Politicians and the debt

Everyone always comments that the debt rose sharply under Republican presidents and declined under Democrats...basically just Clinton. And, it's true. Here's the graph.

But no one points out that in Washington, it takes three to tango. Here's the same data, matched to control of the Senate:

And here it is matched to the House of Representatives:

One note on how I colored the bars. I figured if a politician gets elected in 2010, he takes office at the start of 2011, but the first budget that he can pass is for the 2012 year. So that's how I colored the bars, and that's why it might look a little off. I didn't just go by election year. Otherwise, Republicans would get assigned our current year, even when all of Washington was firmly in the hands of Democrats, and I figured there was also a lag between taking office and actually starting to change things. For example, with this method, Bush gets blamed for Tarp I. Otherwise, it would have all fallen under Obama.