In pictures: Why debt discussions won’t die down anytime soon

posted at 12:30 pm on June 1, 2011 by Tina Korbe

Debt-ceiling and related budget negotiations will continue to make headlines in the coming weeks, no matter how deeply lawmakers and the public begin to feel debt fatigue.

Last night, the House voted down a clean debt ceiling increase by a heavily lopsided vote of 318 to 97. This morning, House Speaker John Boehner released a statement — signed by 150 economists — that reiterates Republican demands for massive spending cuts to offset any increase in the debt limit. Later today, House Republicans will meet with President Obama for what The Washington Post describes as a “listening session” about debt grievances.

Debt, debt, debt. Say it enough and it starts to sound far less threatening. The Treasury’s “extraordinary maneuvers” delay the day of reckoning and that day begins to seem like Harold Camping’s Rapture — an ever-disproved, ever-delayed prediction. But the debt is all too real, as these excellent charts from The Heritage Foundation demonstrate. Especially now, as Congress turns so much of its attention to these matters, they’re worth perusing:


For the full budget chart book, click here.


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THESE are the images that MUST be the backdrop of EVERY GOP INTERVIEW!

A picture is worth a thousand words, and transcends language or ideology barriers.

Roy Rogers on June 1, 2011 at 12:35 PM

Heres the real problem – the left believes that debt is what only rich people owe.!

Don L on June 1, 2011 at 12:36 PM

To a Marxist White House, that picture is beautiful…

d1carter on June 1, 2011 at 12:36 PM

2nd that Roy

I’m sure those talks went well today at the WH…..not

cmsinaz on June 1, 2011 at 12:38 PM

Well these charts sure did ruin my day! I hope beyond hope that we can get the dc bunch to do something about this NOW. bho wants the debt ceiling raised and them he will see to it that cuts are worked out later? When in history has that ever happened? bho lies, lies, and more lies.
L

letget on June 1, 2011 at 12:40 PM

Living above your means doesn’t work any better by just forming a giant federal government to do it for you. A debt is still a debt.

RBMN on June 1, 2011 at 12:40 PM

Kind of OT, but not really:
Number of federally-owned limousines increases by 73% in Obama’s first two years, from 238 to 412.
http://www.iwatchnews.org/2011/05/31/4765/limousine-liberals-number-government-owned-limos-has-soared-under-obama
We also know that the number of federal employees making six-figure incomes has also skyrocketed under Obama.
http://chrisbanescu.com/blog/2010/02/americans-suffer-while-government-workers-prosper/

itsnotaboutme on June 1, 2011 at 12:41 PM

The biggest problem is our enemy, the left within, they are not stupid – they know this – they want this!

Don L on June 1, 2011 at 12:41 PM

These don’t even convey the actual level of doom as they are just current year numbers. If you use GAAP methods (accrual based accounting) we already have total federal obligations at $76 trillion—more than five-times U.S. GDP—at the end of the 2010 fiscal year. This debt increases by more than the sum total of all the wages and income in the US (close to twice as much). We would need to find a way to tax at levels way over 100%.

There is NO WAY OUT except via default or hyperinflation. Pick you poison.

Rightyismighty on June 1, 2011 at 12:41 PM

Tina, question about that that last chart. Why is Defense spending as a percent of GDP not projected out like the other entitlement spending. It just stops at 2011-ish. I know Fauxbama wants to cut Defense, but how can it disappear off the graph?

Western_Civ on June 1, 2011 at 12:41 PM

These numbers show the harsh fact – if we don’t get a true conservative in the white house, and a senate supermajority, who will take a meataxe to the progressive welfare state – we’re boned.

And by boned, I mean the end of the American experiment in democracy.

Rebar on June 1, 2011 at 12:43 PM

How long can our country exist with so many working and voting citizens not paying any income tax, and in fact getting money from the IRS?

Why are democratics not whining about ‘writing big checks’ to people claiming Earned Income Credits?

Why are we still hiring federal employees? Why are federal employees still getting bonuses and pay increases when by any metric they are already overpaid?

slickwillie2001 on June 1, 2011 at 12:43 PM

Tina, the Heritage link doesn’t take you to the charts and explanations.

Dusty on June 1, 2011 at 12:43 PM

I don’t know if Americans can stand the cuts. The welfare mentality has gotten hold of most people.

