Thursday, September 08, 2005

More Fun With The Public Debt Data

by Tom Bozzo

I couldn't resist a little more digging through the data available at the Bureau of the Public Debt web site.

Over the course of the Clinton budgets (FY 1994-FY 2001), the public debt increased by $1.396 trillion. Of that, 62.5% represented net surpluses accumulated in the off-budget trust funds, mainly Social Security's. We aren't against pre-funding Social Security or like entitlements here at MU, as long as the government makes good on its marker, so I won't hold that against anyone. The upshot is that all the other debt of the federal government increased by $523 billion in eight years.

Under Bush to date (FY 2002 through 11 months of FY 2005), just under half as much time, we've rolled up $2.119 trillion in additional federal government debt. Only 33.7% of that represents accumulations in the aforementioned trust funds. So by advanced mathematics, Bush and the Republicans have rolled up $1.406 trillion in all-other-debt in four years, a whopping 168% increase over Clintonomics. And by any reasonable reckoning, four more budget years of the same are pending. But that's OK — it's not like we have to deal with the retirement of the baby boom generation or anything.

None of these figures are adjusted for inflation, but since consumer prices have increased only about 10% in the last four years, and 35% since 1993, there's no getting around that likening the Bushist approach to fiscal rectitude to the behavior of drunken sailors risks insulting drunken sailors. I expect that's no small part of the reason why Vanguard Group founder (*) and lifelong Republican John Bogle told Time he is "starting to think about deserting" (more about that interview later).

Or, as Jim Kunstler put it recently:
Has the world noted that the conservative establishment in America -- including the always prim George W. Bush and his buttoned-down minions, the heavenly hosts of mass-market evangelism, the zillionaire retired CEO authors of how-to-get-rich books, and the media tub-thumpers like David Brooks of the New York Times -- I repeat, has the world noted that they all preside over the most slovenly, undisciplined, and reckless economy the world has seen since mankind started bathing regularly?
I imagine this is becoming abundantly clear.


(*) Note, I am a Vanguard customer.
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