Debt and the real threat

Monday the President proposed his budget for Fiscal Year 2009. This is the first “e-Budget” – it was transmitted electronically as an official document to the Congress, and was digitally signed by the Executive Clerk.

At a press conference Monday, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) said:

But let me emphasize to you what I see in almost no stories: That is a four-letter word called debt. Nowhere do I see mentioned of what’s going to happen to the debt. It never leaves the administration’s lips. I have never seen it in a single story. I hear a lot of focus on the deficit.

No mention of what happens to the debt.

And I would suggest to you the debt is the threat. Why? Because if you look at what is scheduled to happen in this next year, according to the administration’s own estimates, while the deficit goes up over $400 billion, the debt will go up over $700 billion in one year. The big difference, of course, is Social Security money that is being used to pay other bills. It doesn’t get included in any deficit calculation, but every penny of it gets added to the debt.

The result is, under the Bush administration proposal, they are building a wall of debt. At the end of his first year, the gross debt of the United States stood at $5.8 trillion. We don’t hold him responsible for the first year because he wasn’t in charge the first year. The budget, as you know, is presented by the president outgoing.

If you look at the end of his eight years of responsibility, we see the debt as being over $10.4 trillion. That is almost a doubling of the national debt on his watch. You will recall, he said paying down the debt was a high priority. And we see the debt further escalating to more than $13 trillion by 2013.

One of Chairman Conrad’s charts says “The Debt is the Threat.” Let’s look at a chart, which purports to show the Federal debt under President Bush’s tenure. Looks pretty bad, no?

graph - building a wall of debt (Conrad)

This is easiest to analyze if we look at the simplest statement made by Chairman Conrad: “That is almost a doubling of the national debt on [the President’s] watch.” […]