A dishonest debate about the debt

The Wall Street Journal published an editorial today dreading what it called the "Obama Downgrade", referring to risk that the United States might lose the AAA credit rating on its debt. As always, it's the hypocrisy and blatant partisan angling that bothers me about such articles. A fair article would share blame for out of control spending between all of the last 4 presidents; each has contributed to the growth of entitlement spending which now threatens to overwhelm the budget. More particularly, policies of the Bush administration and the Republican Party (which controlled all of government for a large part of both Bush terms) exacerbated the debt and deficit problems of the nation in dramatic ways. This is nicely demonstrated by the chart the WSJ provides for its editorial, although you won't see it framed in quite this way.

The 10-year cost of the GOP-passed Medicare Part D act? $1 trillion. The 10 year cost of the "Obamacare" act? $1 trillion. The cost since 2003 of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? Over $1 trillion. The 2008 Bush stimulus package (in the form of tax rebates) cost $160 billion. The 2009 Obama $787 billion stimulus (ARRA) bill included nearly $300 billion in tax breaks, on top of the 10 year $3.5 trillion cost of the extended Bush tax cuts.

To put it in better perspective, look at this table (found here):

Date Dollar Amount
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

During the Clinton years (not shown above) the national debt increased from $4 trillion to the $5.67 trillion baseline in 2000, a 40% increase. Between 2000 and 2008, a time of average economic growth with the exception of the tech bust and brief recession of 2001, the debt increased 78%. From 2008-2011(in the midst of an economic crisis that caused a steep drop in tax revenues) we've seen a 40% increase, which brings us to $14,342,954,633,916.41. Of all of this deficit spending, the Republican Party has objected to $1.7 trillion of it and spearheaded the other $7 trillion itself.


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