke around 33 minute mark.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWgtzwqWh60

  58. DSS10 says:

    Deficits incurred by an administration is a trailing indacator. I think declining tax revenue due to either lack of GDP growth or tax cuts is the real driver for the chart above. No administration or congress has every made a real impact on Reducing the total level government expenditures. Just as Obama was handed a bucket of shit to make brownies from GW, Reagan walked into a total economic debacle in 80 (how quickly we forget those wonderful days…..).

  59. RW says:

    “It’s an easy “dodge” to let BHO off the hook and just blame Bush. Sure I blame Bush. He was terrible.
    So what? Let’s talk about the moron who currently writes the checks and blows up the deficit.”

    No.

    The “easy dodge” is screwing things up and then attempting to dodge the bullet by arguing that we need to talk about “now” rather than how that screw up was condoned and sanctioned.

    Nobody gets to “talk about the moron who currently writes the checks” until the morons who laid the foundation for this debacle are dealt with because that foundation is still there: fiddling with the superstructure still leaves us with the rubble upon which it was built and that is where the problem lies.

    That and the false equivalence smoke screens thrown up to prevent everyone from seeing the crap foundation that forty years of supply-side, pseudo-libertarian thought laid.

  60. Concerned Neighbour says:

    As was so predictable when he got elected, Obama is being blamed for the last 30 years of government fiscal mismanagement. Some blame him because he’s black, some blame him because they’re ideologues, and others – perhaps the majority – blame him because they’re batshit stupid.

    Government spending tends to go up in recession at the same time revenues go down. It’s a basic economic fact. All the hardcore right-wing economic experts out there should know this from Econ 101.

    But by all means, it’s all Obama’s fault. And we wonder why more good people aren’t running for office when the average American shows the capacity for rational thought of a goldfish.

    (And BTW, I’m not a fan of Obama’s by any means).

  61. 4whatitsworth says:

    @paulie46, true without spending there is no economy. My point is that not all spending is the same if I work hard on a farm, save and buy a cow, then sell the milk and make enough to buy another cow then hire someone to milk the cows that is a good economy. If I save then give my money to someone that does not want to take a job milking a cow or cleaning a barn because they think that work is beneath them that is a bad economy.

    Also, it would be difficult to find any evidence that more spending does not equal more government here is a chart of government spending as a percentage of GDP http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/us_20th_century_chart.html

  62. Joe Friday says:

    Cult of Reason,

    As far as Clinton’s “prosperity”, Bush inherited the collapse of Clinton’s internet bubble

    Do you have any idea how TINY the so-called “internet bubble” was in contrast to the entire national economy ? Not to mention there were no recessions during Clinton’s two terms, so there was nothing to “inherit” but prosperity.

    and 9/11 attach (product of Clinton’s ignorance).

    Eh, 9/11 happened 8 months after Clinton left office, after warning the Bushies that their major threat was al-Qaeda. The Bushies ignored that warning to concentrate on regurgitating the fantasy of a Star Wars missile defense and seeking and excuse to illegally invade and occupy Iraq. They then all went on vacation after receiving the “Bin Laden Determined To Strike In United States” Presidential Memo.

    I’m buyin’ the “cult” part, but I ain’t buyin’ the “reason” part.

  63. Joe Friday says:

    ThatsNotAll,

    Lower increases in government spending resulted in a balanced budget.

    Nope.

    The federal budget surpluses during the Clinton administration were overwhelmingly as a result of increased revenue, early on from increasing taxes on the Rich & Corporate, later even more so from a robust economy.

  64. Joe Friday says:

    4whatitsworth,

    Also, it would be difficult to find any evidence that more spending does not equal more government here is a chart of government spending as a percentage of GDP

    Yet another one who doesn’t comprehend that fractions have denominators.

  65. James Cameron says:

    This may provide a little more detail for the Bush and Obama administrations:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/24/opinion/sunday/24sun4.html

    though the data is a little dated. I did not find a source for the graph in the Spiegel link, though the total US public debt sits is now a little less than 14.9, a half trillon higher than what’s shown in the chart here.

  66. victor says:

    It would be instructive to super impose the color of the Congress throughout the Presidencies as depicted in the pie chart. Congress holds the strings to the purse as POTUS “sets the agenda”. As I recall, Nixon and later Reagan always complained about the D Congress not doing this or that. Clinton worked well with a R Congress. Obama’s luck ran out in 2010 when he “lost” the HR but he still has the Senate to rely upon.

