Some Quick Budget Numbers

During the last 3 Republican administrations (Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II), US national debt rose a collective 7.1 trillion dollars. During the last Democratic administration (Clinton) the US national debt rose 1.5 trillion dollars. That is to say, Republican administrations accumulated .44 trillion dollars in debt in a average year, compared with .187 trillion dollars a year during Clinton’s tenure. Here is the data from the White House Office of Management and Budget (page 129).

The point of this exercise is not to weigh the relative merits of Republican vs. Democratic presidents. There are far too many variables to be weighed to make that an easy conclusion. However, I do think that the right-wingers who find President Obama an easy scapegoat for ballooning government debt doth protest too much; most of the massive national debt was incurred during conservative Republican administrations. This does suggest an alternative explanation for the advocacy of some right-wingers: they want a Republican administration that loads up the pork for them and it seems unlikely that a Democratic president will give it to them, especially a Democratic president who is beholden to different special interests than the far right.

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