This chart from the NYT has been making its way around the internet, most recently over at Cafe Hayek, where Russ Roberts makes a few really great points. Notice that the largest contributor listed is the Bush tax cuts, coming in at $1.8 trillion:
Time and time again I’ve tried to dispel the notion that tax cuts are expenditures. It is simple – you cannot spend what you do not have. Claiming as such is akin to stating that someone is running a $50k deficit because their employer only pays them $35k per year.
Adhering to such a philosophy – that tax cuts are the key contributor to our debt – is to believe that our entire debt is due merely to a failure to raise taxes. It’s not an income problem, it’s a spending problem.