The Weekly Standard recently published a comparison between US deficit today and during WW II. Looking at tables of data supplied by the government, here is the relevant tidbit.
|Fiscal Year||2005 $||% GDP|
It looks like the data goes both ways. In real dollars, we're borrowing more, but in terms of GDP we're borrowing less. I say "it looks like" because when you think about it, the data really doesn't go both ways.
First, it tells you that we are a much wealthier country. Wealthier by a factor of 6, in fact. Comparing '43 with '09, the deficit is twice as high, yet only 1/3 the portion of GDP.
Second, we're not fighting a war, we're paying bills. A case could be made for the deficit in '09 being caused by a banking collapse, but after that, it's just making payroll. Payroll is anyone getting a check from the government, working or not and that's the vast majority of the money we spend. Borrowing to make payroll is usually a very, very bad sign.
At first glance, this suggests that we are completely out of control as a society. The people of a wealthier country should require less government assistance and a nation at peace should not have to borrow money to make payroll.
I'm open to other interpretations.