We have now gone past 16 trillion in debt, I bet the GOP wishes their convention had lasted a couple of days longer so their center piece debt clock could have ticked over that number. It's incredible that they get away with pretending that the debt isn't their fault. Reagan inherited a debt of less than one trillion dollars, this was accumulated from 1790 until 1981. He then added another $3 trillion to the debt in a spending orgy, mostly on the military without fighting a real war. Fighting WWII only cost about 350 billion in 1980 dollars. The interest on Reagan's debt, compounded over the past 30 years more than doubles the amount of his debt.
Inflation is an important factor in considering the relative impact of deficit spending. The right makes much of the trillion dollar deficits that Obama has been running, (never mind that this is still the Bush budget he is operating on). To match Reagan, Obama would need to run up $9 trillion in eight years. He's currently running close to that curve, but only if you don't allow for growth of the population or in the GDP of the country. In reality no President is ever likely to run up the kind of debt that Reagan did.
George Bush took debt pay down plan put in place by Clinton and turned it on its head. The thing that is really insidious about it is that Clinton severely cut into the things government should do for its people to balance the budget. Bush kept the cuts, spent the savings on his cronies, and another extra trillion a year on the credit card.
Let's be clear, Obama has not really fixed things. He's clamped the severed artery, and that's all. This has only bought us Progressives some time to get it together and fight back.
There is one all important thing to remember, nobody has mortgaged our kids futures if we don't let them get away with it. Debt is nothing but paper, remember that, it's paper. A shredder or a bonfire will take care of it in short order. Too bad for the rich people who loaned us our own money instead of paying any taxes, but that's the way the tumbrel rolls.