Mountain of Debt 12-01-17 See Michael's latest cartoons HERE
U.S. Debt by President: By Dollar and Percent
Why the Winner Is...Barack Obama
By Kimberly Amadeo THE BALANCE
Updated December 01, 2017 What's the best way to determine how much each president contributed to the $20 trillion U.S. debt? The most popular method is to compare the debt level from when a president enters office to the debt level when he leaves. A good visual representation is a graph showing the percent of the debt accumulated under each president. You can also compare the debt as a percent of economic output.
But these aren't accurate ways to measure the debt created by each president.
Why? The president doesn't have much control over the debt added during his first year in office. That's because the budget for that fiscal year was already set by the previous president.
For example, President Bush took office in January 2001. He submitted his first budget in February. But that was for FY 2002, which didn't begin until October 1. For the first nine months of his new term, Bush had to live with President Clinton's last budget. That was FY 2001, which continued until September 30, 2001. This is why no new president is accountable for the budget deficit in his first year in office.
Yes, it's confusing. But the federal fiscal year is set up that way to give the new president time to put together his budget during his first month in office.
The Best Way to Measure Debt by PresidentOne way to measure the debt by president is to sum his budget deficits. That's because the president is responsible for his budget priorities.
Each year's deficit takes into account budgeted spending and anticipated revenue from proposed tax cuts or hikes. For details, see Deficit by President and Deficit by Year.
But there's a difference between the deficit and the debt by president. That's because all presidents can employ a sleight of hand to reduce the appearance of the deficit.
They can borrow from federal retirement funds. For example, the Social Security Trust Fund has run a surplus since 1987. That's because there were more working people contributing via payroll taxes than retired people withdrawing benefits. The Fund invests its surplus in U.S. Treasury notes. The president can reduce the deficit by spending these funds instead of issuing new Treasurys.
Barack Obama -- Under President Obama, the national debt grew the most dollar-wise. He added $7.917 trillion, a 68 percent increase, in seven years. This was the fifth-largest increase percentage-wise. Obama's budgets included the economic stimulus package. It added $787 billion by cutting taxes, extending unemployment benefits, and funding public works projects. The Obama tax cuts added $858 billion to the debt in two years. read more
Michael Ramirez's latest artwork honoring America's veterans is now available in a limited signed and numbered print. Reproduced with archival inks on fine art paper, the image measures approximately 14' x 9' with a 1' border for a total size of 16" x 11' Click HERE or on the image to see pricing.
Original sketch, original ink drawing and the first print are also available as a single set. All of Michael's available art may be viewed HERE