  67. mddwave says:

    I have made a graph of the “slope” of the debt growth rate.
    The Reagan period is the champion from 1982 to 1985 at around 15% per year.
    Obama is a close second from 2009 to 2011 at around 13% per year.
    George Bush Sr. is third from 1989 to 1992 at around 11 % per year.
    George Bush Jr. is fourth from 2002 to 2007 at around 7% per year with a 10% spike in 2008.

    Assuming the same “slope” for Obama, there will be around 16.5 trillion debt in 2013. Obama will have six trillion in his four years right on par with Bush Jr.

  68. MacroEconomist says:

    Barry, I am reading from Asia this blame game thread to a very simple FACT that you pointed out.

    Sitting back here after 3 years, seeing the massive development versus devolving of the U.S., and I realize just how screwed the U.S. is and quite frankly how fucked up American culture is. News Flash, America is behind. It’s already happened. The IPOD is not the only bloody invention ever.

    Throughout the 80′s when I was in school and Chinese and Indians were the butt of movies and racial stereotypes, they continued to follow their cultural values. Those who are second and third generation have been corrupted by modern American culture.

    Perhaps when Asia gets to a sufficient income level so as to become lazy enough to argue rather than do, the devolution can end.

    Just some random thoughts about an absolutely ridiculous discourse upon simple facts you mentioned.

  69. mock turtle says:

    # MayorQuimby Says:
    October 16th, 2011 at 8:37 pm
    “And let’s not pretend Clinton was not to blame as well:”
    http://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2011/2/28/saupload_total_credit_market_debt_vs.gdp_.png


    sir you are misleading with a distorted graph,,,the question is , was it an error or deliberate?

    your graph doesnt show the percent of total credit attributable to the federal government

    does your graph include household and corporate contributions to the total credit market debt?

    the government portion of total credit market debt narrowed during the 90s and clinton deserves some of the credit as does bush senior.

    using unified budget numbers which include all forms of income including fica taxes…the same method we used before and after clinton…clinton delivered a balanced budget towards the end of his term of office, and dumbya inherited that trend in his first year but soon effed it up

    apparently it pains you to acknowledge a democrat delivered balanced budgets

    acknowlege your error if you are honorable

    ps plus your graph is destorted…B Ritholtz published the correct graph two years ago under the heading jalopy economy and i trust his graph over yours

  70. [...] Your debt accumulation pie chart, Mr. [...]

  71. dougc says:

    If debt is the problem then logically more debt is not the solution so how do we reduce the debt level; increase taxes or reduce spending will cause slower growth, less revenue and then higher deficits. Then we can repeat the cycle until we have the situation that is Greece today. We are in the situation like a healthy 40 year old decided to smoke 4 packs of cigarettes a day for 30 years and discovers he has lung cancer and demands a cure. They called it VooDoo economics for a reason, you cannot balance the budget by reducing taxes. Foisted on our own pitard comes to mind.
    Trade deficits require debt creation but we are told “free trade” will self correct deficits “eventually”.

  72. BusSchDean says:

    Good to see agreement => We need to increase taxes, “trickle-down economics” is a fraud, and when we have a war we should raise the money to pay for it.

    Whose fault is it? Now there we lack agreement at the margins (i.e., who had to eat whose policies). Knowing who is at fault helps only if: a) we intend to somehow to punish them (not likely) and b) we can prevent similar wrong-headed thinking from having a future impact, in which case we need to focus on the thinking and not the person. But we know what we have to do.

  73. budhak0n says:

    Busy weekend.

    What’s wrong with being intellectually dishonest in a world that is blatantly financially dishonest?

    Just thinking through the fingers ;-0

  74. budhak0n says:

    @dougc…..

    Here’s your real problem. The “cancer” when it comes to the money issues does not belong to the younger generations. The financial cancer is strictly the property of the greatest generation and our problem at it’s very core is in how to resolve their bankruptcy.

  75. BusSchDean says:

    budh: The “greatest generation” refers to those who fought in WWII and are now pushing 80 or more. The “baby boomers” of which I am one is not of that generation.

    That said, we do have a responsibility to minimize the impact of debt on the next generation. We will not eliminate that impact just like it will take some time before we can rebuild the middle class (if and when), a point made clear at TBP conference.

  76. PDS says:

    BR….this is not a political statementt about POTUS…just an observation….simply put in the Big Picture and setting setting aside partisanship …in the words of Peggy Noonan who initially went off the GOP reservation when he was elected…..”He Made It Worse”……but then as you always say, politics don”t matter when it comes to markets…correct?

