Let's start today with a Pop Quiz: Which of these presidents nearly tripled our national debt? Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, or Obama? I ask because the big story last week for conservative America was that President Obama has, in three years, equaled the amount of national debt that President George W. Bush accumulated in eight years. This tidbit was picked-up by the right-wing bloggers who spewed the usual Fox talking points: Obama is in a spending frenzy and we must elect a Republican to save us all from the inevitable financial apocalypse. The Obama debt story didn't come from Fox, but from Mark Knoller, a reporter with CBS, a reputable network. That story just didn't sound right to me, so I went to the U.S. Treasury Department website and checked it out for myself. They have a site, www.treasurydirect.gov , where you can examine our nation's balance sheet day by day for the last twenty years. Fun stuff.
The actual figures were: George W. Bush, $6 trillion in debt and, as of March 20, 2012, Obama, $3.7 trillion. I'm not saying that $3.7 trillion isn't something to be concerned about; I'm simply saying that the Knoller story is wrong. A common mistake that people make when figuring our national debt is they think that just because a person, let's say, Obama, was elected in 2008, that they should start their debt count in 2008. Obama was elected president in November, 2008, but didn't take office until January, 2009. But even 2009 would be too soon to begin the debt blame game. The federal government's 2009 fiscal year began on October 1st, 2008 and so the budget for 2009 was actually presented to Congress by George W. Bush. Blame Obama for 2010, 2011, and 2012.
So, which president nearly tripled our national debt? The answer to today's quiz is: Republican Ronald Reagan, who raised it from the $1 trillion that had accumulated over 200 years, to $2.9 trillion. Reagan averaged a whopping 24% increase in our national debt every year he was in office. Next, Republican George H.W. Bush raised it from $2.9 to $4.4 trillion, a hefty increase of 13% per year; then, Democrat Clinton, from $4.4 to $5.8 trillion, a fiscally conservative 4% per year; and Republican George W. Bush from $5.8 to $11.9 trillion, again, just like daddy, averaging a frightening 13% annual growth. Democrat Obama is responsible from $11.9 to the current $15.6 trillion, which translates to a 12.4% annual increase. Actually, 12.4% is remarkable, considering the gutted American economy he inherited from Bush, with plummeting tax receipts from an America out of work, combined with exploding payouts to people in need. Remember?
Republicans also like to talk about Obama's "out-of-control" federal spending; so let's talk. Republican President Ronald Reagan increased federal spending by 69%, or, by an average of 8.6% a year. Republican Bush Sr. increased federal spending 5.8% annually; Democrat Clinton 4%; Republican Bush Jr., 11%; and Democrat Obama the lowest of all, averaging 2.7% per year.
Democrats, from this day forward, you own the national debt and federal spending talking points. Are you worried about government spending and our national debt? Hey, me too! We've got to vote those irresponsible, free-spending Republicans out of office. Tell that to your uncle, who watches Fox, blindly praises "fiscally-conservative" Republicans, and complains about Democrats spending our children into slavery. Give him a copy of this article and ask him to point-out any wrong numbers. Keep a copy on your refrigerator to scare right-wing visitors away from your beer. Talk it up at work. Enjoy!