Yesterday, I rebutted the strange New York Times chart making the rounds which makes it look as though the Bush administration and Republican Congresses have been responsible for all of the spending growth of the last generation. Today, John Hinderaker points out another chart from Heritage, which shows exactly where the debt expansion occurred, and who is responsible for it:
Of the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling we have now, $4.5 trillion got added by Democrat-controlled Congresses since taking control in 2007. That corresponds exactly with the expansion in spending by Democratic Congresses over the same period:
Again, this new chart doesn’t exactly let Republicans off the hook, either. In the six years preceding this $4.5 trillion expansion of debt limits, Republicans expanded it by $3.85 trillion themselves — over six years, not three. The increasing pressure of entitlement spending created much of the need for this, but Congress under both parties increased discretionary spending at the same time, too — and Democrats did more of that than Republicans, as this chart showed yesterday:
The chart also responds implicitly to some recent Democratic Party talking points. The Democrats like to point out that the ceiling was raised 18 times during the Reagan administration. That’s right, an average of about once every six months. In other words, those increases were small and highly temporary, as you can see from the chart. It is also noteworthy that the total increase in the debt ceiling during the Reagan years was almost exactly equal to the increase in the debt ceiling during the Clinton administration. Neither, however, is in the same universe with the spiraling debt the Democrats have racked up since they took control of Congress in 2007.
Both parties have a great deal of responsibility for bringing us to where we are today. However, the assertion that it’s more the fault of George Bush and Republicans rather than Barack Obama and Democrats is patently absurd. These charts show exactly where spending increased, by how much, and the actions taken by Congress under control of each party — and every one of them shows the rate of increase in discretionary and mandatory spending rising faster under Democrats than Republicans, and the debt-ceiling hikes going up significantly faster.
All of this misses the point, however. We elected this Congress to change the way the federal government operates. Trimming $71 or $74 billion a year in spending won’t turn the tide on debt aggregation; we need fundamental, structural reform of spending that reduces to zero the amount of money we have to borrow on an annual basis to pay our bills.