James Fallows of the Atlantic discusses Chuck Spinney’s analysis of where the federal debt came from. Spinney begins by asking this question: “So, as a first cut into a complex issue, perhaps it is time for the angry masses to ask which political party put them into the fiscal straight jacket that is setting them up for this horrible choice?”
Chuck Spinney, who spent his career as a budget analyst in the Pentagon — that’s him, on the cover of Time for his defense-reform work in the Reagan era — has an idea about the answer. The green in the chart below shows periods when America’s overall federal debt burden shrank; red, when it grew. Spinney, by the way, is no one’s idea of a standard liberal. He’s more a deficit hawk than anything else, meaning both that he’s hard-line against excess spending and that he’s pro-defense but cheap.