Oil Can on June 1, 2011 at 12:44 PM

Heres the real problem – the left believes that debt is what only rich people owe.!

Don L on June 1, 2011 at 12:36 PM

No, the real problem is the left believes the only reason some people are poor is because the rich took all their money. They don’t understand the concept of creating wealth.

taznar on June 1, 2011 at 12:44 PM

Nice job Tina – as Ross Perot proved – people may not undestand debt/deficit, but they get pictures.

Can you influence them to add the US to the debt/GDP ratio, along with Japan, Greece, UK chart??? In fact, I would jsut use Greece, being as “it is the word” of a horrid economy – whereas the US ratio is almost double!!!

Odie1941 on June 1, 2011 at 12:44 PM

So, basically, if we keep Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and refuse to pay the legally obligated interest on our debt, and cut all other spending to zero, we could almost balance the budget.

Now, it is time for someone to rush in and say that they are ‘owed’ their SS and Medicare.

Vashta.Nerada on June 1, 2011 at 12:48 PM

We’re screwed

cartooner on June 1, 2011 at 12:49 PM

I don’t know why you wingnuts want the federal government to spend less. The do so well with all the money we give them already!

The Obama administration said Wednesday that the government will lose about $14 billion in taxpayer funds from the bailout of the U.S. auto industry.

Weight of Glory on June 1, 2011 at 12:50 PM

Tina, question about that that last chart. Why is Defense spending as a percent of GDP not projected out like the other entitlement spending. It just stops at 2011-ish. I know Fauxbama wants to cut Defense, but how can it disappear off the graph?

[Western_Civ on June 1, 2011 at 12:41 PM]

“Defense” is a subset of spending within “All Other Spending” and as such not ‘Mandatory’ ones which because of the way legislation defining each is written has well defined projected liabilities. At least that is what occurs to me as the reason for it disappearing.

Dusty on June 1, 2011 at 12:50 PM

Heritage

Tina, the Heritage link doesn’t take you to the charts and explanations.

Dusty on June 1, 2011 at 12:43 PM

Does for me Dusty, unless you caught it and Tina made the correction. Here is the link.

Odie1941 on June 1, 2011 at 12:51 PM

Why is Defense spending as a percent of GDP not projected out like the other entitlement spending. It just stops at 2011-ish. I know Fauxbama wants to cut Defense, but how can it disappear off the graph?

[Western_Civ on June 1, 2011 at 12:41 PM]

It is to showcase that cutting all defense spending will not balance the budget.

Vashta.Nerada on June 1, 2011 at 12:52 PM

Tina, question about that that last chart. Why is Defense spending as a percent of GDP not projected out like the other entitlement spending. It just stops at 2011-ish. I know Fauxbama wants to cut Defense, but how can it disappear off the graph?

Western_Civ on June 1, 2011 at 12:41 PM

Because the last graph was created to show that if you eliminated defense spending entirely, things wouldn’t be much better.

strictnein on June 1, 2011 at 12:52 PM

[Dusty on June 1, 2011 at 12:43 PM]

Never mind. I see your link at the bottom of the charts now.

Dusty on June 1, 2011 at 12:52 PM

Tina, these graphs are racist

faraway on June 1, 2011 at 12:53 PM

The news at Drudge today is mostly discouraging too.

How can we be about to enter a depression?

Can anyone fix this? Is it too late? All the cheerleading in the world won’t fix this. We have to have accountants in the whitehouse.

petunia on June 1, 2011 at 12:53 PM

[Odie1941 on June 1, 2011 at 12:51 PM]

Thanks, Odie. I was clicking on the top Heritage link as I didn’t notice the bottom one.

Dusty on June 1, 2011 at 12:54 PM

The fools at the grocery store actually took the green sheets of toilet paper I had in my wallet for some of the food they had left on their shelves…

… I wonder how long that is going to last?

Seven Percent Solution on June 1, 2011 at 12:54 PM

@Dusty, the last link takes you the Budget Chart … The first takes you to the Ask Heritage website.

@Western_Civ, I’m not sure, but you can read more about the graphs here.

Thanks for the comments, guys!

Tina Korbe on June 1, 2011 at 12:56 PM

Wait… federal revenue increased after the Bush tax cuts?

