Free Markets, Free People

4 Trillion in debt added under Obama’s term

Deficit spending has risen faster under Barack Obama than any other president in history.  That’s not to say other presidents weren’t in the red during their administrations, but in the case of Obama, its over 4 trillion dollars in less than a single term

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.

The immediate problem isn’t about taxes or revenues, “it’s the spending, stupid!”  Byron York echoes the point:

It’s conventional wisdom in Washington to blame the federal government’s dire financial outlook on runaway entitlement spending. Unless we rein in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the conventional wisdom goes, the federal government is headed for disaster.

That’s true in the long run. But what is causing massive deficits now? . . . 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.

Precisely.  When treating a badly wounded person the immediate need is to stop the bleeding, not treat them for heart disease.  Once the bleeding is stopped, then you can worry about their heart and future treatments.

The spending has to stop.   And President Obama is not the man to do that.  He blames his spending on everyone but himself which indicates to many that he has no intention of slowing it down:

Mr. Obama blames policies inherited from his predecessor’s administration for the soaring debt. He singles out:

  • "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."

While there is some truth to what he points too, the last is nonsense unless you believe the government has first claim to your earnings.  Those aren’t tax cuts, they’re tax rates.  They’ve been in place for almost 10 years for the first and eight for the second.  Tax rates are changed all the time, but until recently they’ve never been referred too as “tax cuts … that were not paid for”.  Also not mentioned in Mr. Obama’s litany is TARP – something he voted for – and the trillion dollar stimulus bill, not to mention the new health care law which analysis now shows bends the cost curve up.

Just as this economy is all his, so is the 4 trillion in borrowed money he’s spent during his term to little or no effect during his term.  And the budget he submitted to Congress this year, the budget that was rejected 97-0, indicated he still doesn’t understand the spending has to stop.

Our debt now stands at 97.6% of our GDP.  That’s default territory.  Yet there are those who have attacked Standard and Poors for downgrading their rating to reflect that reality.   This is serious business that effects or will effect everyone if it isn’t stopped.   GOP candidates need to concentrate on the immediate problem and announce and run on their plan to stop the bleeding.


Twitter: @McQandO

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30 Responses to 4 Trillion in debt added under Obama’s term

  • “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.”

    What a liar….!!!  Each of those was passed AND maintained by a BIPARTISAN majority in Congress!
    In the case of the prescription drug benefit, Bush was blunting a Deemocrat drive for a MUCH bigger, more expensive one.  And I read recently that it was the rare Federal program that was coming in under budget projections.  And I’ll be damned if I’ve heard him offer to cancel it.
    We’re STILL fighting both wars, and have added a third…completely illegal…war in Libya.
    And President Limp Duck EXTENDED the Bush ACROSS-THE-BOARD (not “for the rich”) tax rates for their stimulative effect.  (Which lying Collectivists say don’t exist.)
    He must think people are really stupid.  But, then, he WAS elected…

  • “”a prescription drug program for seniors…we didn’t pay for.””

    If I recall the dems were saying that this program didnt go far enough and didnt spend enough.

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, a Republican, welcomed the promise of full reimbursement. “This is great news,” he said. “The federal government is living up to its responsibility.”
    But the steps were not enough to satisfy some Democrats, who said the federal government should reimburse all state costs, without requiring states to dun insurers.
    Gov. John Lynch of New Hampshire, a Democrat, expressed concern about the Feb. 15 deadline. “New Hampshire citizens are still having problems getting their medications through Medicare,” Mr. Lynch said. “The federal government should not set a deadline until it can prove that everyone who is eligible can actually get their prescriptions.”

  • “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.”
    >>>>>  Worth noting that Pres. Passthebuck didn’t end any of those things that he now says were so bad.

    I swear, like Bush or not, at least he was a man who made his choices. It’s effing pathetic when you have a Pres. yelling “It’s not my fault!” like a 5 yr old who broke a vase playing ball in the house. I would love to see his head explode when the next guy blames HIM. 

    Such a child.

  • Any time someone says anything to the effect of “The government didn’t PAY for tax cuts”, they should be slapped on the face and yelled at with a forceful “NO!”

  • Dr. Obama’s treatment is to give the patient twice as many wounds as he had when he came in, and then point fingers at everybody else.

  • Of course, you can only reach this number by adding Bush’s last budget deficit as an “Obama” one.  Inaugurations take place in the middle of the fiscal year, when the budget choices are already in place and most of the spending has been made or committed to.
    Of course, this leaves aside the whole Bush downturn from 2007, which guarantees deficits.
    The sin isn’t running a deficit when the economy plunges south.  An 8.9% annualized decline (Q4 2008) will blow a hole in any budget, and given the lag in economic stats, will be long completed before you can even know what’s happened.
    The sin was running deficits during times of economic growth by cutting taxes when they couldn’t be afforded, paying for wars without raising revenues to do it, and an across the board spending spree.  The cost to revenue for those tax cuts continues into the Obama term, the costs of those wars continues into the Obama term, and the budget baseline for all that GOP spending continues into the Obama term.  Was the alternative tax repeal to Jan. 1, 2009?  An immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq starting January 2009?  A return to the Clinton spending baseline?  Pretending that this inheritance is just Obama’s fault isn’t a serious analysis of the situation.

