Debt/GDP Ratio: Reagan to Obama

Graphs like this would be even more useful once I discover how to add "recession bars" to it.

  1. Reagan oversaw a large debt increase from about 25% of GDP to 40%.
  2. GHW Bush saw a debt increase, but this was affected by the lost revenue of the early 90s recession.
  3. Clinton oversaw a a decline in debt levels from 50% of GDP to just over 30%.
  4. GW Bush oversaw a moderate increase in debt levels during most of his administration, followed by a substantial increase at the end as the GFC hit.
  5. The Obama stimulus was enacted after government finances had dropped substantially.
  1. Reagan was not fiscally responsible. If we extend the graph back into the 1960s and 1970s, we will see much a much lower debt/GDP ratio.
  2. In hindsight, GHW Bush made a courageous decision to increase taxes ("courageous" meaning sensible but politically suicidal)
  3. Clinton and the Democratic congress begun the process of debt reduction before the 1994 Republican revolution.
  4. GW Bush could have initiated incremental but consistent tax cuts rather than the huge cuts he signed into law in 2001 and 2003. This would've led to improved fiscal circumstances while allowing debt to be retired.
  5. Obama is not to blame for the current fiscal state of the US government.

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