  77. Greg0658 says:

    good thread .. lots of thoughts/concepts .. but going to highlight > paulie46 @9:56 pm bringing in the trade deficit and that carry .. also infinitiplus1 @11:19 pm good analogy and point / but we are geared to save selfs job 1st then bigger picture (its in our dna) .. gotta find next > 4whatitsworth @11:49 pm good farm story ie: better business less good business to be in (and the big picture here in USAs GDP aka: non exportable fluffy jobs but burning imports in doing so)

  78. paulie46 says:

    @4whatitsworth

    I understand your logic but disagree with your premise. It’s true that on balance it is better to spend money on useful things rather than give it to non-productive spenders, but the fact is that not every transaction in the spending chain can be productive. The circulation of money will eventually move it to those that would be productive. The important thing is the circulation – money will continue to move through the economy until it is either saved or taxed away. One thing for sure, poor people will spend every penny they are given – good for the economy.

    As for your graph it shows that government spending had been increasing at a steady rate for 80 years and has actually leveled off over the past 30.

    Forgotten in all the sturm and drang over government spending is that the economy could not function without government support and avoid devastating unemployment.
    90% of our workforce produces enough to supply 25% of the worlds output and everything Americans need. Why would businesses hire the other 10%?

  79. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    Wrote this last night (would have been the 1st or 2nd comment), but forgot to post it. In hindsight, it looks somewhat prophetic:

    Conservative ideology expressed in a pie chart. Get ready for challenges regarding this chart (everything from questioning the underlying data and methodology to complaining about the source being biased). It would be helpful if there were also charts showing income earned and Federal taxes paid by percentile and corporate/individual, and overall Federal tax revenues collected.

    MaxMax:

    Obama is as big a Corporatist whore as Bush ever was. Despite that, many people detest him for his (D) label and/or his pigmentation.

    Conservative ideology expressed in a pie chart. Get ready for challenges regarding this chart (everything from questioning the underlying data and methodology to complaining about the source being biased). It would be helpful if there were also charts showing income earned and Federal taxes paid by percentile and corporate/individual, and overall Federal tax revenues collected.

    MaxMax:

    Obama is as big a Corporatist whore as Bush ever was. Despite that, many people detest him for his (D) label and/or his pigmentation.

    Global Eyes:

    I think you’re wrong about Volcker. In fact, it was exactly opposite of his Fed policies causing inflation. Carter appointed him, and he raised interest rates, radically, in order to stop the inflation brought about by Nixon’s depegging of the dollar from gold (and, if you were around and aware of economics back then, resulted in Nixon instituting a wage/price freeze for 3 months, or so. Talk about your free market economy. Sheesh).

    IMO, the reason Reagan began the debt binge was because he knew that we had the world over a barrel (having a dollar that was both fiat and the world’s reserve currency), and that we could always settle our debt in weak/cheap dollars — something we could still do at the stroke of a pen.

  80. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    Irwin Fletcher Says:

    “The infamous “Petey Wheatstraw” consistently points out the Obama is not a liberal.”
    ______________

    Thank You, Irwin Fletcher. There is no such thing as bad press.

  81. [...] Such a great graph — and a great h/t The Big Picture. [...]

  82. econimonium says:

    You had me going there Barry until you kept saying “When Romney becomes president”….

    Here’s what is going to happen: The R’s can’t stand Romney, that much is obvious. Actually no one can really stand him and his “I was for this before I was against it” is going to kill him in the general election. If I were a marketing guy, I could only lick my chops with sheer glee at the thought of putting together anti-Romney campaign ads. Furthermore the complete trainwreck clusterfuck in Congress now is going to bite all the R’s on the ass. Toss in this new protest movement and you have a perfect storm brewing.

    I’m an R actually Barry but, ummm….so is Obama by the standards of only 20 years ago. The R’s now are complete nutjobs. Look at the comments here! The data is wrong because the left-wing commie-pinko (surely anyone using “socialist” etc is just old and cranky, since the vast number of people 30 and under have no knowledge of any cold war mentality stuff) NYT provided it? Arguments about Regan that are completely revisionist? (he’d be considered a moderate D now) Crackpot Austrian economics that belongs on Mish’s blog? (clearly Krugman is right, so let’s just admit it) And the Teabaggers??? Crazy, old, “I didn’t get what I wanted in life and now I’m going to take your future away too, sonny” would be the way to describe the movement…and I throw in racist because, you know, it’s really the root of a lot of the white people anger. And Cain? Really? He’s the new darling? I can’t think of a better puppet boy for plutocratic intent, not to mention someone responsible for terrible pizza.

    So here’s a bet for you – by the time the election comes Obama wins, the Senate passes the 60 mark with Dems making it filibuster proof and the House falls to Democrats. Clean sweep in 2012 because tons of Rs will just not vote because of Romney ennui. I’ll buy you coffee. But not the commie-pinko Starbucks ones ;) So start writing the congrats letter to Pelosi for getting the Speaker’s job back :)

  83. blackvegetable says:

    Dear Dead Enders, Members of the Cult of the 4th Wire Landing, and other Bunker Dwellers!

    When rising to the defense of your Beloved Monkey Fuehrer, please speak into your Lugers.

    Much obliged….

    Blackvegetable – American

  84. Edoc says:

    Someone said: “Did you know Clinton / Gingrich realized some of the lowest increases in government spending in the past 30 years?”

    I hear this quite often– usually when someone wants to attribute the budget successes of the 90′s to the GOP. And I’m not directly challenging this, but the spending was also low for Clinton’s first two years even before the republican Congress arrived on the scene.

    Budget Outlays under Clinton
    Year +/-$ % Growth
    1993 27.9 2.0
    1994 52.4 3.7
    1995 53.9 3.7
    1996 44.7 2.9
    1997 40.7 2.6
    1998 51.4 3.2
    1999 49.3 3.0
    2000 87.2 5.1
    Average 50.9 3.28

    http://www.cbo.gov/budget/data/historical.pdf

  85. DrSandman says:

    Apparently you-all missed the conservative furor @ GWB, as well. I suggest taking a break from the 15 minutes of hate to LISTEN to what us Tea Partiers are saying:

    We opposed cronyism (c.f., Harriet Meyers), corporatism (c.f. no-bids to oil services), No Child’s Behind Left Alone Act, Dept. of Homeland Security, The new DNI, nation-building in South Central Asia, nation-building in SW Asia, Welfare handouts to Medicare part whatever it was, EPA overreaches, etc….

    And a clue to all you haters: BHO wasted more in Keynsian stimulus in 2 years than we have spent on the Iraq war in 10 years. How about complaining about that?

    Join us Tea Partiers in denouncing wasteful spending!! Besides, we shower and have prettier females!

    Bush was and is by all objective measures a liberal. The only thing that was “conservative” about him was his evangelical faith, and since leftists generally permit religious bigotry, it’s OK to tar him with the conservative brush.

    The only possible way that GWB is “conservative” is when comparing to the current hard-leftists currently pulling BHO’s strings.

    I am curious? How, exactly, is BHO a republican-lite? What policies has he enacted that are “conservative”? All I see are Juan Peron-style corporofascism (“Public-private partnerships”) as far as the eye can see. I’m not talking about speeches, which don’t count. Actions matter, and BHO’s actions are hard-core leftist.

  86. DMR says:

    Maybe it’s because I was still a toddler when Reagan came to office, but come on, seriously? This whole comment section looks like a bunch of ageing boomers arguing about whose penis has more warts.

  87. [...] we looked at percentage of debt by US President. Today, we are looking at debt by [...]

  88. Edoc says:

    DrSandman said: “BHO wasted more in Keynsian stimulus in 2 years than we have spent on the Iraq war in 10 years.”

    Politifact.com: Did the stimulus cost more than the war in Iraq?
    Rating: Mostly False
    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2010/aug/25/mark-tapscott/did-stimulus-cost-more-war-iraq/

    ~~~

    BR: Other estimates have put the Iraq war at 3 trillion.

    But wont someone remind us the advantages are of invading the wrong country versus, say fixing bridges and roads . . . ?

  89. spm63 says:

    B.R.

    I note that you used the phrase “When Romney wins . . .” Also, obviously, you strongly dislike W. So how about post with a thorough one-stop critique of Obama’s economic policies, including his health care bill?

    ~~~

    BR: See

    The Tragedy of the Obama Administration
    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2010/11/the-tragedy-of-the-obama-administration/

  90. Joe Friday says:

    Petey,

    IMO, the reason Reagan began the debt binge was because he knew that we had the world over a barrel (having a dollar that was both fiat and the world’s reserve currency), and that we could always settle our debt in weak/cheap dollars

    Nah.

    The reason was the same then as is it just was under Chimpy Bush. The American RightWing has this pet little theory called “Starve The Beast”. The intent is to dramatically cut taxes and create massive federal deficits & debt, and then claim the only way to fix it is to cut and/or eliminate Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Unemployment Insurance, etc.

    In other words, the same phoney ‘it’s overspending not lack of revenue’ nonsense we’re hearing from them currently.

