Debt sucks. We all have it: our families, friends, and most of all, the government. Mainstream media is largely silent on the enormous amount debt, but it is an item that needs to be to discussed. It’s understandable why they don’t want to mention it, no one wants to discuss finances, especially ones in such dire straits as the country’s. When they do mention it, the coverage is typically misleading and omits key figures that paint only part of the true scenario.

Let’s take this MSNBC article for example.

By the technical numbers, the headline and assertions made are correct: the deficit has shrunk by over $1 trillion from the highest during Obama’s tenure to the lowest. In the phrasing of the title “Deficit Shrinks By $1 trillion in Obama Era,” this sounds like a great achievement, and we should all be happy.

Not so fast, though. Let’s look at the numbers a little more in depth. The budget did not shrink to under $1 trillion under Obama until 2013, which was his second term. To put the deficit performance in better perspective, let’s analyze the average annual deficits for the last 3 presidents, spanning  3 different decades. For the six years available at the time of the article, Obama’s average annual deficit was approximately $880 billion. In comparison, the average annual budget deficit during the Bush era, $450 billion, was approximately half of Obama’s. To compare even further, Clinton’s average annual SURPLUS was $63 million, meaning Obama’s average yearly deficit was nearly $1 trillion more than Clinton’s.  Additionally, Obama also oversaw three of the four deficits in excess of $1 trillion, with the lone other deficit falling to Bush. If you feel inclined to play around with the numbers yourself, all of the figures shown here were obtained from US Government Spending.

So yes, he did have a commendable reduction in the annual deficit, but when you present the data in a much more meaningful way while including an overall context to it, the numbers show Obama had the worse handling of annual deficits in history. As the old saying goes, “Figures lie and liars figure.”

Title Image via “Money” by Pictures of Money is licensed under CC BY 2.0