Obama set to beat Bush debt-aggregation record …

posted at 1:25 pm on August 23, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

In 31 months of Barack Obama’s presidency, according to the Treasury and CBS News, the US has added $4 trillion to its national debt.  That approaches the presidential record set by George W. Bush of $4.9 trillion, but there’s a catch to that.  Bush set that record in two terms — in 96 months:

The latest posting by the Treasury Department shows the national debt has now increased $4 trillion on President Obama’s watch.

The debt was $10.626 trillion on the day Mr. Obama took office. The latest calculation from Treasury shows the debt has now hit $14.639 trillion.

It’s the most rapid increase in the debt under any U.S. president.

The national debt increased $4.9 trillion during the eight-year presidency of George W. Bush. The debt now is rising at a pace to surpass that amount during Mr. Obama’s four-year term.

Let’s cast this by month rather than by year.  Bush added an average of $51 billion a month to the national debt.  In his 31 months in office, Obama has added to the national debt at an average monthly rate of $129 billion.  That is 152% more per month than Obama’s predecessor.

Mark Knoller lists Obama’s excuses for the debt buildup on his watch, which not surprisingly all get blamed on Bush:

  • “two wars we didn’t pay for”
  • “a prescription drug program for seniors…we didn’t pay for.”
  • “tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 that were not paid for.”

Well, there are big problems with these excuses, chief among them that none of this explains the sharp difference between the rate of debt under Bush and under Obama.  After all, the wars all started early in Bush’s tenure.  So too did the tax cuts and the Medicare Part D program.  Yet not only did deficit spending remain under control throughout almost all of the Bush years, deficit spending actually declined in Bush’s second term until the economic collapse occurred.

So what changed?  We’re spending more on entitlements, for one thing, but not that much more.  Byron York argues that while conservatives are rightly focused on entitlements to solve the long-term structural deficit, the rapid short-term increase in deficit spending is the result of a Democratic spending spree:

There’s no doubt federal spending has exploded in recent years. In fiscal 2007, the last year before things went haywire, the government took in $2.568 trillion in revenues and spent $2.728 trillion, for a deficit of $160 billion. In 2011, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates, the government will take in $2.230 trillion and spend $3.629 trillion, for a deficit of $1.399 trillion.

That’s an increase of $901 billion in spending and a decrease of $338 billion in revenue in a very short time. Put them together, and that’s how you go from a $160 billion deficit to a $1.399 trillion deficit.

But how, precisely, did that happen? Was there a steep rise in entitlement spending? Did everyone suddenly turn 65 and begin collecting Social Security and using Medicare? No: The deficits are largely the result not of entitlements but of an explosion in spending related to the economic downturn and the rise of Democrats to power in Washington. While entitlements must be controlled in the long run, Washington’s current spending problem lies elsewhere. …

Spending for Social Security and Medicare did go up in this period — $162 billion and $119 billion, respectively — but by incremental and predictable amounts that weren’t big problems in previous years. “We’re getting older one year at a time, and health care costs grow at 7 or 8 percent a year,” says Holtz-Eakin. If Social Security and Medicare were the sole source of the current deficit, it would be a lot smaller than it is.

The bottom line is that with baby boomers aging, entitlements will one day be a major budget problem. But today’s deficit crisis is not one of entitlements. It was created by out-of-control spending on everything other than entitlements. The recent debt-ceiling agreement is supposed to put the brakes on that kind of spending, but leaders have so far been maddeningly vague on how they’ll do it.

Finally, let’s recall that Congress passes budgets, not the President.  The proper measure of deficits and debt should be allocated on the basis of Congressional control as well as control of the White House.  Ten months ago, when Obama blasted through the $3 trillion debt mark, I calculated the true allocation of debt along those lines:

First, let’s break down the last 10 years of the Bush/Obama era by control of Congress, starting on January 1, 2001.  The starting point for the national debt was $5.662 trillion.  On January 6, 2007, when Democrats took over, Republicans in total control had added $3.011 trillion in debt in six years, just slightly less than Obama has added since taking office less than two years ago.  Since taking control of Congress less than four years ago, Democrats have added $4.992 trillionto the national debt.

