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Tue Oct 16, 2012, 04:24 AM

Help! Did Bush II add $10.6T to Total Public Debt?

Last edited Tue Oct 16, 2012, 02:26 PM - Edit history (1)

Am I right or wrong about my conclusion? (Sorry, heavy with numbers)

For those unfamiliar with the Total Public Debt fight, its latest number in 2012 is $16,157,542,962,383

Thatís fact, but nobody seems to know how to correctly assign where a large portion of this debt comes from. The numbers will surprise you (assuming I do the math correctly).

Letís briefly go back to the beginning of Bill Clintonís era 1993 - 2001. In 1993 Clinton signed into law, with the help of Al Goreís senate tie breaking vote, The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, a.k.a. The Deficit Reduction Act of 1993. This is no small achievement: every Republican in Congress voted against this bill. Sound familiar? It, together with a progressive tax structure resulted in what we all can freely look up as historical annual budget surpluses at the end of the last millennium.

Here are the numbers on Total Public Debt from the TreasuryDirect.gov Web site (rounding to the next day, if necessary). Iíll mark the end of each Presidentís years after each debt number.

Clinton inherits
January 20, 1993 4,188,092,107,183.60
January 20, 1994 4,500,676,535,249.79 1st
January 20, 1995 4,796,537,934,595.60 2nd
January 20, 1996 4,988,050,606,130.79 3rd
January 20, 1997 5,310,267,076,516.85 4th
January 20, 1998 5,495,525,658,807.45 5th
January 20, 1999 5,623,807,213,463.02 6th
January 20, 2000 5,706,174,969,873.86 7th

Bush II inherits
January 20, 2001 5,727,776,738,304.64 8th
January 20, 2002 5,924,540,106,802.70 1st
January 20, 2003 6,387,841,175,651.97 2nd
January 20, 2004 7,006,834,072,435.49 3rd
January 20, 2005 7,613,215,612,328.37 4th
January 20, 2006 8,175,743,292,992.87 5th
January 20, 2007 8,676,668,422,505.86 6th
January 20, 2008 9,191,074,962,157.16 7th

Obama inherits
January 20, 2009 10,626,877,048,913.08 8th

It appears quite normal to see that debt is increasing. Clinton saw an increase of $1.6T. Bush II saw an increase of $4.9T. Bad huh! Unfortunately, that's the picture we're told, but it's missing one key element that will inflame that last number. This is the part of the analysis thatís always left out. CBO baseline budget and economic outlook (pg 17) forecast from 07/01/2000 estimated a budget surplus (2001 - 2010) of $5.7T, in 01/31/2001 was revised out to 2011 to be $5.6T* and on 12/28/2000 Clinton announced that Total Public Debt could be paid off by end of the decade...assuming tax policy and economic conditions remained unchanged and positive. <wiki: Change in debt position since 2001>

Sounds hopeful, factual and without dispute. In fact, the biggest concern back then was what to do in FY 2010 with all the budget surpluses after the Total Public Debt reached $0.00. That's Total, not annual. An estimated $6.1T paid off, with interest on debt to become $0.00. Back then it was envisioned (with Al Gore's victory) a number of options were plausible: responsible tax cuts, prescription drug benefits for Medicare recipients, investments in key priorities like education and health care, and that notably, Social Security would be fully funded through 2050.

So if thatís the case wherein FY 2009 we should have seen Total Public Debt of $0.00, but instead we saw the 2009 number above. Thatís a $10.6T negative swing, instead of a simple increase by Bush II of $4.9T. Am I missing something? Has nobody looked into this before?

Imagine what your IRS tax rate would be since 2009 with Total Public Debt of $0.00! We wouldn't even be having arguments about tax rates and who pays more. Wrap your head around that! Or better still, ask your nearest Republican to imagine it, then ask them if the Bush tax cuts were worth it.

And sorry if some of my timing assumptions arenít completely accurate or there are typos. I believe fiscal years are October 1 - Sept 30. The Heritage Foundation disputes the CBO claims, but I havenít dissected their argument. Iím just going by what CBO wrote and I would tend to favor their wonk budget outlooks to biased opinions.

Interestingly, the CBO forecast from April 7, 1992, was near dead on in its outlook through FY 2001, showing Total Public Debt of $5.6T; further lending credibility to their ability to accurately forecast budgets.

Looking forward to DU input and analysis.

* http://www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2001/04/useconomics-auerbach/

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Reply Help! Did Bush II add $10.6T to Total Public Debt? (Original post)
ffr Oct 2012 OP
modrepub Oct 2012 #1
madrchsod Oct 2012 #2
politicman Oct 2012 #3
no_hypocrisy Oct 2012 #4
Samantha Oct 2012 #5
ffr Oct 2012 #6

Response to ffr (Original post)

Tue Oct 16, 2012, 04:48 AM

1. Nice

Hard to get this into a neat sound bite though; too many numbers over a relatively long period of time. Defense spending over the last 8 or so years has tripled and I think that's where much of the deficit over the last decade is coming from. I think I saw we have roughly 400,000 active troops at the moment and I think we are spending over $700B/year on them. That's an awful lot of money per troop and the Repubs want to increase the spending number and not institute a draft.

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Response to ffr (Original post)

Tue Oct 16, 2012, 04:59 AM

2. here`s another interesting site


within that site is this http://costofwar.com/ that pretty much sums up what has gone wrong since the early 2000`s

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Response to ffr (Original post)

Tue Oct 16, 2012, 06:25 AM

3. real truth


Those might be the raw numbers BUT one must put them into context.

Obama is said to have added 6 trillion to the debt BUT that is not true.

First there was the cost of 2 unfunded wars, tax cuts and prescritpion bills that were made under Bush AND Obama did the responsible thing and put them on the balance sheet.

Second, there were existing laws that needed to be funded that eat up alot of the debt under Obama.

Obama only increased the debt by 10-15% of that 6 trillion with new laws and programs.

Obama has grown the government by less than any other president in the modern history.

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Response to politicman (Reply #3)

Tue Oct 16, 2012, 06:58 AM

4. Welcome to DU politicman

and you're correct. The * Administration purposely omitted the costs of the two wars in its budget and the deficit.

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Response to ffr (Original post)

Tue Oct 16, 2012, 09:25 AM

5. When George W. Bush* left office he did leave a 10.6 Trillion Dollar Deficit

He kept the numbers off the General Ledger, Enron-style accounting.

A couple of months after he was sworn in, President Obama made a public statement about these numbers being kept off the general ledger. He said he was moving them to the general ledger so the American People could see exactly where we stood.

Not too long after that, the Republicans started truly harping on the deficit, implying it was all Obama's fault.

Most of the 10.6 Bush kept hidden was how much we were spending on the Iraq War, the war in Afghanistan and Medicare expansion program, often referenced as a gift to the pharmaceutical companies.

Not to worry, though, Dick Cheney said, as I am sure you will remember, "deficits don't count." Looks like they do not count if they were amassed by Republicans; but obviously they do count if the Dems accrue them.


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Response to ffr (Original post)

Tue Oct 16, 2012, 02:28 PM

6. There, I added a graphic. That should make my point crystal clear.

I'm a numbers guy, so this makes perfect sense to me.

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