The United States started 2001 with a cozy nest egg of more than $2 trillion, and now the country owes about $10 trillion—but who's to blame? Put simply, Obama-era policies account for $1.7 trillion of the debt, and Bush policies for over $7 trillion, the Washington Post reports in an economic breakdown of the past 10 years. As the Post has it, America's biggest challenge entering the 21st century was figuring out how to spend its Clinton-era surplus—and Bush decided to throw most of it at tax cuts.
Shrugging off Clinton's desire to save the money for Social Security, Congress approved $1.7 trillion in tax cuts with Alan Greenspan's blessing. Then the federal government went on a spending spree, paying for two wars on borrowed money, and ran right into the Great Recession. By then, most of the economic damage was already done. “Nobody would have thought that all these things would have happened after you cut taxes,” says former GOP Senator Pete Domenici. “You would pause before you did it, if you knew.” (Click through to read about the secretive debt "super committee.")