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This chart, published by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's office, has made the rounds online recently, particularly on social networking websites.
However, is this chart really telling the whole story? After all, the House of Representatives proposes and ultimately controls federal spending, not the president. So, why would Pelosi's office put out a chart based around the presidents?
Obviously, it downplays the skyrocketing debt during President Obama’s term relative to other presidencies. The chart does not even mention that at the time of publication, the president had only been in office for two years, compared to eight years for Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. More importantly, the chart also disguises the fact that massive spikes in debt creation usually came while Democrats controlled the House. Here’s the reality:
This chart is structured like Pelosi's chart. The major difference is that we’ve highlighted Congress since 1981, instead of the presidency. Of those sixteen Congresses, Democrats controlled the House nine times while Republicans controlled it seven times. While in power, the Democrats dramatically outspent the Republicans. The 471% increase in the debt during 18 years of Democratic control is staggeringly more than the 105% increase during 14 years of Republican control.
Consider the contrasting stories told by these two charts. Pelosi's office is telling a fairy tale that places the blame for an exploding debt squarely on Republican presidents, especially Reagan and George W. Bush. However, reality provides a very different account: It was Democrats controlling the House that swelled the debt. Presidents don’t hold the “purse-strings” of government, only the veto power. Nancy Pelosi’s chart is simply deceptive.
Undoubtedly, many readers will correctly argue that both percentages are far too large and that both parties are to blame for profligate spending in Washington. It’s helpful to look at each individual Congress. It reveals that overspending is indeed a bipartisan problem, particularly during the last ten years.
The stunning rise in the national debt since 2000 occurred under both Republican and Democratic leadership in the House and the presidency. Neither party can claim a spotless record with regard to deficit spending and debt creation. Still, the degree to which the Democrats in Congress under President Obama’s leadership have engaged in both of these practices is frightening. The federal government will default on its debts if the public does not force those in power to cut back spending.
The chart put out by Nancy Pelosi's office is not only misleading in its attempt to shift away blame, it also misses the larger point. Our focus must be aimed directly at addressing the debt in a serious and lasting manner. The grassroots-generated Tea Party Budget is a realistic, significant effort to accomplish just that by cutting spending by $9.7 trillion dollars over the next ten years and balancing the budget in four years.
If you would like to learn more about the Tea Party Budget, here is the link.