Friday, February 27, 2009


(Sent to the Albany Herald in response to numerous uninformed comments published in both news and reader comments- as it happened, Ronald Reagan was far and away the worst president at deficit reduction and budget discipline- and he had a Republican Senate his first six years, 1981-1986, so you can't blame a Democratic Congress for the out of control budget deficits and tripling of the national debt. But in sheer numbers, George W. Bush added $5 trillion, mostly through his incompetence, again with a Republican Congress- both houses, his first six years, 2001-2006, except for a brief year- 2001-2002, when the Senate was run by Democrats.)

When discussing the relative impact of Republican and Democratic presidents on spending and deficit and debt reduction (deficit being the amount that spending exceeds income in one year, while the national debt is the total of all amounts owed by the Federal Government at any given moment), it is helpful to have the facts, courtesy of the United States Treasury Department. As the late Senator Patrick Moynihan famously said, everyone is entitled to their own opinions- but not their own facts. Here are the facts. You can draw your own conclusions:

When Jimmy Carter came into office January 20, 1977, the national debt was about $620 billion. When he left office and Ronald Reagan took office January 20,1981, the national debt was under one trillion dollars (about $907 billion, an increase of $287 billion, or 46%, which was an 11.5% increase each year in office). When President Reagan left office in 1989 and his vice president, George H. W. Bush succeeded him, the national debt had more than tripled to $2.8 trillion dollars ($2.1 trillion additional debt in 8 years- a 230% increase, or about 29% per year). When George H. W. Bush's term ended and Bill Clinton took office January 20, 1993, our total national debt was $4.2 trillion ( $1.4 trillion more, an increase of 50% in 4 years, 12.5% per year). When President Clinton left office and George W. Bush took office on January 20, 2001, our total national debt was $5,727,776,738,304.64 (rounded to $5.7 trillion- an increase of 36%, about 4.5% per year). When President Bush left office January 20, 2009, it was $10,626,877,048,913.08 (a $5 trillion increase to $10.7 trillion- an 88% increase, 11% increase per year).

The last four full years of Clinton's presidency, from September 1996 to September of 2000, the national debt increased from $5.3 trillion to $5.7 trillion, a $400 billion increase ($100 billion per year), a less than 10% total increase in the national debt during those years (2.5% per year). In terms of slowing the increase in the national debt, those were the best four years out of the last 32 years.

Now you have the facts.


Post a Comment

<< Home