Nothing seems to get politicized like the deficit, so with that in mind, we publish this chart seen over at Instapundit and published originally at The American Thinker showing deficits for the last several years with and without the Iraq War.
So, how many ways can we interpret this data?
The American Thinker offers the conservative spin
“Do you see alarming deficits or trends from 2003 through 2007 in the above chart? No. In fact, the trend through 2007 is shrinking deficits. What you see is a significant upward tick in 2008, and then an explosion in 2009. Now, what might have happened between 2007 and 2008, and then 2009? Democrats taking over both houses of Congress, and then the presidency, was what happened. Republicans wrote the budgets for the fiscal years through 2007. Congressional Democrats wrote the budgets for FY 2008 and on.”
Yes, that’s one thing that happened between 2007 and 2008. Another thing that happened? Oh right, the economy went to hell in a handbasket.
And while it’s true that deficits were shrinking between 2003-2007, remember by the same kind of accounting, we ran surpluses during the Clinton years, which (for the purposes of politics, we presume) we left off of this chart. Otherwise, it would look like deficits shot up under Bush’s budgets (which they did!).
As for the shrinking deficits, were they due to anything Congress did, or merely the fact that 2003-2007, was a period of post-recession boom? Almost certainly the latter.
Of course, you could go further. Maybe Bush is to blame for the current, economic malaise, but then, maybe Clinton was to blame for the recession in the early Bush years.
You can go on and on, and while it’s fair to say that a certain policy may have weakened or strengthened the economy, the one thing that’s pretty clear is that the deficit itself is not about spending or budget-writing, but about where were are in the cycle.
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