I just got back from DC where I shared my "solving problems with pictures" tools with the U.S. Senate. It was an eye-opening experience.
Doug Steiger, New Policy Director of the Democratic Policy Committee, invited me to talk to the heads of staff of the Senators from the Democratic side of the aisle.
About sixty of us met in hearing room 628 in the Dirksen Senate Building, across the street from the US Capitol. Since I normally consult with business executives, it was fascinating to talk about the challenges that political staff deal with daily. After all, this is Washington, and this is REAL politics.
Whenever I give a workshop, I ask in advance for a sample problem relevant to my audience, so that I can demonstrate the power of pictures in a context drawn from their real-world experience.
In this case, Doug supplied me with a thick set of economic data comparing eight years of the Clinton Administration with eight years of the George W Bush administration.
Once drawn out, the results are shocking. I share here the drawings that I made for the Senators. (Data sources are listed at the bottom of this posting.)
After eight years of Clinton GDP rose more than 4%. After eight years of Bush it fell to 2.5%:
After eight years of Bush the national debt nearly doubled, and a budget surplus became a budget debt:
New jobs fell; the number of Americans below the poverty line increased:
The number of American families with health insurance fell (the costs of insurance rose), and family income also fell:
The prices of everything went up (at a far greater pace than inflation):
Yet our ability to pay for things fell:
Our dependence on foreign oil went up (and Bush was the "oil president"?):
Our trade deficit doubled while the dollar halved in value against the Euro:
And lastly, every major nation's perception of the US fell precipitously:
Based on looking at this data alone, there was only one more picture I could draw:
Bureau of Economic Analysis
Department of the Treasury
Congressional Budget Office
Bureau of Labor Statistics
United States Census Bureau
Kaiser Study of Employer Health Care Benefits
Energy Information Administration
Insurance Information Institute
Pew Research Center