The Obama Debt Article is Technically True, But...





Illustration of a ScapegoatEarlier this week, an article surfaced on CNSNews.com titled "Obama Added More to National Debt in First 19 Months Than All Presidents from Washington Through Reagan Combined, Says Gov't Data".

The article spread like a virus online, making its way onto many different forums and blogs. Enter the URL of the article (http://cnsnews.com/news/article/72404) into Google, and you will get 1,360 results.

The article contends that the Obama Administration has added more to the US public debt total in just 19 months than all of the US presidents from George Washington through Ronald Reagan combined.

This is true.

What the article doesn't say is that the Washington through Reagan debt numbers WEREN'T adjusted for inflation.

For instance - in 1943, the United States government posted a deficit of $54.6 billion. This is just a drop in the bucket in 2010 dollars when compared to the deficits that are currently being posted. However, when adjusted for inflation, this $54.6 billion figure suddenly becomes nearly $700 billion in 2010 dollars.

A bit of a difference I'd say..

In 1919, the US government posted a deficit of $13.36 billion. This is nothing when compared to the deficits that have been posted over the past 8-9 years. However, adjust for inflation and you are looking at over $167 billion in 2010 dollars.

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The deficits that have been posted over the past couple of years have been staggeringly high - there is no denying that.

However, it's unfair to release an article that tries to compare the Washington through Reagan debt with the debt accumulated in the first 19 months under Obama WITHOUT adjusting for inflation.

In 1983, the United States posted a deficit of $207.8 billion. If I had written an article at the time with the title "Reagan Administration Posts Higher Deficit in One Year Than 1939-1945 Combined", many people would have been pissed, even if the article would have been factually accurate.

Or what if I wrote an article a few years back that claimed that the United States had added more money to its debt total in 2008 than the period from 1776-1972 combined? Again, this would have been totally unfair, even if it was factually accurate.

It's important to adjust for inflation when writing these types of articles. Also, you might want to consider population growth and debt to GDP ratios as well. I'm just sayin'...

Source: Davemanuel.com - History of Deficits and Surpluses in the United States

Source: CNSNews.com - Obama Added More to National Debt in First 19 Months Than All Presidents from Washington Through Reagan Combined, Says Gov't Data




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