Perhaps it would be more fair to look at the entirety of Republican control of the House, which lasted 12 years and bridged the Clinton and Bush administrations.  In that entire span, Republican budgets added $3.873 trillion to the national debt.  That is not only far below what Democrats have added in just one-third of the time, it’s also far below the Obama administration’s own projections of how much they will add to the national debt in just one term.

We can also do the same calculations by fiscal year, from October 1 to September 30 each year, matching the budgets. Using that guide, we find the following scenarios:

  • Republicans in control for 12 years: Added $4.034 trillion (avg $336.17 billion per year)
  • Republicans in control during Bush era: Added $3.201 trillion (avg $533.5 billion per year)
  • Democrats in control of Congress during Bush/Obama era:  Added $4.603 trillion (avg 1.48 trillion per year)

Now, with an extra $1 trillion in ten months, we can change that last line to $5.6 trillion for Democrats in less than 4 years.  It’s an astonishing explosion of federal spending, much of it in the increased regulation that’s strangling job growth.  It’s no coincidence, after all, that this massive expansion in federal size and power accompanies an extended economic slump and a refusal of investors to put their capital to work.

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COUNT IT.

Chuck Schick on August 23, 2011 at 1:27 PM

Count it!
-crr6

Vanceone on August 23, 2011 at 1:28 PM

I had to Hope and Change-my-drawers after reading that.

We’re in deep shiite.

Bishop on August 23, 2011 at 1:28 PM

Yeah, but the downgrade was because of those crazy people who want to spend less money.

forest on August 23, 2011 at 1:29 PM

Disgusting for Obama!

Nothing to be proud of for GWB.

Obama is destructive to the U.S. and the world.

Schadenfreude on August 23, 2011 at 1:30 PM

Count it! One trillion! 2 trillion! 3 trillion! 4 trillion! Ah HA HA!

- crr6 (The Count)

Zero has such a lovely Cloward-Piven spending policy, doesn’t he?

Battlecruiser-operational on August 23, 2011 at 1:32 PM

I’m shocked…….

That it hadn’t occurred months ago.

Vashta.Nerada on August 23, 2011 at 1:33 PM

“I can guarantee a 152% better return on your investment then my competitors!”-Barack Hussein Obama

NotCoach on August 23, 2011 at 1:33 PM

Unprecedented & historic!

BHO Jonestown on August 23, 2011 at 1:34 PM

That approaches the presidential record set by George W. Bush of $4.9 trillion, but there’s a catch to that. Bush set that record in two terms — in 96 months:

Yeah, but the deficit would’ve been much worse had we not spent so much. Thank you, Pres. Obama.

Weight of Glory on August 23, 2011 at 1:35 PM

COUNT IT.

Chuck Schick on August 23, 2011 at 1:27 PM

I can’t count that high.

forest on August 23, 2011 at 1:35 PM

That post is straight up racism!
-Janeane Garofalo

FireFly on August 23, 2011 at 1:38 PM

Stay on message….Its those Tea Partiers who are holding a gun to the head of American fiscal sanity, pushing the country to “default.”

elowe on August 23, 2011 at 1:38 PM

Schadenfreude on August 23, 2011 at 1:30 PM

Yup! But Obama doesn’t care. I remember seeing him saying to a crowd…you ain’t seen nothing yet, and he had this ominous look on his face. As his numbers get weaker, I expect his will to destroy this country will come at a more rapid pace.

capejasmine on August 23, 2011 at 1:39 PM

Bush was bad….Obama sucks.

search4truth on August 23, 2011 at 1:39 PM

50 requotes of crr6 pro-Obama musings or bust. We can do it, people.

