Everybody take a look at the chart at James Fallows’s blog. Then email the post to everyone you know who is stupid enough to believe that Republicans are better at balancing budgets than Democrats.
The chart shows how much the federal debt grew, or shrank, as a share of gross domestic product during each of the last several presidential administrations. In other words, it shows when the economy was growing faster than federal debt and also when federal debt was growing faster than the economy. It also shows the average annual rate of growth or reduction during that administration.
To encapsulate, the federal debt shrank as a share pf GDP during the administrations of presidents Truman, Eisehnhower, Kennedy/Johnson, Nixon/Ford, Carter, and Clinton. It grew during the administrations of presidents Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II.
Ezra Klein argues that this phenomenon isn’t so much a result of policy but of recession. “Basically, deficits happen when recessions happen. Anytime GDP shrinks, deficits explode,” he says. And he has data to back that up. Still, part of the Myth of Saint Ronald of Blessed Memory was that the Reagan economy grew robustly, but all the data say otherwise (which is how I personally remember it). And is it really a coincidence that the economy slows during the administrations of right-wing “Reaganomic” Republican presidents?
In other news — Charlie Rangel is busted.