That Cartoon from Facebook: “Who Increased the National Debt?” (w/Update)

Well, there is always a first time for an Internet scam. The chart below IS a scam. I was scammed. I’ve removed my original comment about this chart after a frequent commenter below suggested that it may not be what many people think that it is.

The correction, from Dem leader Pelosi‘s office, is this one:

But according to PolitiFact, it’s still skirting reality. Longstoryshort, here’s how:

We quickly discovered the source of the discrepancy: Whoever put the chart together used the date for Jan. 20, 2010 — which is exactly one year to the day after Obama was sworn in — rather than his actual inauguration date. We know this because Treasury says the debt for Jan. 20, 2010, was $12.327 trillion, which is the exact number cited on the supporting document that Pelosi’s office gave us.

However this error happened, it effectively took one year of rapidly escalating debt out of Obama’s column and put it into Bush’s, significantly skewing the numbers.

Using the corrected figures does mean that, superficially at least, Democrats have a point. The debt did still increase more, on a percentage basis, under Bush than it did under Obama. But other problems with the chart and its methodology undercut even this conclusion.

PolitiFact uses time ranges, public debt vs. gross debt, and debt vs. debt as a percentage of GDP to come up with they believe is the true estimate.

Reagan: Up 14.9 percentage points
George H.W. Bush: Up 7.1 percentage points
Clinton: Down 13.4 percentage points
George W. Bush: Up 5.6 percentage points
Obama: Up 21.9 percentage points (through December 2010 only)

So by this measurement — potentially a more important one — Obama is the undisputed debt king of the last five presidents, rather than the guy who added a piddling amount to the debt, as Pelosi’s chart suggested. Of course, all this goes to show that statistics can be used — and misused — to bolster almost any argument.

Unfortunately, that’s true. Next time, I’ll go to or look on Google to see whether charts like these are dealing with a full deck.

However, I’d also like to add that Obama, truly, is dealing with a recession/depression that was brought on by the last sitting president.

This has appeared about three or four times on my Facebook feed; approximately 7,000 people also like this chart. But it’s a phony, and Pelosi should know better. It makes Dems seem to be grasping for the high ground when we already occupy it.

~ by blksista on January 21, 2012.

2 Responses to “That Cartoon from Facebook: “Who Increased the National Debt?” (w/Update)”

  1. I would suggest you may want to retract this one. It’s false.


    • Thank you; this makes me mad as hell at Pelosi. But what can I expect from someone who learned from the Burton brothers and Willie Brown?


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