The National Debt by President

national debt by president

There seems to be a lot of debate around the water cooler and the dinner table as to which President is most responsible for the increase in the National Debt.  In this article, I’d like to take a look at the growth in the National Debt by President using an unbiased approach.  This analysis uses National Debt figures from the U.S. Treasury Department and the White House Office of Management and Budget.

To be sure, there is plenty of blame to go around for the uncontrolled growth in the National Debt.  For this analysis, I’ve begun with Ronald Reagan’s first term and followed it through the first term of Barack Obama’s administration.  No effort has been made to cast any particular President in a favorable or unfavorable light.

The numbers below do NOT reflect the actual National Debt.  Instead, they reflect the amount of the INCREASE in the National Debt during each presidential term.

> Ronald Reagan’s First Term – $656 billion increase

> Ronald Reagan’s Second Term – $1.036 trillion increase

> George H.W. Bush’s Term – $1.587 trillion increase

> Bill Clinton’s First Term – $1.122 trillion increase

> Bill Clinton’s Second Term – $418 billion increase

> George W. Bush’s First Term – $1.885 trillion increase

> George W. Bush’s Second Term – $3.014 trillion increase

> Barack Obama’s First Term – $5.806 trillion increase

To summarize, the National Debt increased by huge amounts under each of these presidents.  However, the largest increase under any President, whether for one or two terms, occurred during Barack Obama’s first term, which saw an increase of $5.806 trillion to the National Debt. 

As of the end of President Obama’s first term, the National Debt stands at $16.433 trillion dollars.  Current Obama administration projections indicate that the National Debt will increase to over $20 trillion by the end of his second term. 

It is clear that the National Debt has been growing uncontrollably in recent years, regardless of which political party has been in power.  To reverse this trend, we need to hold our elected officials accountable and demand that they balance the budget and reduce the National Debt.

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