# National Debt: Bush vs. Obama

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This YouTube clip analogously talks about the rate at which US Presidents increase the national debt in terms of miles per hour when driving a car.

Basically everyone was moving along slowly… then Bush speeds up to 64 miles per hour then Obama speeds up to 174 miles per hour.

How accurate is this? Is it a fair analogy?

Thanks,

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mgb_phys
Homework Helper
It might be a little unfair to blame the global economic crisis on the new president.

Rather like saying there was only a little blaze but when the fire-chief arrived the whole building was burning.

seycyrus
But Obama's past ridicule of Bush's spending certainly raises an eyebrow.

Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
This probably provides the best perspective on debt - the debt as a percentage of GDP
http://zfacts.com/metaPage/lib/National-Debt-GDP.gif
http://zfacts.com/p/318.html

Interestingly, it looks like the tax-and-spend democrats win hands down.

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Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
But Obama's past ridicule of Bush's spending certainly raises an eyebrow.
Obama was handed a failing economy and was forced to take drastic action in order to prevent either a complete meltdown, or a decade or more of stagflation - no growth - according to most economists and experts. Japan is often cited as an example of what can happen if the government responds too slowly or with too little stimulus, when responding to a crisis. Their economy went flat for more than a decade.

Up until the very end, much of Bush's spending, as in Iraq, was elective. He was handed a relatively thriving economy that nearly collapsed by the time he left.

IMO, one of the few things that Bush did right was to sign the bailout bill. Obama had no objections; in fact he worked to gain support for the bill. Consider the graph and compare that to the actual debt at any time, and the importance of sustained growth becomes clear. Growth is how we keep our debt from burying us. Note that the graph is essentially our national debt to income ratio, over time.

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russ_watters
Mentor
It might be a little unfair to blame the global economic crisis on the new president.
It isn't the crisis but the response to the crisis that is creating the scale of the deficit. It isn't like Obama held spending flat while income dropped. Income dropped and Obama massively increased spending.

russ_watters
Mentor
Obama was handed a failing economy and was forced to take drastic action in order to prevent either a complete meltdown, or a decade or more of stagflation - no growth - according to most economists and experts.[emphasis added]
I think that would be a very difficult claim to substantiate.
Up until the very end, much of Bush's spending, as in Iraq, was elective. He was handed a relatively thriving economy that nearly collapsed by the time he left.
No, Bush was handed an economy dropping into recession. He actually happened to be in office for the entire cycle: down for a year, up for 6, down for 1.

Basically everyone was moving along slowly… then Bush speeds up to 64 miles per hour then Obama speeds up to 174 miles per hour.
Hmmm, I wonder how fast Bush was really going since he didn't include the wars or natural disasters into his budget?

I bet Reagan was quite the speedster as well...he did single handedly triple the national debt, did he not?

I agree with Ivan that the debt to GDP ratio is a much more meaningful measure of the national debt than the nominal value of the debt in dollars, since nominal spending increases with the price level of goods and so inflation makes it look like the national debt has been increasing exponentially for decades.

I bet Reagan was quite the speedster as well...he did single handedly triple the national debt, did he not?
I have heard this claim, which refers to nominal dollars, but since Reagan also presided over a massive increase in the rate of inflation it looks like acoording to Ivan's plot above that reagan only doubled the debt in terms of real purchasing power.

Acoording to the plot, the Bush-Reagan years presided over by far the largest increase in the debt (in terms of real purchasing power) since world war 2. Clinton and Bush2 are mostly irrelevant; it's good to see that George W's innovative :) cut taxes and spend lead to a mostly nominal increase in the debt, since the inflation was so high. Inflation is a big part of the current crisis however.

All these warhawks (Reagan, Bush, Cheney) must look at world war 2 and drool about debt purchases totalling ~20% of the GDP for several consecutive years --- no wonder Ike told us to beware of these folks.

rkhoja
I think the base number of the national debt with some calculation for inflation would be the fairest way to figure how much each spent. Or in Obama’s case is going to spend.

If we do not hold Obama responsible for the recession then we cannot hold bush responsible for 911 and the invasion of Afghanistan, and the invasion of Iraq. Bush did not cause 911 (or at least no one has proven it) so he is not really responsible for the cleanup and rebuilding of newyork. Hurricane Katrina was not bushed fault, the cost of the rebuilding after that. It was not Obama’s fault for the rescission, or the mess with health care.

If we don’t consider them responsible for what happens, intended or not during their terms then who do we blame for the expenses or more so how do you remove the expenses from the total national debt.

The Buck Stops With The President.

Jasongreat
So who is it that spends? Congress or the president? The president might come up with the budget, but isnt it congress that passes or denies(and they arent even limited to just whats in the budget). Just looking at the last two yrs of bushs term, when democrats controlled congress, how fast did spending increase? Or when clinton was in office with a republican controlled congress, how fast did spending decrease. And the great economy clinton left bush was the dot-com boom-bust wasnt it? Stats are misleading unless you use all the facts not just the ones you want to use to prove your point.

This is the best graphic I've seen to date - Obama is losing tax revenue AND spending at 4 (?) times Bush - the Obama "speed" may be under-stated - it doesn't include health care.

byronm
I think it dumbs down debt too much that we ignore what we're trying to do as a nation and it equates things that aren't equal.

