Now, I have to admit that “deficits are bad” is one point where I can actually agree with Republicans. But, hopefully, you immediately picked up on some problems with this video. Some of the problems:
– The guy puts deficit spending (dollars) into MPH. The problem here is that deficit spending should be in terms of GDP. Afterall, back in 1900, the US GDP was less than $350 billion. It’s currently $14.264 trillion, a 40x increase. By framing the issue the way he does, he implies that a $5 billion deficit is just as bad for a country with a $1 billion GDP as a country with a $100 billion GDP, which is obviously false. In reality, a deficit of “5 MPH” in 1900 (i.e. 29 billion) in a country with a $350 billion GDP means the deficit is 8.3% of GDP. A deficit of “174 MPH” in a country of $14.264 trillion GDP means a deficit of 7.0% of GDP. By using absolute numbers (5 MPH vs 174 MPH), he makes the situation look a lot worse, when it’s actually better.
– His conversion of dollars to MPH is arbitrary (1 MPH = 5.8 billion). He then uses the fact that we all know that 174 MPH is a dangerous speed in a car to imply that the Obama deficit is dangerous spending. Had he chose a different conversion (1 MPH = 20 billion), then Obama would be driving the country at a relatively safe speed of 50 MPH? Or, if his conversion was 1 MPH = 2 billion dollars, would he complain that G.W. Bush was “driving” at dangerous 185 MPH? One has to wonder: if the US GDP grows another 10x in the next few decades, and the deficit-to-GDP ratio stays the same as under G.W.Bush, then would this guy complain that the country is speeding down the road at 640 MPH, even though nothing had really changed?
Oddly enough, the guy who made the video has a website called politicalmath.wordpress.com, yet he fails to actually do decent math.
Deficit spending is something we should be concerned with, but this video needs to be more truthful about the facts.
And, finally, the next chart shows the US deficit as a percentage of US GDP over the last century. It seems to conflict with a lot of what this guy says, since it shows (to his benefit) that the US deficit was apparently lower in 1900 than he claims. But, here it is anyway: