Tuesday, August 24, 2010

So, who’s responsible for the current debt level?

And more importantly, who’s responsible for the current trajectory of the federal debt?

Yesterday, Joe Biden blamed GOP for “quadrupling” National Debt.

Quadrupling?  SRSLY, Joe?

Mark Knoller, White House correspondent for CBS Radio, did a quick check of the numbers to show that the increase was actually 86% on the GOP’s watch from 2001 through the 2009 inauguration of Barack Obama.  That’s nowhere near “quadrupling,” which would represent a 400% increase, but  this calculation doesn’t tell the whole truth, either.

When George W. Bush took office in January 2001, the total US National Debt was $5.727 trillion.  Between that date and January 2007 when Democrats took control of the Congress, the total US National Debt went to $8.675 trillion.  This represents a 51% increase, or about an 8.6% increase on an average annual basis.  That’s a big jump, but wait…

From January 2007 until January 2009, Under the Democrat-controlled Congress, the National Debt increased to $10.627 trillion.  This represents a 22.5% increase, or about 11.25% on an average annual basis.  That’s an even bigger jump.  It took Congressional Democrats two years to do half more again the damage what the GOP did in six years.

From January 2009 through August 2010, under a Democrat-controlled Congress and a Democrat White House, the National Debt increased to $13.320 trillion, or about a 16.0% average annual basis. Whoa… The rate of growth in the National Debt has increased nearly two-fold since the Democrats obtained full legislative and executive power. In about 20 months, too.

In truth, since the Democrats took control of Congress in January 2007, they have steadily increased the rate of growth in the National Debt.  For the two year period between 2007 and Obama’s inauguration in January 2009, the annual rate of increase in the debt level grew by a whopping 265 basis points.  Between January 2009 and the current date, the annual rate of increase in the debt level has grown by an even more eye-popping 475 basis points.

There is no sugar-coating the Republicans’ responsibility for the increase between 2001 and 2007.  They spent in ways that would make Tip O’Neill blush.  But to suggest that the Republicans are responsible for the 54% increase since 2007 and the 16% average annual rate of growth since 2009 is just wrong. 

Here’s a chart, showing the plot using these rates of growth and projecting them into 2012.  The parabolic launch didn’t start until Democrats had all the levers of power.


Anyone who claims that the Republicans are responsible for the recent run-up in the National Debt, from $8.675 trillion in 2007 to the current level of $13.2o trillion is either very bad at math, or very good at partisan political spinning.

NB:  This is not a knock on Mark Knoller, who has done a very professional job of covering the White House for CBS Radio.  This is a knock on partisan Democrats (and their sycophants in the old school media) who want to spin numbers such that they don’t have to bear responsibility for nearly doubling the National Debt since seizing power in the 2006 mid-term election.

All figures are from Debt to the Penny, via TreasuryDirect.gov


Michael said...

The majority of the spending increase from 2007-2010 was targeted at trying to prevent an economic meltdown. Whether this was the right policy to take is debatable. Regardless...
-The first bank bailouts had bi-partisan support, including support from George Bush
-The recession was largely caused by a toothless regulatory environment under Bush.

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