Explore 60 years of budget deficits in one chart

When President Obama took office in 2009 at the height of the recession, the annual budget deficit came in at 10.1 percent of gross domestic product -- a level not seen since the end of World War II. In the five years since, the budget deficit has been sliced more than half. New figures in Obama's just-released budget put it at only 3.7 percent of GDP in 2014. Explore 60 years of deficits - and the occasional surplus - in the interactive chart below. As the chart shows, the recent reduction of the deficit has come primarily due to spending cuts instead of revenue increases. Spending has shrunk 4.1 percentage points from 2009 to today, while revenue has grown only 2.2 percentage points in the same period. To put it another way, there have been nearly $2 in spending cuts for every $1 in revenue increases. On the surface, it would appear that Republicans won the budget wars. But you wouldn't get that impression listening to the rhetoric coming from some quarters of the Republican base after the recent debt-ceiling fights.

Christopher Ingraham writes about politics, drug policy and all things data. He previously worked at the Brookings Institution and the Pew Research Center.
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