Leonhardt, for example, makes a bunch of inconvenient debt that resulted from spending liberals deem “necessary” simply disappear. The stimulus bill championed and signed by President Obama was pegged at $787 billion, but the cost grew to around $2.6 trillion when “automatic stabilizers” — Keynesian spending increases embedded into law — were included. The above graph discounts “automatic stabilizers,” which are both supported by Democrats and a reflection of economic conditions.
While ignoring $1.8 trillion might be politically convenient, the fact is that the day Obama left office, the debt was almost $20 trillion, nearly double what it was when he got there. According to the Office of Management and Budget, the deficit went from just over 52 percent of gross domestic product at the end of fiscal year 2009 to 77 percent of GDP at the end of fiscal year 2016. With all that spending, Obama still oversaw the weakest recovery in American history.
The only other way a person can argue Obama “lowered deficits” is by comparing his first year of historically high deficits — fueled by outlays that he either signed into law, voted for, or supported — to his other years (akthough deficits were again rising by the end of his term). That is deceptive, to say the least.
Many presidents are guilty of growing the debt, but no president in history had ever taken on more than Obama did. And when we stop tipping the scale, and solely compare debt to the percentage of total economic output under all these presidents, we are left with a far different picture than Leonhardt’s selective framing.
Similar trickery was used to minimize American deaths to terrorist attacks, by ignoring the attacks of 9/11/2001.