Home > debt, Decline of the USA, Graphics > USA National Debt Graph by President – Roosevelt to Obama

USA National Debt Graph by President – Roosevelt to Obama


The green line shows what would have happened to the national debt if Reagan and the Bushes had balanced their budgets as Reagan claimed he would.  For more information go to http://zfacts.com/p/318.html

  1. August 19, 2012 at 11:25 am

    If the projected budget surpluses following the Clinton years had materialized, instead of being given away, then we could have used some of that money to fight the onset of the Great Recession. We could have been in a position to fight that fight sooner, as well as without using deficit spending so much. Which means that much, if not all, of the short term deficits from 2009 would not have occurred – short term as in cyclical (stimulus, both expenditures and tax cuts; extensions of unemployment benefits; and if we could have prevented the economy from falling as far as it did, then also revenue decreases and welfare increases). Deduct that amount from the upward turn at the beginning of the Obama administration, and what do you get?

    • August 19, 2012 at 6:10 pm

      There’s no place that budget surpluses by the money-issuing authority are “saved”, so nothing to “dip into” in the event of a serious financial crisis.

      Indeed, the serious debt crisis is the private debt crisis, which is a bipartisan creation, has not been resolved by this administration, and which their challengers promise to make much, much worse.

  2. August 19, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    I am not against debt,as any other het econ. Moreover i find more interesting and useful to understand the reasons behind historical facts, more than finding personal responsabilities.

  3. Allen
    August 19, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    As productive capacity moved offshore, GDP decreased. This would increase the debt/GDP ratio even if debt alone had not increased.

  4. August 22, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Can you tell me to what extent the graph is due to political choices (war, taxcut, etc) and demographics – if you plotted (say) the earning power of the baby boomers, would you get a curve that looked the same from >1950 ?

    To me, the most striking feature is the reagan/bush I uptick – is that really tax cuts ?

  5. 544 Vs 300 million
    November 26, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    This does not take into account that Clinton stole ~2.4Trillion dollars from Soc. Sec.
    to pay down the Deficit !
    He took it from the “General Fund” .

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