Who caused our deficit? Hint: George B-U-S-H

Remember the chart below when talking to friends. And also remember, when Bill Clinton left office in 2001, we had a budget SURPLUS!

This week Republicans will attempt to move the national political conversation back to a familiar theme with a series of attacks on President Obama over the national debt. The GOP released a web video Monday bashing his “broken promises” on the deficit and previewed a major speech Tuesday by likely presidential nominee Mitt Romney on the issue.

Divorced from context, the numbers are uncomfortable for the President and are ready-made for pointed partisan attacks. Under Obama’s watch the national debt has risen from roughly $10 trillion to $15 trillion, a record high. But to what extent are his decisions while in office to blame? The answer: very little. The vast bulk of the debt is the result of policies enacted during the Bush administration coupled with automatic increases in federal spending and decreases in tax revenue triggered by the economic downturn. Here’s the truth in chart form:

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