HOW DID THAT HAPPEN NOBEL PRIZE RECIPIENT PAUL KRUGMAN?

Red Cloud on June 1, 2011 at 12:59 PM

What we used to know as the USA will look very different in 5-10 years…essentially we willl be dismembered by our creditors…

PatriotRider on June 1, 2011 at 12:59 PM

That’s ok, I’m pretty good at foraging.

Akzed on June 1, 2011 at 1:01 PM

So, just raise everyone’s taxes, that should work. /

scalleywag on June 1, 2011 at 1:01 PM

Thanks for nothing Obama!

SPGuy on June 1, 2011 at 1:02 PM

THESE are the images that MUST be the backdrop of EVERY GOP INTERVIEW!

A picture is worth a thousand words, and transcends language or ideology barriers.

I agree, but it’s hypocritical to show a deficit chart and then say- cut everything but defense! This country has enough weaponry to bomb the rest of the world back into the Stone Age and we need to come to terms with our penchant for thinking that it’s our job to defend the globe. Let other NATO countries pay for their own defense.

If you don’t recall Eisenhower’s warnings about the military -industrial complex (which screwed him over on multiple occasions by exaggerating Soviet armaments to the public and was a major factor in heightening the Cold War), now’s a good time to view it on YouTube.

bayam on June 1, 2011 at 1:04 PM

O/T!!!
IRAN’S GOT THE BOMB!!!!

abobo on June 1, 2011 at 1:04 PM

Why is Defense spending as a percent of GDP not projected out like the other entitlement spending. It just stops at 2011-ish. I know Fauxbama wants to cut Defense, but how can it disappear off the graph?

It’s omitted to prove that even if we eliminated Defense entirely, we’d still be screwed, because of all of the other spending.

The Monster on June 1, 2011 at 1:04 PM

You have to admit Sarah Palin is pushing the “we’re broke” meme pretty hard. I’ve been concerned about our debt since 1992. Gave to the Concord Coalition. Voted Perot in 1992. And now, since he took office, Obama’s increased the national debt from $10.6 trillion to $14.4 trillion and climbing. And now, we’re truly screwed. :(

Paul-Cincy on June 1, 2011 at 1:05 PM

Remember these charts while they try to change the debate from “whether or not to raise the debt ceiling” to “by how much to raise the debt ceiling”.

DO NOT RAISE THE DEBT CEILING EVEN IF “MASSIVE CUTS” IN SPENDING ARE ATTACHED

equanimous on June 1, 2011 at 1:06 PM

Heres the real problem – the left believes that debt is what only rich people owe.!

Don L on June 1, 2011 at 12:36 PM

Very good point. The truth is, it hurts the poor the most.

Paul-Cincy on June 1, 2011 at 1:06 PM

I agree, but it’s hypocritical to show a deficit chart and then say- cut everything but defense! This country has enough weaponry to bomb the rest of the world back into the Stone Age
bayam on June 1, 2011 at 1:04 PM

Most of the defense budget isn’t for weapons, but for salaries and logistics. Besides, defense is one of the few items federal dollars are spent on which is constitutional.

Vashta.Nerada on June 1, 2011 at 1:08 PM

DO NOT RAISE THE DEBT CEILING EVEN IF “MASSIVE CUTS” IN SPENDING ARE ATTACHED

equanimous on June 1, 2011 at 1:06 PM

When a private company goes bankrupt, they don’t get a cushion. They don’t demand someone “show them where to cut”. They fire their workers, shut down their plant, and sell it to pay off the debtors. It’s time we LIVE WITHIN OUR MEANS.

Paul-Cincy on June 1, 2011 at 1:08 PM

[Tina Korbe on June 1, 2011 at 12:56 PM]

Thanks. My error.

I don’t know about Heritage’s debt as % of GDP chart, though. Seems wrong. The Debt in 2011 is about $14.7T and US GDP is about … $14.7T.

Here’s Wiki in the US public debt page,

“As of May 6, 2011, the Total Public Debt Outstanding of the United States of America was $14.32 trillion and was approximately 98% of calendar year 2010′s annual gross domestic product (GDP) of $14.66 trillion.”

The graph should show 98% to 100%, not somewhere about 65%.

