The tab…

May 4, 2011

The Great Debt Shift, an analysis of the sources of America’s burgeoning national debt published by Pew Charitable Trust, has garnered a lot of attention in part because of some pretty amazing graphics like this one. How did the U.S. run up such a tab? Lots of moving parts, but the Pew analysis does a nice job of highlighting the policy or legislative initiatives that contributed to the running tally. The report estimates the proportion of the accumulated debt during the ten years between 2001 and 2010 associated with specific policies:

  • The 2001/2003 tax cuts: 13 percent
  • Growth in nondefense spending: 10 percent
  • Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan: 10 percent
  • The 2009 stimulus: 6 percent
  • Medicare Part D (Rx coverage): 2 percent
  • Growth in net interest due to legislative changes: 11 percent


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