The National Debt on September 30, 2017, the end of the fiscal year was $20.4 trillion. On September 30, 2021 the National Debt was $30 trillion. Obama added $6.9 trillion to the Debt in eight years following the Great Recession, the worst economic period we endured since the Great Depression.
In four years, from the end of the Fiscal Year in 2017 until September 30, 2021 the Debt increased $9.6 trillion in just four years. As of today, two weeks short of the Fiscal Year, the National Debt is at $30.9 trillion.
If once counts the increase in Debt from January 20, 2017 to January 20, 2021, the numbers increased from $19.9 trillion to $27.8 trillion, or $7.9 trillion.
Donald Trump: Added $7.5 billion, a 37.5% increase from $20.24 trillion at the end of Trump’s last budget FY, 2021
Barack Obama: Added $8.588 trillion, a 74-percent increase from the $11.657 trillion debt at the end of Bush’s last budget, FY 2009. (note FY 2009 added)
- attributed to the recovery from the Great recession.
George W. Bush: Added $5.849 trillion, a 101-percent increase from the $5.8 trillion debt at the end of Clinton’s last budget, FY 2001.
Bill Clinton: Added $1.396 trillion, a 32-percent increase from the $4.4 trillion debt at the end of George H.W. Bush’s last budget, FY 1993.
George H.W. Bush: Added $1.554 trillion, a 54-percent increase from the $2.857 trillion debt at the end of Reagan’s last budget, FY 1989.
Ronald Reagan: Added $1.86 trillion, a 186-percent increase from the $998 billion debt at the end of Carter’s last budget, FY 1981.
- Outside of the COVID-19 Relief Bills passed, Trump increased spending on agriculture more than any other area, jumping 194% between 2017 and 2019, from $14.2b to $41.7b
- Of the $1 trillion federal budget in 2020, $893 billions a deficit and half of that will be owed to China
- Trump cut corporate tax rates from 35% in 2017 to 21%in 2018
- The highest federal Income tax rate was reduced from 39.6% to 37%at the start of 2018
Who is Responsible for the National Debt? The Republicans Mostly!
Civil War which raised the Debt over 478% in 1862, WWI which increased it 155% in 1918, and WWII which also raised it 88% in 1943. Of course these were considered national emergencies and quite necessary and spending increased because of Korea, Vietnam and the two Gulf Wars.
The years after WWI saw national spending shrink in the first 11 years of Republican Administrations, as Harding-Coolidge and Hoover starved the government and the deficit shrunk from $24 billion to $16 billion. But that public policy created the conditions of “supply-side” economics and led to the Great Depression. Hoover tried spending in 1932 as he raised the National Debt over $ 3 billion, but it was too little and too late. The economic disaster of the Depression was well on the way until FDR and the New Deal.
Even in the heart of the New Deal, where recovery was critical, the Debt only increased 20% in 1934. In fact the spending of the whole New Deal was estimated at $60 billion, which was a lot of money in those days. In fact, the total National Debt went from 1933 through 1938 from $22 billion to $37 billion. Taxes on the American public, especially the rich, funded most of the cost of the recovery from, PWA, WPA, CCC, and AAA. But if you look at what was built in the New Deal, the cost was worth it; regarding roads, airports, schools, bridges, dams and an unprecedented amount of public works, which transformed America from mostly a rural society to the modern industrial colossus it became today.
During WWII the Debt went from $48 to $269 billion (1941 through 1946), but the actual cost of the war which was over $350 billion, almost 95% of our GNP, was paid by taxes, high taxes. After 1947 the Debt grew quite slowly through Truman and Eisenhower from $269 to $286 billion. Unfortunately the last five years of the Eisenhower Administration were economically stagnant, and the Recession of 1957-8 was devastating. Kennedy was forced to cut taxes and “prime the pump” of the economy. But, even with the tax cuts, increased spending and the Vietnam War in the middle and late 60’s, spending went up gradually from 1961 through 1968 and the National Debt grew from $288 to $347 billion, and average of less than 1.5% each year, until 1968 when it leaped 6.5%.
Huge increases followed in the eight years of Nixon-Ford as the deficits ballooned from $353 to $620 billion as the Vietnam War and domestic needs increased. So in eight years the National Debt almost doubled. Even in the first two FDR administrations, and the New Deal, the National Debt had not doubled.