The time when the graph was made might explain it, but they don’t date it. Maybe it incorporates Federal assets such that it brings the 5 down, but that’s not what they should be explaining to the public.

Dusty on June 1, 2011 at 1:09 PM

How many federal employees are paid more than governors? 77,000!

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/may/31/77000-feds-paid-more-than-governors/

itsnotaboutme on June 1, 2011 at 1:09 PM

Clear pictures of looming disaster. What the heck happened to my earlier comment?

Drudge has it up anyway. Another economist using the D word which may now be forbidden. He’s like the fourth or fifth now.

The U word should now be vanquised from future Reauters and AP headlines…

dogsoldier on June 1, 2011 at 1:12 PM

btw Tina, I LOVE the graphs and numbers and facts. :)

Paul-Cincy on June 1, 2011 at 1:14 PM

The fools at the grocery store actually took the green sheets of toilet paper I had in my wallet for some of the food they had left on their shelves…

… I wonder how long that is going to last?

[Seven Percent Solution on June 1, 2011 at 12:54 PM]

ROTFL … and, alternately, crying.

Dusty on June 1, 2011 at 1:14 PM

These numbers are just plain wrong. I hate to say that and I’m surprise the heritage foundation has done this. The idea that they can predict the Social Security spending in 2050 is silly and national debt as a percentage of GDP at 344% in 2050 is also not a real number. They should have simply stopped the charts at 2020 or even 2030. Social security won’t continue to rise at the rate suggested. Over the next 30 years, the baby boomers will consume medicare and Social security, and start to die in larger numbers. As they die costs go down. Also revenue is held constant. Best guess sure, but Death tax should increase as wealthy baby boomers die. Unless the GOP gets rid of that too, which would be tragic. This group of people has spent more then they made and put off the payments until the death tax, you can’t decide to remove that tax once they get close to that time.
My point – Even one chart flaw makes the entire set of charts, ‘flawed’. Its the argument that its fine for Democratics to lie, because the GOP lies, or everyone lies. The numbers thru 2010 are frightening enough and projections to 2020/2030 are more realistic. This is really just creating the fake hockey stick for debt that Gore created the climate.
Really the current numbers are tragic and the jump caused by the Obama administration should be highlighted not dwarfed and made insignificant by faulty future projections.

indyrowe on June 1, 2011 at 1:22 PM

These charts are a divine sight for liberals and other enemies of the United States-a graphic game plan for American destruction which no foreign army could ever accomplish.

MaiDee on June 1, 2011 at 1:24 PM

“listening session” and then 18-holes of golf should make a Perfect Day for The Won.

RADIOONE on June 1, 2011 at 1:27 PM

How can we be about to enter a depression?

petunia on June 1, 2011 at 12:53 PM

Its very easy, Berny and Timmy have inflated the currency to the point where all that needs to happen is that China pays OPEC in whatever the Chinese currency is. Simple as that, as soon as the rest of the world starts paying for oil in rupees, we are toast.

Then Timmy will start printing $1Trillion Dollar bills with which you can buy a loaf of bread.

I suggest you all read some history books to figure out what happened to other cultures in the same mess. Its there for any and all to see. Maybe ours will be like France 1793. Or PolPot. Or Stalin.

orbitalair on June 1, 2011 at 1:33 PM

“The idea that they can predict the Social Security spending in 2050 is silly and national debt as a percentage of GDP at 344% in 2050 is also not a real number. They should have simply stopped the charts at 2020 or even 2030.”

You do realize you just accused yourself of making graphs that are silly, don’t you?

Dusty on June 1, 2011 at 1:34 PM

that reiterates Republican demands for massive spending cuts to offset any increase in the debt limit

NO!

davidk on June 1, 2011 at 1:36 PM

orbitalair on June 1, 2011 at 1:33 PM

Germany after WWI is kinda the classic illustration of this, isn’t it?

dogsoldier on June 1, 2011 at 2:05 PM

Why are we still hiring federal employees? Why are federal employees still getting bonuses and pay increases when by any metric they are already overpaid?

slickwillie2001 on June 1, 2011 at 12:43 PM

FWIW There is a two year Federal wage freeze in effect.
I’m not complaining but facts are facts.