Chuck Schick on August 23, 2011 at 1:40 PM

Will they actually report this on the evening news, heard nary a peep from the cable channels

cmsinaz on August 23, 2011 at 1:42 PM

Wait till Obamacare really kicks in in 2014.

elowe on August 23, 2011 at 1:43 PM

Does this include the trillion.two that was snuck to the banks after the above-board theft.. I mean bailout they were handed?
-

RalphyBoy on August 23, 2011 at 1:44 PM

Can someone read this piece aloud to Warren Buffet? Draw some pictures for him, too.

elowe on August 23, 2011 at 1:45 PM

This posting should be required reading across the nation.

ButterflyDragon on August 23, 2011 at 1:48 PM

Nothing to be proud of for GWB.

Schadenfreude on August 23, 2011 at 1:30 PM

To be fair, how much of that was post Jan ’07?

Bush’s deficit for FY ’07 was about 150 billion. What was it after the ‘rats been gettin’ at it?

Lanceman on August 23, 2011 at 1:48 PM

But…what about “Pay-Go?”

I guess we see why a democrat House nor democrat Senate ever passed a budget for 4+ years.

How is that Continuing Resolution non-sense working out now?

elowe on August 23, 2011 at 1:48 PM

50 requotes of crr6 pro-Obama musings or bust. We can do it, people.

Does “Commerce Clause!!11venty!” count? (I just want to do my part…)

Battlecruiser-operational on August 23, 2011 at 1:49 PM

Are you better off now than you were two years ago?

Absolutely.

crr6 on May 30, 2011 at 5:35 PM

Del Dolemonte on August 23, 2011 at 1:50 PM

O’bama’s job approval has also dropped another point-to 38%.

Del Dolemonte on August 23, 2011 at 1:50 PM

Wait till Obamacare really kicks in in 2014.
elowe on August 23, 2011 at 1:43 PM

Don’t have to wait that long, the Bush tax cuts will expire soon. Then, game over.

Bishop on August 23, 2011 at 1:50 PM

Will bernanke help this with the expected qe3 he will do?
L

letget on August 23, 2011 at 1:51 PM

COUNT IT.

Chuck Schick on August 23, 2011 at 1:27 PM

Count to eleventy gazillion.

Red Cloud on August 23, 2011 at 1:51 PM

Poor President Obama. He HAD to spend that much money (and more) to dig us out of the hole that Boooooosh made.

/lunatic commie talking point

VibrioCocci on August 23, 2011 at 1:52 PM

Pinning the Medicare D thing on President Bush always makes me laugh (and cry inside). Name one Democrat who didn’t want an even bigger program.

WitchDoctor on August 23, 2011 at 1:55 PM

C’mon, who has the crr6 “thank you president obama” post?

lorien1973 on August 23, 2011 at 1:55 PM

An earthquake just hit the DC area.

Patriot Vet on August 23, 2011 at 1:55 PM

OT: Earthquake felt in Washington D.C. Mineral, VA is the epicenter of a 5.8 magnitude earthquake according to Fox News.

d1carter on August 23, 2011 at 1:57 PM

An earthquake just hit the DC area.

Patriot Vet on August 23, 2011 at 1:55 PM

Wasn’t strong enough. I’m still feeling the one that hit the rest of the U.S.

Lanceman on August 23, 2011 at 1:57 PM

C’mon, who has the crr6 “thank you president obama” post?

Heh. A classic.

Battlecruiser-operational on August 23, 2011 at 1:58 PM

Right on schedule.

Force America into bankruptcy and NUDGE them into the arms of the New World Governance.

Progressives Dream come true (in both parties).

Thanks D.C. Overlords.

PappyD61 on August 23, 2011 at 1:58 PM

Ed, forgive me if I missed it but nowhere in your post did I see mentioned reduced federal revenues from this prolonged economic downturn and continuing high unemployment.

