The nation's fiscal house is in utter shambles. For decades, the U.S. has accumulated deficits which have collectively added trillions to the total debt. Currently, the nation is $14.4 trillion in the hole -- and the figure is growing.
With both sides of the political aisle debating ways to pare down the country's mounting debt, it's likely that the monumental $4 trillion that has already been incurred under President Barack Obama will raise some eyebrows. HotAir.com's Ed Morrissey has more:
In 31 months of Barack Obama’s presidency, according to the Treasury and CBS News, the US has added $4 trillion to its national debt. That approaches the presidential record set by George W. Bush of $4.9 trillion, but there’s a catch to that. Bush set that record in two terms — in 96 months.
So, with only one-third of the time Bush spent running the nation, Obama has presided over nearly the same sum in debt acquisition. Considering the nation's fiscal trajectory, this revelation will likely be a factor in both the 2012 campaign and the bi-partisan debt negotiations that precede it.
Morrissey points out that Bush added a monumental $51 billion per month to the nation's debt during his presidency. But, Obama, with only 31 months in the White House, has presided over an average monthly rate of $129 billion (or 152 percent more than Bush's debt acquisition).
Obama and the Democrats have blamed much of the debt on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Bush tax cuts, a prescription program for Senior Citizens and a variety of other issues (mostly associated with the president's predecessor). CBS News has more:
[Obama blames] the recession, and its resulting decrease in tax revenue on businesses, for making fewer sales, and more employees being laid off. He says the recession also resulted in more government spending due to increased unemployment insurance payments, subsidies to farms and funding of infrastructure programs that were part of his stimulus program.
But, as Morrissey points out, the wars started early in Bush's presidency as did the tax cuts that Democrats typically lament. If these were the root cause of the nation's debt problems, conservatives then wonder: Why is debt expanding much more rapidly under Obama's watch (i.e. wouldn't Bush have had a high rate of debt expansion as well)?
Watch Obama discuss these issues during his bus tour earlier this month:
It ignores key facts about the nature of government debt. For instance the nominal size of the debt isn't important except as compared to the concurrent size of the economy -- the debt-to-GDP ratio. Additionally, if growth of debt over time is what you're interested in, then the key question is percent-growth, not nominal growth.
Buetler also mentions the fact that Bush inherited budget surpluses, while Obama did not. Still, he admits that the situation is grim.
Regardless of how one views the partisan handling of the nation's fiscal drama, the need for reform and balanced books is inherent. It's also important to remember that presidents make budget proposals, but that Congress does the real spending.
Presidents oversee the process, broker deals and attempt to guide the nation and her leaders along a path toward fiscal sustainability (that's the intention, at least).