Where did the real spending come from, another war, the one in SE Asia. By the time Carter was president debt continued to climb during those difficult years after Vietnam and the oil embargoes, two in 1973 and 1974 and one in 1979, (under Nixon and Carter) which created a great deal of inflation as gasoline went from around 37 cents to way over $1 per gallon. National Debt climbed in the Carter four years from $698 billion to close to a $1 trillion in 1981.
Did Reagan solve the Debt problem? For sure not! He cut taxes, raised interest rates to squeeze out the inflation caused by the 1979 oil embargo and the Debt, along with the second era of “supply-aside” spending, directed by David Stockman, based on the theories of Arthur Laffer ( the Laffer Curve) raised the Debt dramatically. Never in peace time have we seen such spending. The National Debt went up from $1 trillion to $4 trillion in the 12 years of Reagan-Bush, with huge increase every year. In fact unemployment, which had been 7.5% during the four years of Jimmy Carter, ballooned to over 10.5% in Reagan’s for 2 years, and by the time Clinton was inaugurated, 12 years later, it was at 7.3%. One could say that economically, that was a high price paid for an economy that basically stayed the same. During the first 8 years of Reagan, jobs, mostly connected to defense spending (600 ship navy and Star Wars) increased by 16 million. In the next four years under Bush 41, that total would shrink to 2.5 million created.
During the Clinton Years, the Debt increased from over $4 trillion to $5.6 trillion and increase of less than 40% in eight years, where in the previous 12 years it had gone up over 400%. In the last year the Debt only increased .03% the lowest since 1957, right before the massive Recession of 1957 in the 2nd Eisenhower Term. Aside from raising the Debt the smallest amount in decades, on a percentage wise basis, over 23 million jobs were created, a total higher than 50% of all of the jobs created in the GOP Administrations from Hoover through Bush 43, except Reagan.
In the years of Bush 43, the flat debt, with large surpluses he inherited from Clinton were soon spent with tax cuts, wars and the unfunded Part D, Medicare Drug benefit. Debt doubled again from $5.8 trillion to almost $12 trillion in 2009 as the Great Recession took hold and unemployment skyrocket to over 10% in June of 2009. Over 8 million jobs were lost from the last six months of Bush 43 into the first five months of the Obama Administration. But, jobs were clawed back as the deficit continued to grow, as the recovery and the long and expensive war in Iraq had to be ended. Again there is nothing like wars to create deficits: the Civil War, the World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East. Both Middle East wars affected both Bushes. During the Obama Years the debt went from $12 billion to over $19 billion. In fact, the percentage increase, during his 8 years, regarding the Great Recession, was only 60%, In the 8 years of Bush 43, it was almost 100%.
So now, before we were in the next era of massive spending without a war or a Recession, Trump promised to eliminate the National Debt of $19 trillion in eight years, the Debt had already climbed to over $4 trillion and over $23 trillion.
Thus, before the catastrophic contraction of the economy in April of 2020, from January 20, 2017, to November 1, 2019, Trump piled $3.1 trillion onto the debt, amounting to a 16% increase. That’s significantly less than the $4.3 trillion President Barack Obama added from January 2009 to November 1, 2011, but far more than the $1.1 trillion Bush added in a similar period and the $794 billion Clinton did in 1,016 days as president.
There is a key distinction separating the circumstances behind Trump and Obama’s debt figures. Trump inherited an economy undergoing its longest sustained expansion. Obama, on the other hand, entered the White House as the nation veered into a recession that sparked massive stimulus spending and a bailout of the auto industry.
Let’s talk about the numbers!
The National Debt the last Fiscal year of President Bill Clinton was $5.8 trillion. In between now and then the National debt has grown to $26.2 trillion as of today and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicts it will be $28.9 trillion on September 30, 2023. Since Clinton took office we have had the Great Recession, 2008-2009 under Bush 43 and the Greater Trump Recession. The Trump Reign of Error has accounted for 25% of the whole National Debt of the United States.
Fiscal year ended September 30th:
9-30-2001 $5.8 trillion
9-30-2009 $11.9 trillion (Great Recession)
9-30-2017 $20.2 trillion (Obama, fiscal year)
6-20-2020 $26.2 trillion
9-30-2023 $28.9 trillion (Trump Recession fiscal year)