For me, it seems that the criticism that most holds water from conservatives about Obama is that he is spending way too much while worrying about the deficit too little. However, here too I think many are misled. Take a look at this chart showing the debt as a percentage of GDP. Note especially the presidents since Jimmy Carter. Under Carter, there was a surplus.
|U.S. president||Party||Term years||Start debt/GDP||End debt/GDP||Increase debt ($T)||Increase debt/GDP
(in percentage points)
(with # if
split during term)
(with # if
split during term)
|Roosevelt/Truman||D||1945-1949||117.5%||93.1%||0.05||-24.4%||79th D, 80th R||79th D, 80th R|
|Dwight Eisenhower||R||1953-1957||71.4%||60.4%||0.01||-11.0%||D||83rd R, 84th D|
|Ronald Reagan||R||1985-1989||43.8%||53.1%||1.04||+9.3%||D||99th R, 100th D|
|George H. W. Bush||R||1989-1993||51.1%||66.1%||1.40||+13.0%||D||D|
|Bill Clinton||D||1993-1997||66.1%||65.4%||1.18||-0.7%||103rd D, 104th R||103rd D, 104th R|
|George W. Bush||R||2001-2005||56.4%||63.5%||1.73||+7.1%||R||107th Split, 108 R|
|George W. Bush||R||2005-2009||63.4%||83.4%||2.63||+20.0%||109th R, 110th D||109th R, 110th D|
(This information is taken from the White House FY Budget.)
The supposed patron saint of the right, Ronald Reagan, quickly changed that, and debt rose to 10% of GDP. For some reason this isn’t talked about very much. Then we get a Democratic president who completely erases the national deficit and even builds a 9% surplus. So what happened when the next Republican became president? Again, a huge rise in debt, this time up to 20% of GDP.
I do not think, though, that the blame lies completely with the presidency. I tend to believe in zeitgeist, or “spirit of the times,” meaning that a President largely inherits what befalls him. It was Clinton’s luck to have a booming economy in which the debt could be relatively easily erased.
And the debt has increased significantly under President Obama. But again, Obama inherited a very fragile economy and a set of expensive demands from citizens. If the economy picks up again soon, the debt could easily be erased by the next president.
So why, then, such sharp criticism of Obama on this point? If you truly feel that debt is a problem, then criticize uniformly. Don’t pray to Reagan while cursing Obama. They both did the same thing. For all of the lines that divide us, even these two presidents are very similar.
There is another issue which can further prove my point and make you think twice before you charge the government with excessive taxing. In the US tax rates were the lowest they have been since 1950. (According to a USA Today analysis of federal data: “Federal, state and local taxes, including income, property, sales and other taxes, consumed 9.2 percent of all personal income in 2009, the lowest rate since 1950.”) That is stunning…something not seen in 60 years, even with the Republican presidents!
So when allegations of an unconstitutional, out-of-control government are raised, and when Obama is compared to Hitler, consider the facts. And if you still feel that you have ammunition to use and can think of a more intelligent solution than the ones now being employed, then be my guest.