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Spending and debt

So, I was looking for a chart showing the national debt over time and came across this one, from zfacts:


Debt as a percent of GDP is the best measure of the actual burden of the debt; the economy (i.e., GDP) is where any funds to service or pay back the debt have to come from. And this shows what everyone not in the conservative parallel universe knows: The burden of the debt shot up for WWII, then came down sharply, and was still on its way down when Reagan took office (ironically, running in part against the debt). At that point it zoomed up until Clinton took office, when it leveled off and came down a bit (not that Clinton actually paid any of the debt off, but he did stop its growth, so as GDP increased the ratio decreased). Then George W. Bush took office and the debt zoomed again.

A lot of charts show this, but this chart had some info that I’d never known before. I’m not talking about that green line—that’s partisan hackery. There’s no reason that Reagan and the Bushes should have balanced their budgets, as much as they may deserve to be impaled (exhumed and impaled in Reagan’s case) for taking out so incredibly much debt in our names.

I’m talking about the line all the way to the left–the one that shows where Roosevelt took office (1933). I’d never realized how high the debt-to-GDP ratio was at that point. It’s higher than where it was under Ford and Carter.

In other words, in 1980, after the huge expense of World War 2 plus thirty-odd more years of liberal, free-spending government (with conservative complaints about the debt as constant background noise), the burden of debt was lower than it was when Herbert Hoover left office.

This is yet more evidence against the idea that the way to deal with debt is by cutting spending. I only wish that evidence mattered in today’s economic debates. . . .

1 comment to Spending and debt

  • Brandon Perron

    Hmmm yourself and several others seem to ignore the information that doesn’t suit your agenda. You do realize that after the ww2 debt, there were 3 Democratic and 2 Republican presidents? With the same downward trend in debt/GDP… you do know it was a combination of a Democrat and a Republican president that caused the rise during Reagan term? I will admit Clinton helped… but at the expense of future wellbeing of Americans… he took a gamble with the future and lost. Now, Bush 2 and Obama… those 2 need a good nock in the head with some lead… a D and an R both causing hyper debt increase… neither doing SHIT for Americans… but sending our men and women overseas to liberate some assholes that want to kill us… WONDERFUL idea…

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