Skip to main content

Since Republicans like to talk about their commitment to reducing the debt, a look at history should help.  The chart linked here displays each year whether the government had a surplus or a deficit and by how much as a percentage of GDP.  Let's look at the presidencies of the past 30 years and see what happened.

Reagan: 1981-1989 - Deficits spiked in 1982-83 and continued to be well above the rates before Reagan.  There is a sharp reduction by 1987 and 1988, but still roughly in line with the level of deficit of the 1970's.

George Bush: 1989-1993 - Debt levels increased again under George H. W. Bush.  Not to Reagan levels, but an increase nonetheless.

Bill Clinton 1993-2001 - The trend under Clinton is unmistakable.  Deficits steadily reduced throughout the 90's and reached a surplus in the late 90's and early 2000's

George W. Bush: 2001-2009
- Another unmistakable trend.  Surpluses were abandoned and the deficit steadily increased.

Barack Obama: 2009-present - Republicans like to blame Obama for the level of debt under his watch, but there is absolutely no way anybody could expect a low level of debt after the financial crisis.  Deficit to GDP is is also larger because GDP decreased in 2009 and the recovery has been weak.   The level of the deficit has been decreasing every year of Obama's presidency.

So over the past 30 years we have had Republicans increase deficits, a Democrat who had the first surplus since the 1960's, and a Democrat who inherited a terrible economy but has reduced deficits every year of his term. How are Republicans getting away with portraying themselves as fiscal hawks?

Image linked to above is from this Council on Foreign Relations article.

Adam Weiss blogs at


Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site