The Big Lie from the FNC/RNC propaganda machine is that our entire debt has been suddenly created by president Obama who took office in the midst of the steepest downturn since the 1930s, a downturn that began under Bush. Now its true that he hasn't slashed spending in such a crisis - and borrowed to keep the economy from going straight into the abyss; and it's true that the recession so depressed revenues that the short-term debt is unfathomable and the long term debt even less sustainable (which is why the Dish supports Bowles-Simpson). But anyone not blinded by Ailes propaganda knows that these problems are long-standing. Here's a chart, via Fallows, from Chuck Spinney, that shows the direction of the debt under each consecutive president since the Second World War. Including Truman is a little unfair since he presided over demobilization. But the rest is telling:
What this doesn't convey, of course, is the impact of recessions, which would mitigate Reagan and Bush I a little. But what you see, I think, is the impact of supply side madness. Eisenhower managed to reduce the debt burden by almost 2 percent a year. George W "deficits don't matter" Bush managed to add 1.6 percent a year without a significant downturn. And yet for some reason, the public still associated the GOP with fiscal conservatism. This is quite simply the biggest mass delusion I've witnessed in the quarter of a century I've lived in America.