    • Not to imply you’re full of crap, but…
      From 10 months ago…

      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)

    • Another thing that puts the crap to your post is that during Bush’s second term, deficit spending was DECLINING until the bust.
      But, hey, don’t let reality intrude…

    • ‘paying for wars without raising revenues to do it’
      Good Jimo I was hoiping you’d mention the wars, let’s discuss the billion we’ve spent since our ‘days not weeks’ attack on Libya, shall we?   The illegal war/not war done without Congressional approval (well, we have NATO approval, and UN approval, what more do we need…)
      Is that Bush’s fault too?

    • “Of course, you can only reach this number by adding Bush’s last budget deficit as an “Obama” one.  Inaugurations take place in the middle of the fiscal year, when the budget choices are already in place and most of the spending has been made or committed to.”

      That would be the fiscal 2009 budget? Which should have run from Oct 2008- Sept 2009.
      Normally I would agree with you. In this case, however, the Democrats, whom were in control of both houses of congress, did not submit a fiscal 2009 budget for Bush to sign. They held it over until Obama was in office, and Obama signed it. Thus it is totally Obama’s (and the Democrats).

  • I’ve seen this graph, , many times and it led me to believe that the deficits under Bush were far, far less than under Obama. However, that graph seems at odds with the $4.9T / 8 yrs for Bush figure that McQ cites from a CBS link.

    Eyeballing the Heritage bar graph, it looks to me that the Bush contribution to the national debt (assuming the increase to the debt equals the sum of the deficits) was only about $2T.

    What am I missing? Is interest on existing debt compounding?

  • If the notion that we are merely living through the aftereffects of a mere “recession” that ended in 2009 sounds somewhat ridiculous, that’s because it is. If we were being honest with ourselves, we would call this a depression. That would certainly better convey both the severity of our problems, and the fact that those problems have no evident solutions.
    –The New Republic

    Even they understand…
    Obama made it worse.

    • Well you have to hand it to him, he idolized FDR and sure enough he did exactly the same as FDR, took a sharp recession and turned it into a long depression.

  • I understand that now Obama will also blame the northeast quake for his lousy economy as well

    • Sure shark, that’s why the housing starts are down to a record low, people are afraid to buy houses last month because of the earth quake today.
      Oh, well, not yet, but NEXT month., that will be one of the reasons.

  • Continued discussion of debt/deficits…

    Rags: I found this CBO link [ ] that should provide the real skinny:













    So the Heritage graph follows the CBO numbers.  According to the CBO for the years 2001-2008 the debt increased from $3.4T to $5.8T for an increase of $2.4T or $300B per year, which seems modest by current standards. Looking at the numbers one can see that the Bush administration did struggle successfully to bring the budget down after the dotcom collapse/9-11/Afghan and Iraq wars blew the budget up.

    To be fair, as you say, the big TARP payment should be split between Bush and Obama, making the Bush contribution larger.

    The CBS link is working with numbers from the Treasury Dept. I’m not sure why they are higher.

  • Well, that chart looked good in the web page editor but lousy after submission. (I don’t like the editor here much at all.) Let’s try again:

    Year Deficit Debt
    2000 236.2 3409.8
    2001 128.2 3319.6
    2002 -157.8 3540.4
    2003 -377.6 3913.4
    2004 -412.7 4295.5
    2005 -318.3 4592.2
    2006 -248.2 4829
    2007 -160.7 5035.1
    2008 -458.6 5803.1
    2009 -1412.7 7544.7
    2010 -1294.1 9017.8


    • Sure Hux, blame the editor   🙂
      I know I know, you inherited the editor, right?

      • Absolutely! I sometimes run the NoScript add-on for Firefox and it knocks QandO back to plain ol’ HTML the way God intended the web to work.

  • Turns out the Treasury Dept. has an Office of Public Debt. The OPD publishes the numbers on the debt based on how much debt we have issued in treasury bills, some of which are held by the government. Anyway you can consult its web page and discover how much we owe to the penny. This is where the $4.9T was obtained for the Bush administration:

    01/19/2001:   5,727,776,738,304.64
    01/16/2009: 10,628,881,485,510.23

    Since we issue treasuries ahead of the budgets, this is why the Treasury numbers are greater than the CBO’s, though I’m not sure why they are that much greater than the CBO.

    • Treasury accounts for everything. CBO does not. This is, for example, how the claimed Clinton era ‘surplus’ comes about (it is based on CBO data).