If you like to look at graphs, check out the Wonkblog’s recent post at the Washington Post: 2012: The Year in Graphs.

There are all sorts of interesting elements to the graphs, which were chosen by guest contributors.

Calculated Risk displays one that shows how housing and contraction by state and local governments will likely cease being a drag on GDP in 2013.

There’s a graph showing the long decline — beginning before the 2007 recession — of the decline in inflation-adjusted wages for middle income workers.

Sheila Bair, former chair of the FDIC, contributes a graph showing the growing debt to income ratio for earners in the bottom 95 percent.

And there’s this graph, from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which shows how policies and circumstances in the 21st century have swelled the federal deficit:

CBPPdeficit

We engaged in wars we didn’t pay for. The Bush tax cuts, the first of which came at a time when the federal budget showed surpluses, left the government hopelessly in the red. The recession exacted a huge toll — cutting tax revenues and forcing greater expenditures on safety net programs.

And Obama’s stimulus package (and the Troubled Asset Relief Fund begun under Bush) cost us, but only temporarily. Without those efforts, we would have certainly seen the economic downturn take an even bigger bite.

This is a key reason going over the so-called fiscal cliff is not such a terrible idea. We had a balanced budgets at the end of the Clinton years. Just rolling back to those policies will go a long way toward righting the ship.

Of course, we don’t need to go through that much austerity that quickly.

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