GreenBlade on August 23, 2011 at 1:58 PM

It must have been closer to Richmond – we felt it in NoVA but they could barely keep their feet in Richmond.

disa on August 23, 2011 at 1:59 PM

Pinning the Medicare D thing on President Bush always makes me laugh (and cry inside). Name one Democrat who didn’t want an even bigger program.

WitchDoctor on August 23, 2011 at 1:55 PM

Oh, thank you for pointing that out. W. instituted more liberal wet dreams than I could stomach. I remember that fata$$ed besotted pig Ted Kennedy calling it ‘a good, solid downpayment.’

Don’t think for one second it would not have been worse under Algoar.

Lanceman on August 23, 2011 at 2:00 PM

C’mon, who has the crr6 “thank you president obama” post?

lorien1973 on August 23, 2011 at 1:55 PM

That would be Del Dolemonte.

Lanceman on August 23, 2011 at 2:01 PM

As written earlier, Cloward/Piven……Right on schedule….

adamsmith on August 23, 2011 at 2:01 PM

It must have been closer to Richmond – we felt it in NoVA but they could barely keep their feet in Richmond.

disa on August 23, 2011 at 1:59 PM

DAMN!! I’m in Richmond, and the entire office building was shaking. My window looks out over a lake and the water was bubbling. Lasted about 20 sec or so.

BacaDog on August 23, 2011 at 2:02 PM

Good question lance

cmsinaz on August 23, 2011 at 2:03 PM

OT: Earthquake felt in Washington D.C. Mineral, VA is the epicenter of a 5.8 magnitude earthquake according to Fox News.

d1carter on August 23, 2011 at 1:57 PM

God is coming for you, Barry.

VibrioCocci on August 23, 2011 at 2:04 PM

US Capitol building is being evacuated along with other government buildings…

d1carter on August 23, 2011 at 2:04 PM

man that was a weird quake.

blatantblue on August 23, 2011 at 2:05 PM

BacaDog on August 23, 2011 at 2:02 PM

Wow, this the second today. One in CO this morning also. Stay safe people!
L

letget on August 23, 2011 at 2:05 PM

and a hurricane is barreling towards us too

blatantblue on August 23, 2011 at 2:06 PM

And he told us the water would recede and the earth would begin to heal itself…

d1carter on August 23, 2011 at 2:09 PM

blatantblue on August 23, 2011 at 2:06 PM

Here is a good site for you to keep up with the storm if you would like to look at it. stormpulse.com.
L

letget on August 23, 2011 at 2:11 PM

My favorite all-time reason: Tax cuts that weren’t paid for!!! LOL!!!!! Or, spending in the tax code, however he wants to put it. They never, ever mention that the Fed collected RECORD tax revenue in 2006 & 2007 b/c of those tax cuts. They were more than “paid for” champ. BO = Economic genius. NOT!

JAM on August 23, 2011 at 2:13 PM

To be fair, how much of that was post Jan ’07?

Bush’s deficit for FY ’07 was about 150 billion. What was it after the ‘rats been gettin’ at it?

Lanceman on August 23, 2011 at 1:48 PM

..Roger that. can I get an amen?

The War Planner on August 23, 2011 at 2:20 PM

“tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 that were not paid for.”

as crazy as that phrase makes me and as ridiculous as it sounds, it is correct in the sense that to pay for it, spending must be cut, which was the missing ingredient.

maineconservative on August 23, 2011 at 2:23 PM

How do you break this info down to a 30 second ad everyone can understand?

Elbar on August 23, 2011 at 2:29 PM

Now, with an extra $1 trillion in ten months, we can change that last line to $5.6 trillion for Democrats in less than 4 years.

Wait, what? I’m pretty sure that Republicans control the House. How does that count as Democratic control of Congress (especially for budgetary purposes)?

tneloms on August 23, 2011 at 2:45 PM

Ed, forgive me if I missed it but nowhere in your post did I see mentioned reduced federal revenues from this prolonged economic downturn and continuing high unemployment.

