THE BLOG

Supply Side Economics and Generational Theft

03/26/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Sometime over the last few weeks Republicans started to use the phrase "generational theft" to describe the stimulus bill. I found this particularly interesting considering supply-side economics started the idea of massive government debt issuance.

Let's start with Reagan. According to the Congressional Budget Office, he never balanced a budget -- despite the fact he was a "fiscal conservative." As a result, total debt outstanding increased from $1.2 trillion in 1981 to a little under $3 trillion in 1989 (the year of his last budget). Here's a graph of total debt outstanding under Reagan's leadership:

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Bush I continued the trend. He was a "fiscally responsible" Republican. He never balanced a budget. And total debt outstanding also continued to increase. It increased from 3.2 trillion to 4.4 trillion at the end of fiscal 1993 (the last Bush I budget). Here's a graph of total debt outstanding under Bush I's leadership:

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And then there is Bush II -- another "fiscally responsible" Republican. He never balanced a budget. And according to the Bureau of Public Debt, total debt outstanding increased by $500 billion/year starting in fiscal 2003:

09/30/2008 $10,024,724,896,912.49
09/30/2007 $9,007,653,372,262.48
09/30/2006 $8,506,973,899,215.23
09/30/2005 $7,932,709,661,723.50
09/30/2004 $7,379,052,696,330.32
09/30/2003 $6,783,231,062,743.62
09/30/2002 $6,228,235,965,597.16
09/30/2001 $5,807,463,412,200.06
09/30/2000 $5,674,178,209,886.86

So when we hear Republicans talk about generational theft, well, they know of what they speak.