In an unbylined update of the latest developments in the budget-tax-spending-debt ceiling discussions in Washington this morning, the Associated Press committed several blunders in attempting to explain what’s going on and how we got to where we are. First and foremost was its list identifying “contributors” to the $8.5 trillion growth in the national debt since 2001.

Here’s the AP’s you-can’t make-this-up, Comedy Central-worthy list of debt contributors:

Q: How did the debt grow from $5.8 trillion in 2001 to its current $14.3 trillion?

A: The biggest contributors to the nearly $9 trillion increase over a decade were:

– 2001 and 2003 tax cuts under President George W. Bush: $1.6 trillion.

– Additional interest costs: $1.4 trillion.
– Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: $1.3 trillion.
– Economic stimulus package under Obama: $800 billion.
– 2010 tax cuts (these weren’t cuts at all; they were really a continuation of the current income tax structure — Ed.), a compromise by Obama and Republicans that extended jobless benefits and cut payroll taxes: $400 billion.
– 2003 creation of Medicare’s prescription drug benefit: $300 billion.
– 2008 financial industry bailout: $200 billion.
– Hundreds of billions less in revenue than expected since the Great Recession began in December 2007.
– Other spending increases in domestic, farm and defense programs, adding lesser amounts.

So I guess the AP’s assertion that the Bush tax cuts were the biggest contributor to the deficit explains why the following graph shows how government collections tanked from 2003-2007.

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