Saturday, January 2, 2010

Who is to Blame fo the FY 2009 Deficit?

Some Republicans, for instance, complain that Obama tripled the budget deficit in his first year. This assertion is understandable, since the deficit jumped from about $450 billion in 2008 to $1.4 trillion in 2009. As this chart illustrates, with the Bush years in green, it appears as if Obama's policies have led to an explosion of debt. But there is one rather important detail that makes a big difference. The chart is based on the assumption that the current administration should be blamed for the 2009 fiscal year.

While this might make sense to a casual observer, it is largely untrue. The 2009 fiscal year began Oct. 1, 2008, nearly four months before Obama took office. The budget for the entire fiscal year was largely set in place while President Bush was in the White House.

So if we update the chart to show the Bush fiscal years in green, we can see that Obama is mostly right in claiming that he inherited a mess.

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