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Increases in National Debt July 26, 2010

Posted by Ken in Politics.

I was going through some old papers (trying to avoid finishing a project) and I came across a graphic that a friend of mine Tim O’Reilly threw out on Twitter in September of 2009, I think to convince me that Democrats are the fiscally responsible party and the Republicans are not… And the graphic is stunning, and on the surface it is convincing – but there are a few things left off that make me think maybe this graphic doesn’t show what Tim hoped it did.

National Debt Increase Chart 1975-2008

Note: Increases, not absolute debt levels.

First off, the graphic only showed three years under Democratic Presidents when the national debt increased (1978, 1980, and 1999) – every other year the chart showed the national debt typically being reduced OR holding steady – Hurray! Tim has convinced me, Democrats save money year after year.

Second, the chart shows only five years Republican Presidents presided over shrinking debt (1976, 1986, 1992, 2005, and 2007), every other year had increases. Wow, this is getting hard to refute – but this just doesn’t seem right, I must be missing something.

Finally, it occurred to me – The Constitution says that all spending is to originate in the House of Representatives in Congress, not with the President. Huh, interesting. So, with that new piece of information, lets see who controlled the House of Representatives over the same period (1975-2008).

From 1975 through 1994, Democrats controlled the House, then Republicans controlled the House from 1995 through 2006, when the Democrats regained control of the House in 2007. Also, let’s not forget that from 2001 through present the United states has been involved in wars Overseas Contingency Operations, adding to the debt in record numbers and the Overseas Contingency Operation was approved by both Republicans and Democrats after 9/11. Now, let’s look at that chart again…

From 1975 through 1994 the national debt went from $84 Billion in 1975 to $281 Billion in 1994, after peaking at $432 Billion under George Bush in 1991. OK, then the Republicans ran the House and from 1995 through 2006, and the national debt went from $281 Billion in 1995 to $574 Billion , after dropping all the way to $18 Billion in the year 2000 under Bill Clinton. Finally, Democrats come back and win control of the House again in 2007, and our national debt goes from $501 Billion in 2007 to $1,017 Billion in 2008.

Wait, this isn’t seeming right – this chart isn’t showing total debt, it is showing increases in the national debt, so the above numbers are the annual increases in debt – the amount of money the government spent in excess of what it collected year after year. Huh.

OK, now my head is hurting, and I’m not sure what to think, except that at the end of 2008, under a Republican President we had a national debt level over $10 Trillion dollars, after starting with a total debt level of $493 Billion after the first 37 Presidents and almost 198 years.

Then in 2009, in November CBS reported the US had a total of over $13 Trillion in national debt, and in 2010 we hear from USA Today that the Federal Deficit is looking to be $17.6 Trillion at the end of 2010, or nearly double the $8.5 Trillion in debt when the Democrats took control of the House in 2007.



1. rosslongaz - July 26, 2010

Thanks, super majority!

What’s terrible about this is that, WHEN republicans take over the house in the upcoming elections, they will be facing a deficit so large that any improvement will be overlooked as it will still not make a huge dent in the overwhelming numbers.

Watchout, democrats, John Boehner’s coming.

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