Who Cuts Deficits Again?

UPDATE: Someone pointed out to me that the cartoon does not necessarily show deficits going down, so this is a better first paragraph than the original below:

You ran a cartoon on Tax Day April 15th depicting former president Ronald Reagan reducing spending by reducing taxes and President Obama increasing taxes by increasing spending. The latter might prove true, but is a prediction, and thus far Obama has proposed lowering taxes for 95 percent of us. The former is simply not true. Reagan cut taxes, but not spending. The national debt, taken as a percentage of gross domestic product, had been declining steadily and rapidly since the end of World War II when Reagan took office and signed budgets with bigger deficits than anyone had previously seen, massively increasing our debt. George H.W. Bush took the practice further, setting new records for deficit spending and debt. During Clinton’s presidency the deficit shrank for five years and became a surplus for the last three, reducing our debt. The most dramatic swing in U.S. history came when George W. Bush took office and immediately shifted us from surplus budgets to deficit budgets that dramatically broke his father’s record.

Send This to Any Newspaper That Uses Cartoons from the Albuquerque Journal

To the Editor:

You ran a cartoon depicting former president Ronald Reagan reducing the federal deficit and President Obama increasing it. The latter might prove true, but is a prediction. The former is simply not true. The national debt, taken as a percentage of gross domestic product, had been declining steadily and rapidly since the end of World War II when Reagan took office and signed budgets with bigger deficits than anyone had previously seen, massively increasing our debt. George H.W. Bush took the practice further, setting new records for deficit spending and debt. During Clinton’s presidency the deficit shrank for five years and became a surplus for the last three, reducing our debt. The most dramatic swing in U.S. history came when George W. Bush took office and immediately shifted us from surplus budgets to deficit budgets that dramatically broke his father’s record.

Now, I don’t think a budget surplus is the best measure of a presidency, and I was not a fan of Bill Clinton, but it is interesting that the Republican presidents, and the Congresses they served with, have loaded our children down with almost insurmountable debt, while the media so consistently tells us the opposite story. One reason for this, I think, is the reluctance of those in power and those who write about them to acknowledge that these Republican presidents have dramatically increased spending in an area we’re not supposed to question: the military. Thousands of Americans were in the streets on Wednesday protesting government spending on schools, jobs, healthcare, and bank regulation (as well as the insane Wall Street “bailout”) oblivious to the fact that over half of every dollar of income tax goes to wars, military, and debt for wars and military. (That’s 51% by the calculation of the War Resisters League. Feel free to do your own math; you will certainly end up at right around half of every dollar.) Has your paper ever told anyone that? In fact, Robert Gates has proposed the largest military budget yet (yes, with a Democratic president this time) and that story has been widely misreported as a budget reduction and depicted as such by the same cartoonist.

I know tax season is supposed to be a time for incoherent rage, but come on.

Honestly,
David Swanson

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