Paul Ryan is Washington's top chart man, and, as expected, was flanked by a chart when he presented the House Republican budget Tuesday. But terrifying charts of impending fiscal fears — and in bright blocks of color — are not a new thing. It's not even a computer-age thing. There have been charts of calamity forever. Here are some of the classics.
Granted, this chart is a little different than Ryan's. While Ryan's plan balances the budget in 10 years by severely cutting Medicaid, cutting Pell grants, and eliminating Obamacare, the chart below was Henry Wallace's "budget for abundance" when he was running for president in 1948 on the Progressive Party ticket. Wallace wanted less defense spending and more public welfare spending.
President Harry Truman explains the budget to reporters in 1951.
The 1950s-ish figures look cool.
We have been trying to cut Department of Defense spending for a very long time. In 1965, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara shows how the Pentagon saved $2.5 billion the year before by "buying only what we need" and "buying at the lowest sound price."
There is always pushback from defense hawks, however. Here then-Rep Gerald Ford shows there's a merchant ship shortage hurting the Vietnam war effort in 1965.
McNamara back with a sea of spending-cutting charts in 1965.
In 1971, Sen. Ted Kennedy showed some familiar-looking charts on the driver of our deficit spending, health care.
In 1984, Walter Mondale attacked Ronald Reagan for his deficit spending, showing each family's share of the deficit. Sound familiar? Politicians still use that trick.
Sometimes images are more powerful than lines. Then-Rep. Barbara Boxer showed excessive spending by holding up a sketch of a 10-cup coffee pot that the government paid $7,000 for.
Ross Perot aired 30-minute commercials on the deficit in October 1992.
In 1995, President Bill Clinton showed the budget deficit could actually go down.
In 1999, a simple chart.
Sen. Kent Conrad gave George W. Bush a gold medal in deficit spending.
Paul Ryan doing his chart thing in 2011.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.