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# Anyone know if this is accurate?

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TANSTAAFL Posted: Wed, Sep 28 2011 5:29 PM

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Porco Rosso replied on Wed, Sep 28 2011 5:49 PM

AHAhahAhAhaA no. It really started with LBJ and the Great Society.

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Wheylous replied on Wed, Sep 28 2011 7:28 PM

Here's the deal: Bush's debt is being added for all 8 years. Obama's isn't. Furthermore, the numbers, according to Wikipedia, are different.

Also, notice that these are percents. If every president increased debt by \$1 trillion, each next one in percent would increase it less (as a percent). E.g: Current debt: 1 trillion. I add 1 trillion more. My % increase is 100%. Next comes Billy. He also adds 1 trillion. But now, his % is just 67%.

Consulting this table:

you see that Obama in 1 year added (1.6 tril) as much as Bush added (2.1 tril) in 4 years.

Furthermore, looking at

We see that in 19 months Obama added \$2.5 tril, which means that in 48 months (4 years) he would add \$6.3 tril (if we extrapolate), more than all 8 years of Bush combined (2.1+4.0 = 6.1). If Obama were to serve 8 years and operate under current deficits, he would add 12.6 tril, or 207% of what Bush added.

Which numbers are correct? I don't know. I'd like to think that mine are. But whaddoyaknow.

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John James replied on Wed, Sep 28 2011 9:42 PM

Let's have a look...

The federal government's fiscal year currently begins on October 1 and ends on September 30 of the next calendar year. The fiscal year corresponds to the calendar year in which it ends; thus, fiscal year 2009 would begin on October 1, 2008 and end September 30, 2009...meaning a president's first budget begins in October of the year he takes office (i.e. he presides over roughly 8 months of someone else's agreed budget).

We see that on 30 Sep 1980 (before Reagan was elected...) the national debt was \$907,701,000,000.  But fiscal year 1980 was signed by Jimmy Carter.   When Reagan's first budget took effect, the debt was 997,855,000,000.  By the time his final budget year was complete, the debt stood at 2,857,430,960,187.32....a difference of \$1,859,575,960,187.32....or a 186% increase.

From 29 Sep 1989 to 30 Sep 1993, the debt went up to \$4,411,488,883,139.38...or 54% increase.

By the end of Clinton's last budget it was at \$5,807,463,412,200.06...or 31.6% increase

By the end of Bush's last budget it was \$11,909,829,003,511.75....or 105% increase

The current national debt, as stated by Treasury, is \$14,684,293,000,000...meaning, so far, under Obama's agreed-on budgets, the debt has risen ~\$2,774,463,996,488.25...or 23.29% increase

So, while they don't use accurate dates, it looks like those numbers are accurate for the dates they use...but as you can see, if you use accurate dates, it changes a bit...most notably Bush 43, and Obama.

A few things to keep in mind here though...

1) First of all, as Wheylous notes, using percentages is highly misleading.  If you just used actual amounts, it would look like this:

2) Also mentioned was the obvious fact that Obama only has 2 fiscal years under his belt.  Everyone else there (except Bush 41) has eight...so just for fun, multiply Obama's bar by 4.

3) Notice how they actually admit the national debt rose during Clinton's term.  I thought he "ran a surplus"?  Doesn't anyone remember that?  People are still talking about it today.  Funny how the truth comes out.  See "Clinton 'Surplus' Confusion" and "The Surplus Hoax".

4) People always seem to forget their are 535 other people who have a little something to do with the budget too...in fact, they have even more to do with it than the guy whose face is plastered all over it.  The thing is, it's just so much easier to comprehend the notion of one guy being in charge and it's much easier to point a finger at one guy.  And people are idiots.  So they like to blame the president for everything.  But let's have a look at the Congress during those years:

And if you graph that it looks something like this:

This makes it look like the Republicans kept working it farther and farther down, and Democrats shot it up.  The problem is, those are fiscal budget deficits.  Each year is a blank slate as far as that is concerned.  There is nothing to "pay off" over time.  All that's looking at is "did you spend more than you brought in this year".  That could (and should) be "no" every year.  And the past year could be off the charts and it would have no effect on the ability to make it 0 the next year.

Another obvious problem is the fact that official budget deficits show surpluses during Clinton's second term...but as the national debt shows, the surpluses were legerdemain....but that goes for government accounting in general.  It's all nonsense...

For example, the official national debt is \$14.6 Trillion, right?  First of all, that doesn't include the debt of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac...which the government has guaranteed.  Meaning that's another \$6-7 Trillion on the federal books, right there.  Just adding that debt alone makes for another 50% increase...and puts us at well over \$20 Trillion.  (Which would also put us at 145.5% of GDP, for those who keep track of that measure.  And we haven't even gotten to contingent liabilities and unfunded liabilities yet.  Now you see why the government leaves so many things off the balance sheet?)

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Wheylous replied on Thu, Sep 29 2011 9:06 AM

I appreciate your analysis. Here are a few other thoughts I have:

This makes it look like the Republicans kept working it farther and farther down, and Democrats shot it up.

I think the chart should be extended back before 1995, because there is only a period of Rep and a period of Dem, while it is good to look at transitions between one and the other.

Also, the chart for the amount by which the debt was increased would be more useful if presented as debt added as a percent of GDP. Floating numbers are not too helpful.

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John James replied on Thu, Sep 29 2011 10:35 AM

Wheylous:
I think the chart should be extended back before 1995, because there is only a period of Rep and a period of Dem, while it is good to look at transitions between one and the other.

As I said, it makes literally no difference.  A current Congress is not and cannot be held hostage by a past one.  Past budget deficits have literally no bearing on current ones.  I thought I made it clear that chart was more or less uselss, and at best, misleading.

Also, the chart for the amount by which the debt was increased would be more useful if presented as debt added as a percent of GDP. Floating numbers are not too helpful.

Neither is government accounting.  I thought that was made clear.  And on that note, you didn't think GDP was an exception did you?

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Physiocrat replied on Thu, Sep 29 2011 11:28 AM

Thanks for extra number crunching John James. Could be I annoying and ask for the figures in real terms? I know the CPI is incredibly flawed but \$1 today doesn't buy what it could in the 80s.

The atoms tell the atoms so, for I never was or will but atoms forevermore be.

Yours sincerely,

Physiocrat

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John James replied on Thu, Sep 29 2011 11:45 AM

\$1.00 in 1980 =

\$2.75 in 2011

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Consumariat replied on Sat, Oct 1 2011 9:18 AM

Here are some other charts. I have no analysis f them btw, just thought they might be of interest.

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