Deficits during the Obama years

By Tom Quiner


A Quiner’s Diner reader jumped to Barack Obama’s defense.

She cited information dispensed by the always ‘unbiased MSNBC’ (irony intended) to prove that it is Republicans, not Democrats, who are the profligate spenders of taxpayer money.

For the record, Quiner’s Diner is very critical of the way Republican Congresses overspent, especially during the George W. Bush years. The suggestion, though, that Obama has been more frugal than Republican presidents doesn’t square with the data:

Here’s the assertion by a Quiner’s Diner reading citing MSNBC:

Relying on OMB data, the public debt grew under Reagan – who promised as a candidate to balance the federal budget – by 186%. He is, by any fair measure, the Father of the Modern Deficit – among modern presidents, Reagan fundamentally changed the way in which federal officials approached the nation’s finances. When it comes to deficits as a percentage of GDP, Reagan also ranks last among all modern presidents.

From there, H.W. Bush increased the debt by 55%, Clinton by 37% (he’s the only modern president to see surpluses), W. Bush by 86%, and Obama by 59% as of Dec 2014 when this was reported. MSNBC arrived at these numbers through simple arithmetic: what was the debt on their inauguration day, what was the debt when they left office, and by what percentage did the debt go up.

Let’s look at the Reagan record. Mr. Reagan submitted 8 budgets to Congress.  They spent more than he asked for 7 times.  Had they gone with his 8 budget requests, we would have had a budget surplus in 1989.

All spending bills originate in the House of Representatives. Democrats controlled the House during Reagan’s entire presidency. Then Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill, was a big government proponent who famously called Reagan’s budgets “dead on arrival.” It was Democrats who drove up the budget deficits in spite of Reagan’s best efforts to reign them in.

Regarding Mr. Obama, the inflation-adjusted graph above speaks for itself, in spite of MSNBC’s best efforts to skew the results.

1 Comment

  1. Doug on November 4, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    Really… Now someone at Quiner’s Diner must has read David Stockman ( Reagan’s OMB Dir) and his book…The Triumph of Politics. It’s a Laffer … and if you look at a deficit curve, what a POTUS inherits on day one, and if one is honest in acknowledging what the deficit…not the debt, but the deficit was then and what it is now…I’d appreciate you showing me another POTUS with Obama’s
    percentage of change.

    And you defend Reagan for the wrong reason. He wasn’t a deficit hawk…he put 2 trillion dollars on Uncle Sam’s credit card and dismantled the Soviet Union. Yeah…how worthy, wonderful and cheap at any price. Now that’s a big, Big deal, So why the pettifoggery and diminutive attempt to turn Ron Reagan into just another Chicago School Econ toady. He had a bigger vision, saw an opportunity and took it. And he played Tip and that Democratic congress like Frank Luntz plays the current GOP donor class. He made ’em chumps. Like Carson, Cruz, Trump, and the rest of that GOP crop of erstwhile conservatives are playing you guys.