Bush told me the cost of inaction with Iraq was a mushroom cloud over New York. We gave him 8 years of the benefit of doubt and it was proven wrong. Obama told me the cost of inaction on the US economy was more expensive than the cost of action and we haven't even given him a year of the benefit of the doubt..

but guess what.. there are key indicators that Obama was right. There are indicators that his debt spending wasn't merely spending debt but investing in ourselves, investing in our ideologies and investing in our future. Sure.. not all investments pan out but i think Obama's investments have been all the wiser compared to BUsh's

so with that said, i think debt charts are deceptive unless you you break down those expenditures into the verticals or silohs of the spending and then you have something objective and rational to speak to.

but guess what.. there are key indicators that Obama was right. There are indicators that his debt spending wasn't merely spending debt but investing in ourselves, investing in our ideologies and investing in our future. Sure.. not all investments pan out but i think Obama's investments have been all the wiser compared to BUsh's

This is the best graphic I've seen to date - Obama is losing tax revenue AND spending at 4 (?) times Bush - the Obama "speed" may be under-stated - it doesn't include health care.
It would be nice if you could give context to what you state. This isn't the Glenn Beck audience that tolerates such trivialities.

byronm
1. DJIA is now higher than when he got elected
2. Government has started earning profits on TARP investments
3. JObs are being created
5. Airports are expanding services
6. Businesses are starting to see an upswing in consumer confidence
7. unemployment rates fell in several states

Housing market is still holding a lot of people back and i think it will be another year before banks are settled out of a good chunk of their non mortgage related junk debt.

However, if all you read was WSJ you wouldn't know any of this ;)

1. DJIA is now higher than when he got elected
2. Government has started earning profits on TARP investments
3. JObs are being created
5. Airports are expanding services
6. Businesses are starting to see an upswing in consumer confidence
7. unemployment rates fell in several states

Housing market is still holding a lot of people back and i think it will be another year before banks are settled out of a good chunk of their non mortgage related junk debt.

However, if all you read was WSJ you wouldn't know any of this ;)
I realize that you are new to PF. Do you have specific links to support your list?

byronm
I realize that you are new to PF. Do you have specific links to support your list?
2 minutes on news.google.com man.. i'm not publishing a research paper for you ;)

NYT on tarp itself:

http://dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/31/are-profits-on-tarp-funds-enough-feel-free-to-change/

Finance.yahoo.com is all you need to see DJIA history.

jobless rates finally declining in many areas

http://dayton.bizjournals.com/dayton/stories/2009/09/14/daily44.html
http://www.ncnn.com/content/view/4955/123/ [Broken]

Should i keep going?

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2 minutes on news.google.com man.. i'm not publishing a research paper for you ;)

NYT on tarp itself:

http://dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/31/are-profits-on-tarp-funds-enough-feel-free-to-change/

Finance.yahoo.com is all you need to see DJIA history.

jobless rates finally declining in many areas

http://dayton.bizjournals.com/dayton/stories/2009/09/14/daily44.html
http://www.ncnn.com/content/view/4955/123/ [Broken]

Should i keep going?
You need to learn the rules.

That aside, I'll comment on your analysis of TARP. When all of the TARP funds are returned - PLUS $4 billion then we'll have a$4 billion profit.

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byronm
You need to learn the rules.

That aside, I'll comment on your analysis of TARP. When all of the TARP funds are returned - PLUS $4 billion then we'll have a$4 billion profit.
I would really like to know why you think i need to learn the rules?

Do you have evidence that shows the stimulus is already a failure and that the TARP fund is a complete loss and there is no recovery happening what so ever? Do you have evidence that shows if we did nothing we would be better off now?

If you want to "play by the rules" then please, show me that evidence. I didn't know i was playing the bad guy arguing against the status quo here.

I would really like to know why you think i need to learn the rules?

Do you have evidence that shows the stimulus is already a failure and that the TARP fund is a complete loss and there is no recovery happening what so ever? Do you have evidence that shows if we did nothing we would be better off now?

If you want to "play by the rules" then please, show me that evidence. I didn't know i was playing the bad guy arguing against the status quo here.
Did I make those specific statements? If I had, then you'd be correct in asking me to support the claims.

I'm really not trying to label you as a "bad guy" - just challenging you to support your comments as the rules prescribe.

I don't normally engage in discussions of the PF rules. It might be better if you consult with a moderator.

byronm
Did I make those specific statements? If I had, then you'd be correct in asking me to support the claims.

I'm really not trying to label you as a "bad guy" - just challenging you to support your comments as the rules prescribe.

I don't normally engage in discussions of the PF rules. It might be better if you consult with a moderator.
Personally i feel you played the rule card to "assassinate my character" more than anything else.. and no, i don't feel offended, i just felt it was a typical move to avoid addressing the positive outcomes of Obama to sustain your negative views of them regardless of what i say. (and showed through evidence)

I was enjoying the debate.. bu now i realize were to hard headed people debating the debate and not the issue again ;)

Personally i feel you played the rule card to "assassinate my character" more than anything else.. and no, i don't feel offended, i just felt it was a typical move to avoid addressing the positive outcomes of Obama to sustain your negative views of them regardless of what i say. (and showed through evidence)

I was enjoying the debate.. bu now i realize were to hard headed people debating the debate and not the issue again ;)
I haven't assassinated your character. Again, please learn the rules. If you want a fair debate, you'll have a fair debate.

mheslep
Gold Member
1. DJIA is now higher than when he got elected
2. Government has started earning profits on TARP investments
3. JObs are being created