  91. csainvestor says:

    How much of this debt is due to the recession?
    No matter who inherited the White House in 2009, the debt was going to go parabolic.

  92. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    DrSandman:

    Bush was not a liberal, nor is Obama. They are both Corporatists, and Corporatism is the foundation of the Republican Party over the past 30 years (in fact, the entire political spectrum was shifted to the right because of the Republican propaganda machine demonizing the left and liberals).

    YOUR propaganda:

    “Join us Tea Partiers in denouncing wasteful spending!! Besides, we shower and have prettier females!”

    Really? Every one of you I’ve seen has been fat, and unless you have been hugging the OWS protesters, you have no basis for commenting on their personal hygiene.

    If I’m not mistaken, there was no Tea Party when Harriet Myers was nominated.

    Please explain the Koch’s and Dick Armey’s involvement in your “grassroots” movement.

    The EPA has been gutted. name some “overreaches.”

    “. . .since leftists generally permit religious bigotry . . .”

    What? Generally speaking, the left disdains religion in politics. Show me a conservative atheist.

    “I am curious? How, exactly, is BHO a republican-lite? What policies has he enacted that are “conservative”?”

    Uhhhh. . . I’m going to go out on a limb, here:

    Maintaining the M/I complex by doubling down on conservative warmongering, a stimulus program that helped big businesses, a healthcare “fix” that did the same, the extension of Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy.

    I believe many people have listened to what you are saying, and have come to the conclusion that it’s bullshit.

  93. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    Joe,

    Your point is taken, but I think that’s the underlying falsehood of this whole dilemma. As I pointed out in my comment, because of our unique position and status of our currency, all of this could be made to go away with the stroke of a pen (but doing so would completely destroy the status quo, and entrenched interests will do anything to maintain the status quo).

  94. Edoc says:

    BR: “Other estimates have put the Iraq war at 3 trillion.”

    I didn’t mention this (the politifact article did) because if there’s anything in this world a tea-party republican has no respect for, it’s a Nobel-winning economist like Stiglitz.

  95. cdyryky says:

    Hrrrm, you should actually do the math… Bush accounts for about 31.8% of the national debt while the Obama administration accounts for 29.9%. Look at those numbers and realize that Obama has been in office for less than 3 years while Bush held the presidency for 8. That is why people are outraged about the deficit/debt problem.
    (go to usdebtclock.org and use their “time machine” to do the math… this is blatantly wrong.)

  96. Irwin Fletcher says:

    This group is so partisan that it is challenging to get honest debate. So let’s try.

    With this type of recession, government revenue will suck and deficits will go up dramatically. Regardless of what you think of Obama, he had no chance with regards to deficits.
    The best way to reduce deficits is a growing economy. Government works best when people are working and paying taxes. The fact that half of Americans aren’t paying taxes is a tragedy, but not for the reasons most people think.

    Barry hit a nerve with me when he calls for a return to real capitalism. He’s right. Corporatism is not real capitalism. Those who cry out against corporatism (and they should) should be just as vocal against the bull shit we are seeing with the Solyndra deal. Government picking winners and losers. To those on the left who are bashing crony corporatism, you lose credibility when you are silent on this one. The same goes for the government bailing out GM and handing it over to the unions (cronyism).

    Those on the right who scream about Obama’s deficits are also just as guilty if you were silent when GWB was spending us into oblivion and mounting deficits while the economy was growing in the mid 2000′s.

    Clinton/Gingrich look good, but its because the economy was doing so well. Government revenues won’t grow significantly until more people are working and paying taxes. You can tax the rich at 100% and it still won’t make a dent unless you get small businesses going, and people working and contributing.

    Lastly, GWB was not a conservative, he was a “Neo-con”, believing in the farce of exporting democracy and nation building. We simply cannot do this. The neocons actually believe it is our job to fight everyone’s wars for them and then build democracies for them. It doesn’t work, and we can’t afford it. The Iraq war was a big mistake, as were the bailouts.

  97. spm63 says:

    B.R. Read (or perhaps reread) Tragedy of the Obama Administration. Very good. Doesn’t need much updating . . . thanks.

  98. Edoc says:

    “Government revenues won’t grow significantly until more people are working and paying taxes. You can tax the rich at 100% and it still won’t make a dent unless you get small businesses going, and people working and contributing.”

    Along those lines:

    CBO to Super Committee: Full Employment Would Reduce Deficit By A Third
    http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/10/cbo-full-employment-would-reduce-deficit-by-a-third.php

  99. csainvestor says:

    If the stimulus created or saved jobs, even temporarily- it cost less than the 800billion price tag.