GreenBlade on August 23, 2011 at 1:58 PM

It’s in Byron York’s article (not linked to for some reason):

Add to that the $338 billion in decreased revenues, and you get $681 billion — which means nearly half of the current deficit can be clearly attributed to the downturn.

That’s a deficit increase that would have happened in an economic crisis whether Republicans or Democrats controlled Washington. But it was the specific spending excesses of President Obama and the Democrats that shot the deficit into the stratosphere.

tneloms on August 23, 2011 at 2:55 PM

And 400 billion of that 4.9 billion was for the 2008 budget which the dems didn’t even pass until Bush was out of office and Obama safely ensconced therein.

eaglewingz08 on August 23, 2011 at 2:58 PM

He’s already well surpassed the number of rounds of golf that Bush had his entire time in office. So this is just gravy.

Scrappy on August 23, 2011 at 3:24 PM

The national debt increased $4.9 trillion during the eight-year presidency of George W. Bush. The debt now is rising at a pace to surpass that amount during Mr. Obama’s four-year term.

I’m waiting for the Obamabots to cheer. I’m sure they’ll call it “historic” and “unprecedented”. “O-ba-ma! O-ba-ma! We’re number 1!”

GarandFan on August 23, 2011 at 3:30 PM

That approaches the presidential record set by George W. Bush of $4.9 trillion, but there’s a catch to that. Bush set that record in two terms — in 96 months:

Yeah, but the deficit would’ve been much worse had we not spent so much. Thank you, Pres. Obama.

Weight of Glory on August 23, 2011 at 1:35 PM

Most economists peg the structural deficit in 2008 at around $800 billion. By the time the debt-fueled economic and housing bubble of the 200′s came to a close, incoming tax revenue hit a bottom. This wasn’t the consequence of a war or a single tax cut, but a prior decade that saw federal spending increase by nearly 50% while real tax rates fell.

As a result, the baseline deficit figure for Obama was $800 bil coming into office. If you want to assume that austerity measures are the right fiscal policy during a recession- to take a page out of the 1930s- then yes, perhaps Obama could have cut the deficit. But many economists, including GOP appointed Greenspan and Bernanke, strongly believe that such a policy would have driven the economy off a cliff and into a depression. In that scenario, the tax revenues plummet even further, leading to even larger deficits.

What’s the answer? There aren’t any clear or easy paths back to economic prosperity. As Charlie Munger has said, this country may be screwed.

bayam on August 23, 2011 at 3:45 PM

This doesn’t make me wish we had Bush back in office. I long for much, much better.

Extrafishy on August 23, 2011 at 4:30 PM

As a result, the baseline deficit figure for Obama was $800 bil coming into office.

bayam on August 23, 2011 at 3:45 PM

Which he nearly doubled in year one and maintained since.

Chuck Schick on August 23, 2011 at 4:44 PM

Does this include the trillion.two that was snuck to the banks after the above-board theft.. I mean bailout they were handed?
-

RalphyBoy on August 23, 2011 at 1:44 PM

They didn’t tell anyone about it, and the banks who got it didn’t report it.

Imagine if a Republican had done this. Imagine.

runawayyyy on August 23, 2011 at 4:45 PM

Most economists

bayam on August 23, 2011 at 3:45 PM

LOL.

Del Dolemonte on August 23, 2011 at 4:48 PM

d1carter on August 23, 2011 at 2:09 PM

It’s trying but it take a few more bigger ones to wipe out D.C.

chemman on August 23, 2011 at 5:08 PM

Just look at how both men cross their legs in the picture…

Big John on August 23, 2011 at 5:31 PM

LOL.

Del Dolemonte on August 23, 2011 at 4:48 PM

When Bayam starts a sentence with “Most _______ are…” you know he’s pulling all the following data out of his cornhole.

Chuck Schick on August 23, 2011 at 5:55 PM