Thursday, August 4, 2011

Democrats? Republicans? Who created the Federal debt?

I read this all the time on left-wing web sites: "George Bush and the Republicans created our Federal Debt. (Or Reagan started it.)" And if you visit conservative web sites, just the opposite. "Obama and the Democrats exploded the debt."

Well, it can't be both ways. Maybe both parties are responsible. So what's the truth, based on hard numbers?

First, some assumptions for those of you who are a little fuzzy on how our Federal government works. Presidents submit budgets to Congress (or at least they are supposed to). Congress then takes that plan, debates and revises it, votes on it and when approved, sends it to the President, who can then either sign it, or veto it. If it's vetoed, it goes back to Congress for another round, until it finally gets signed by the President. In some cases, the President's veto gets overruled by the Congress, in other cases a compromise is reached.

So technically, Congress is responsible for spending, as outlined in the Constitution. But the President also has a huge influence in the amount and type of spending that is approved.

To get to the bottom of this, I created a chart of Congresses and Presidents and which party controlled each chamber and what party the President was from, beginning in 1953 and ending in 2010. I totalled all deficits and put them in columns based on who controlled Congress and who controlled the White House. The deficit or surplus amounts I used were in current dollars, not adjusted for inflation.

Who controlled what?
Republican Presidents: 36 years
Democrat Presidents: 21 years
Republican Congresses: 10 years
Democrat Congresses: 37 years
Split Congresses: 10 years

Who spends what?
Democrat Congresses: $10,350 billion
Republican Congresses: $1,397 billion
Democrat Presidents: $4,353 billion
Republican Presidents: $7,394 billion

(Note: I didn't include split Congresses, because in all cases except one, the Democrats were in control of the House, which has the most power over the budget).

The only conclusion I can reach is that the Democratic Party, when in control of Congress, spends like drunken sailors with no restraint. But, as Reagan once said, that is unfair to drunken sailors because at least they're spending their own money. Yet, on the other hand, many of our Republican Presidents should be ashamed of themselves for approving all the Democrat-approved spending. (In a few cases they actually didn't, because the Congress overruled them).

Well, it takes two to tango, and the result is that we are now more than $14,000 billion in debt (when you add in the 2011 deficit of approximately $1,500 billion), and by the end of next year this will go to more than $16,000 billion. The two worst years where 2003 with $892 billion (all Republicans) and 2010 with $1,350 (all Democrats).

For those of you weak in math, $16,000 billion is $16 trillion, or $16,000,000,000,000. This works out to about $52,400 for each man, woman and child living in this country. And here I thought I was finally debt free.

So it isn't all one party's fault, though in the long run Democrats tend to spend more.

But regardless of who's at fault, We the People are sick and tired of this and want Washington to live within its means. The rest of you who want more of this crap, or think its all good and we should be spending even more, should see a therapist.

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