Why did the government have to borrow so much more in such a short time? Here, six factors that hit the nation's bottom line:
1. The Bush tax cuts
The biggest culprit? The 2001 and 2003 tax cuts under then-president George W. Bush, says the Associated Press. They have added an estimated $1.6 trillion to the national debt. It's pretty clear, says Brian Beutler at Talking Points Memo, that Bush-era policies, "particularly debt-financed tax cuts," make up "the lion's share of the problem." And they're ongoing, so the tab for them builds every year.
2. Health care entitlements
Democrats "constantly harp" about the Bush tax cuts, says Peter Morici at Seeking Alpha, but those rates …show more content…
Those deficits would push total debt held by the public to 77 percent of GDP by 2021.
Moreover, CBO's baseline projections are predicated on the assumption that many policies now in place are allowed to expire over the next decade, as scheduled under current law. Those expiring policies include the major reductions in individual income taxes originally enacted in 2001 and 2003 and recently extended through 2012, as well as the higher exemption amounts for the alternative minimum tax. If those policies and others were extended, budget deficits would be much larger than in that baseline.
Over the longer term, the continued aging of the population and growth in health care costs will almost certainly push up federal spending significantly relative to GDP under current law. Without changes in law, spending on Social Security and the government's major mandatory health care programs (Medicare, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, and health insurance subsidies to be provided through insurance exchanges) will increase from roughly 10 percent of GDP today to about 16 percent over the next 25 years. If revenues stay close to their average share of GDP for the past 40