In recent years we’ve heard a lot of talk about how the federal deficit exploded under the Bush administration. But in fact, with the exception of the last quarter of Bush’s presidency (Oct – Dec 2008), the average deficit of the Bush years was 2% of GDP, equal to the historical average since WWII. By contrast, the federal deficit has averaged a catastrophic 9% of GDP during the Obama administration
See for yourself. Here is the federal deficit as a percentage of GDP through the Bush and Obama years. (Source: White House historical tables):
As you can see, the deficit exploded in Fiscal Year 2009. Of course that fiscal year started in October of 2008, and includes the last quarter of Bush’s presidency, when TARP was passed. You could plausibly say the deficit explosion started at the very end of Bush’s presidency, but even then he was responsible for only about a third of the increased deficit from Fiscal Year 2008 to Fiscal Year 2009.In any case, Obama came in for the second, third, and fourth quarters of that fiscal year, and piled on stimulus and other supplemental spending bills several times larger than TARP. That’s where most of the “exploding deficit” for 2009 comes from.
More important, the deficit exploded in the last quarter of Bush’s presidency because Bush embraced emergency bailout/stimulus policies. Those policies have been expanded and structurally entrenched under the Obama administration. Hence our exploding national debt.