George W. Bush’s legacy in a pie chart

Matthew Yglesias made the chart from figures supplied by David Leonhardt in the New York Times.

Why is the Obama administration so constrained, and why is it so difficult to find ways to fund any change in health care?

Sources of our federal deficits, August 2009

Sources of our federal deficits, August 2009

Leonhardt wrote:

The story of today’s deficits starts in January 2001, as President Bill Clinton was leaving office. The Congressional Budget Office estimated then that the government would run an average annual surplus of more than $800 billion a year from 2009 to 2012. Today, the government is expected to run a $1.2 trillion annual deficit in those years.

You can think of that roughly $2 trillion swing as coming from four broad categories: the business cycle, President George W. Bush’s policies, policies from the Bush years that are scheduled to expire but that Mr. Obama has chosen to extend, and new policies proposed by Mr. Obama.

The first category — the business cycle — accounts for 37 percent of the $2 trillion swing. It’s a reflection of the fact that both the 2001 recession and the current one reduced tax revenue, required more spending on safety-net programs and changed economists’ assumptions about how much in taxes the government would collect in future years.

Yglesias described the chart’s inputs:

— “The first category — the business cycle — accounts for 37 percent of the $2 trillion swing.”

— Second, Bush-era legislation “like his tax cuts and the Medicare prescription drug benefit, [that] not only continue to cost the government but have also increased interest payments on the national debt.”

— Third, “Obama’s main contribution to the deficit is his extension of several Bush policies, like the Iraq war and tax cuts for households making less than $250,000 […] 20 percent of the swing.”

— Fourth, “About 7 percent comes from the stimulus bill that Mr. Obama signed in February.”

— Fifth, “only 3 percent comes from Mr. Obama’s agenda on health care, education, energy and other areas.”

Got any solutions for the deficits? Growing the economy may be the only way out — demonstrating, as if we needed to, the precarious situation we find ourselves in.  It’s a tightrope walk.

7 Responses to George W. Bush’s legacy in a pie chart

  1. […] George W. Bush’s Legacy in a Pie Chart: Sources of our Federal Deficits, 2009 – Matthew Yglesias, ThinkProgress […]


  2. Nick Kelsier says:

    And what individual liberties have you lost in the last two years?


  3. Andy Sutton says:

    I would make the point here that the Democrats have done nothing to undo what Bush did, which makes them just as bad. Especially considering all they did was criticize him for 8 years. One of these days you people will wake up to the fact that there are several things that prevail regardless of which ‘party’ is in power: debt, destruction of the US Dollar, and loss of individual liberties. Make a pie chart for that.


  4. Man says:

    Wow, Does the Blog, very mature.
    Do you even know what a socialist mean, or did you let Bill O’Reilly look that up for you?


  5. Grung_e_Gene says:

    I like Pie. Obviously Tipsey Canoe, President Bush, liked Pie, too. That’s why he made the Pie bigger for everyone to enjoy.


  6. […] to Ed at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub for the […]


  7. […] George W. Bush’s legacy in a pie chart – “Yeah … well … um … Obama’s a Socialist! So there!” […]


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