At the beginning of 2001, the Congressional Budget Office projected we would wipe out our federal debt by 2006. It's certainly arguable that their projections were off, but they were not off by anywhere near enough to explain what actually took place. Here we are with a growing mountain of debt, as they say.
To follow up on my previous two posts on what changed the equation, Pew Research is out with a short, graphic-heavy paper pinpointing exactly why we're in the mess we're in. The verdict: Just over half was caused by tax cuts and the recession, which made revenues plummet. The rest is a variety of spending increases, led by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and having to pay more interest on the debt because of all the other action we took.
In the graph below, the line on the bottom is what the debt was projected in 2001 to do. The line at the top is what it actually did. Everything in between is why it happened.
Read the piece here.