As the new budget plan from the Obama Administration comes out today, it brings back old memories of my early days as a reporter in Washington, D.C., with an event that still gets repeated.
Reporters from all around the city will line up at the Government Printing Office about seven blocks to the north of the U.S. Capitol, and at 9:30 EST will get handed a huge, several volume tome that looks like a softback encyclopedia.
Yes, that’s how the budget gets handed out to many a reporter still, in these times of computers.
There was always an air of excitement as you check in with your press tags, stand in line on the stairs of this old building – after waiting outside in the cold, early Feburary chill – waiting to get your hands on the budget.
There would always be a bunch of TV camera crews there, and if you were lucky, you might make the news on one of the networks, standing in line, getting this big slab of documents.
Of course, it is not an easy document to decipher. I have gone home many times after writing stories about the budget, worried sick that I had read the wrong number, not understand the hieroglyphics or screwed things up in some way.
By far, my favorite part of the federal budget is called, “Historical Tables”, which is chock full of all kinds of data about budgets past.
You can find last year’s Historical Tables at http://bit.ly/3dC77q .
Scroll down to “Table 7.1 – Federal Debate at the End of Year: 1940-2014.”
The best thing about all these figures is it is just numbers. You don’t have to listen to all of the partisan hackery behind why this program was picked and that one was not.
So from that section, here are the relevant numbers in recent years for the overall federal debt, and how it has grown since the end of the Bush I years.
1992 $4,001,787 – Clinton starts early ’93
1995 $4,920,586 – GOP now runs Congress
2000 $5,628,700 – Bush takes over Jan ’01
2007 $8,950,744 – Dems now run Congress
2008 $9,985,757 – Obama takes over Jan ’09
2009 $12,867,455 (estimated)
Tomorrow, we will take a look at what the new tables say about the debt.