KW64 on June 1, 2011 at 2:42 PM

Read the DOOM and weep:

Rightyismighty on June 1, 2011 at 2:46 PM

And now for the actual DOOM:

Hyperinflation report from Shadow Government Stats

Rightyismighty on June 1, 2011 at 2:48 PM

These charts need to be forced into the average American’s view. Too many people truly and honestly believe that the only reason we have a budget problem is because the rich will not pay their fair share of taxes. Just telling people there is a problem hasn’t worked. The true extent of our debt and spending must be shown to the public so they can see with their own eyes what we’re talking about.

Browncoatone on June 1, 2011 at 3:18 PM

Dusty, Vashta, Strictnein, and Tina, thanks for the explanations. Looking at the Heritage page, it does appear to show that the assertion of cutting defense to eliminate deficits is a complete lie.

Western_Civ on June 1, 2011 at 3:26 PM

Browncoatone on June 1, 2011 at 3:18 PM

It’s been shown that taxing everyone earning over 200k at 100% would not put a dent in the debt. Very basic arithmetic that no socialist can touch.

Why the Republicans are not shouting this is a baffling mystery, unless one concludes they are a bunch of dopes.

dogsoldier on June 1, 2011 at 3:36 PM

The first thing that struck me was how the spending spike started in 2006 under Bush. Now why would spending spike like that six years into the Bush administration? What changed?

The Democrats took over Congress!

All too often we act like the prime driver of government spending is the President. But it’s Congress. The current spending spree wasn’t helped by Obama, but the entire Democratic party really owns it.

There Goes The Neighborhood on June 1, 2011 at 3:42 PM

Why are we still hiring federal employees? Why are federal employees still getting bonuses and pay increases when by any metric they are already overpaid?

slickwillie2001 on June 1, 2011 at 12:43 PM

FWIW There is a two year Federal wage freeze in effect.
I’m not complaining but facts are facts.

KW64 on June 1, 2011 at 2:42 PM

Not quite, little Bammie only froze annual COLA at zero. They still get raises for nothing more than putting in another year at a job, and of course grade increases and promotions go on all the time, and bonuses are still being paid.

slickwillie2001 on June 1, 2011 at 3:44 PM

slickwillie2001 on June 1, 2011 at 3:44 PM

Thanks for the clarification.

KW64 on June 1, 2011 at 4:22 PM

150 Economists agree? That sounds like a consensus. Maybe we should declare the science settled and invite Al Gore to do a speaking tour.

Pablo Snooze on June 1, 2011 at 6:23 PM

150 Economists agree? That sounds like a consensus. Maybe we should declare the science settled and invite Al Gore to do a speaking tour.

Pablo Snooze on June 1, 2011 at 6:23 PM

…nice attempt at a parallel, but you couldn’t get 150 of those greenie scientists interested in anything like this…once the numbers started adding up, they’d know that they grant checks would bounce, and they’d be out the door like a Dracula confronted by the Pope….

…reviewing the miserable numbers, I’m glad that I’ve been keeping that penny jar for the last few decades…tot ‘em all up, and maybe I’ll survive a few weeks after the crash….

…all I can say is “DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMN!”….

Puritan1648 on June 1, 2011 at 7:44 PM

The first thing that struck me was how the spending spike started in 2006 under Bush. Now why would spending spike like that six years into the Bush administration? What changed?

The Democrats took over Congress!

There Goes The Neighborhood on June 1, 2011 at 3:42 PM

…when the Republicans get the national checkbook, they’ve a little of the “sailor on shore leave” in ‘em, but generally our armed services have a few new tanks or unairworthy aircraft to play with…when the Dems get it, turtles get highway underpasses, Brazilians get oil exploration money, and the teachers and public service unions get Roman orgies, I’ve heard….

…and, when a Republican enters Congress, in the back of the member’s head is a tiny, tinny sound: the theme from “Rocky”. When a Dem enters Congress, they hear a sound, too…”CHA-CHING!”….

Puritan1648 on June 1, 2011 at 7:51 PM

SHUT IT DOWN!

GarandFan on June 1, 2011 at 8:53 PM

I’ve been saying that a balanced budget spending cap is meaningless. What is needed is a percentage of GDP cap that is ironed into the Constitution to be exceeded only in time of House of Representatives declared war.

{^_^}

herself on June 2, 2011 at 4:19 AM