National debt has provoked debate and criticism over the past 30 years but nothing like the tirades and temper tantrums we’ve seen since the beginning of the Obama administration. Launched as a focused attack strategy under the Tea Party movement, the massive US debt and how to deal with it has become one of most ideological, partisan issues in the post-Great Recession political climate pitting supply-siders against Keynesians. Beyond the debate over which will do more for an economy in recovery versus which works more effectively in a healthy economy, the entirety of the argument from one particular side of the aisle simply reeks of hypocrisy.
While it is true under the Obama administration the US has reached the highest levels of national debt in our history but what is not true is his role in its accumulation. Looking back a few years we can examine the share of the debt accrued under past presidents. Prior to Ronald Reagan the combined share of debt under previous administrations amounted to 7%. Between 1981 and through his two terms in office ending in 1989 Reagan’s share of the debt accounted for 13.2%. George Bush Sr. held a 10.5% share while Clinton can be held responsible for 9.8% of the total. George W Bush; primarily due to his two large tax cuts, two unpaid for wars and a prescription drug reform; accrued a whopping 42.7% of the total debt we have now.
President Obama’s share is 16.8% of the total debt the US currently has but there is a major caveat to this, the Great Recession. As a result of the worst economic crisis in 80 years the country lost more than 8 million jobs which represented a massive reduction in revenue. A loss of revenue which resulted in increased debt spending required to pay the country’s previous obligations such as two very large tax breaks, two foreign wars and a prescription drug reform. In addition the government, in an attempt to keep the country from falling into the abyss of a second depression, injected billions more into the economy to prop up large financial institutions, to stimulate the economy and save a faltering auto industry. This spending represented the bulk of the Obama Administration 16.8% share of the current US national debt.
So with some facts tucked into your back pocket, a smidgen of critical thought on your mind and armed with a healthy dose of the big picture go seek out an answer to the question, “How wise it to tempt the current crop of Republicans with the reigns of power?”
Or is it best to wait until they’ve had time to grow up a bit more or at least wait ’til a few of them reach age of consent first.