This debt is your debt, this debt is my debt.


The cartoon was posted on Facebook, apparently from the account of former congressman Allen West. It comes as no surprise.

What the cartoon, by Jake Fuller, depicts is President Obama promising to protect a young boy from gun violence, at the same time shackling him to a lifetime of debt in the form of a cartoon ball and chain. I thought it was funny. And I mentioned this in a Facebook response:

The cartoon is dead on. What a succinct statement. However, the cartoonist placed the wrong president in the picture. And besides, I don’t recall such a statement from President Bush.

That initiated an exchange and a challenge:

You avoided my question – What has Obama actively done to reduce the debt? I could care less if your “skeptical” analysis puts Obama on the hero hill and Bush in the trash bin of history. Obama has had seven years to produce results so you should be able to enumerate a nice long list.

Since I don’t have a nice long list, I am resorting to pulling information that I can find on the Internet (reliable source that it is). A Google search with the key phrases “obama budget deficit” turned up a few references. Here are some.

This image is from MSNBC.


It does not show a debt reduction. It shows a reduction in deficit spending. Here is the story that goes with it:

In the not-too-distant past, talk in the political world of the U.S. budget deficit was all the rage. As the Tea Party “movement” took shape, conservatives quite literally took to the streets to express their fear that President Obama and Democrats were failing to address the “out of control” deficit.
Congressional Republicans agreed. As recently as 2013, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was asked about the radicalism of his political agenda and he responded, “[W]hat I would say is extreme is a trillion-dollar deficit every year.” Around the same time, then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) argued that Congress should be “focused on trying to deal with the ultimate problem, which is this growing deficit.”
The Republican rhetoric was ridiculously wrong. We don’t have a trillion-dollar deficit; the deficit isn’t the ultimate problem; and it’s not growing.
Strong growth in individual tax collection drove the U.S. budget deficit to a fresh Obama-era low in fiscal 2015, the Treasury Department said Thursday.
For the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 the shortfall was $439 billion, a decrease of 9%, or $44 billion, from last year. The deficit is the smallest of Barack Obama’s presidency and the lowest since 2007 in both dollar terms and as a percentage of gross domestic product.
Keep in mind, in the Obama era, the deficit has shrunk by $1 trillion. That’s “trillion,” with a “t.” As a percentage of the economy, the deficit is now down to just 2.5%, which is below the average of the past half-century, and down from 9.8% when the president took office.
Here is another item, this time from The Daily Signal:

The Obama administration is trumpeting a shrunken federal deficit as new justification for more spending and an end to mandatory budget cuts. The Congressional Budget Office, though, already has warned of “dramatic” debt trouble ahead.

The Department of Treasury last week released the numbers for fiscal year 2015, announcing a $44-billion drop in the deficit from the year before. The deficit stands at $439 billion, which is 2.5 percent of gross domestic product.

Shaun Donovan, director of the Office of Management and Budget, heraldedthe numbers as the lowest deficit since President Obama took office.

“The deficit has been reduced by nearly three-fourths as a share of the economy since 2009,” Donovan said in a written statement, adding that the figures represent “the most sustained deficit reduction since just after World War II.”

Hurrah! Not quite. Deficit reduction is not the same as debt reduction, which is the point of the Jake Fuller cartoon. Mr. Obama has not reduced the size of the government’s debt. In fact, nobody has for quite some time. Here is a graph from Wikipedia:


This shows the national debt of the United States, Germany, and Japan from 1970 to 2010. Debt value is not in actual money, but as a fraction of each country’s Gross Domestic Product, which is what really counts. This compensates for growth in a country’s economy. Go to the Wikipedia page to get a better view of this image. It shows the American debt wandering slowly upward in comparison to a stronger rise in the other two countries. There has been an up-tick in the US debt since Mr. Obama took office. No excuses offered, but compare with the up-tick in the previous administration and with the noticeable dive during the Clinton administration. One point in my Facebook responses was that the previous administration created a useless war and put $1.7 trillion on the nation’s credit card. Specifically:

Actually, my conversation is about the real winner in the debt contest. President Bush’s administration instigated a war based on trumped up motivation that is expected to finish out at $1.7 trillion. And it was mostly “put on the credit card.” Meaning it was mostly added to the national debt.

Please note that my Google search turned up multiple additional items reporting that the budget deficit has shrunk under the current administration. It did not turn up any reports that contradict this conclusion.

So, no, I do not have a long list, neither a short list of what Mr. Obama has done to remove the ball and chain from the little boy’s ankle. All I have are the facts, which facts are not easily summed up in a political cartoon.


One thought on “This debt is your debt, this debt is my debt.

  1. Pingback: This debt was made for you and me. | Skeptical Analysis

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