Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Obama's Debt Increase

I keep running into pronouncements about how much Obama has increased the National Debt. It's as if these people think the President controls all spending.

Of course what they really mean in their confused little brains is how much the National Debt has increased while Obama has been president.

The latest pronouncement I've run into stated confidently that he has added $9 trillion and counting to the National Debt.

Let's take a closer look shall we.

Barack Obama took office in January of 2009 so I suppose it's safe to say that even the dumbest wing nut would concede that he's not responsible for any debt accrued prior to FY 2009. So let's look at the federal deficits between FY 2009 and FY 2015.

FY 2009 - $1.41 trillion
FY 2010 - $1.29 trillion
FY 2011 - $1.30 trillion
FY 2012 - $1.09 trillion
FY 2013 - $0.68 trillion
FY 2014 - $0.48 trillion
FY 2015 - $0.43 trillion

That comes out to $6.68 trillion. Already this is a lot less than $9 trillion.

But let's talk about FY 2009. This was a Bush budget calling for $3.1 trillion in expenditures and had some $240 billion added as a result of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) in late 2008 and $200 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), also known as The Stimulus, in 2009. So Obama is really only accountable for the $200 billion from ARRA.

That makes the total now $5.48 trillion. But let's remember that your starting point is important and the Obama Administration started with a $1.2 trillion dollar deficit and a shrinking economy in the throes of the Great Recession.

But let's continue a bit. The federal budget is divided into two parts. One part is Mandatory Spending, such as Social Security and Medicare, which MUST be spent by law. This is long term stuff that presidents don't control. The other part which changes from year to year is Discretionary Spending.

Mandatory Spending has been increasing at a steady rate since the mid-1980s not only in total amount but in percentage of the federal budget. This is a problem that requires a combined rational approach from both Congress and the president but is sort of beyond the current topic.

During FY 2010 through FY 2015 Mandatory Spending accounted for an average of about 58% of the federal budget. So it's reasonable to say it accounted for 58% of the deficits. That leaves us with $2.30 trillion.

But the Obama Administration also inherited two wars and a military budget of $661 billion including $145 billion allocated to the "War on Terror." This number has since declined to $597 billion in 2015 but still represents about 50% of all discretionary spending so we're now down to about $1.15 trillion over six years or about $200 billion per year in deficits that the man had any control over.

Personally I would have liked to see the deficit come down even faster. A balanced budget by now would have made me a happy man but to try and pin $9 trillion in additional debt on the president is simply nonsense.

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