In USA Today, Jon Gabriel shows why it’s important to know the difference between a deficit and a debt, especially when discussing the US federal government:
It’s an imperfect analogy, but imagine the green is your salary, the yellow is the amount you’re spending over your salary, and the red is your credit card statement. Then tell your spouse, “Don’t worry, dear, I just increased our debt ceiling with a new Visa card!”
The chart is brutally bipartisan. Debt increased under Republican presidents and Democratic presidents. It increased under Democratic congresses and Republican congresses. In war and in peace, in boom times and in busts, after tax hikes and tax cuts, the Potomac flowed ever deeper with red ink.
Our leaders like to talk about sustainability. Forget sustainable — how is this sane?
Yet when any politician hesitates before increasing spending, he’s portrayed as a madman. When Paul Ryan, R–Wis., offered a thoughtful plan to reduce the debt over decades, he was pushing grannies into the Grand Canyon and pantsing park rangers on the way out.
I’m sure that my chart will be criticized. A few on the right will say it’s too tough on the GOP while those on the left will claim it doesn’t matter or it’s all a big lie.
Wonks will say the chart should be weighted for this variable and have lines showing that trend. All are free to create their own charts to better fit their narrative, and I’m sure they will. But the numbers shown can’t be spun by either side.
All the figures come directly from the federal government, and math doesn’t care about fairness or good intentions. Spending vastly more than you have, decade after decade, is foolish when done by a Republican or a Democrat. Two plus two doesn’t equal 33.2317 after you factor in a secret “social justice” multiplier.
And my chart doesn’t mention future projections due to exploding entitlements, which Trump didn’t touch. Turn to the much scarier Congressional Budget Office chart for that.