UPDATE: National Debt — Who is responsible?

Update: Analysis of Yearly Deficits section added.

National Debt is how much we owe for all the spending we’ve done over the years–our checking account balance. Yearly Deficits are how much we spent this year compared to how much money we brought in.

Check out this National Debt Clock:


That is a scary clock! But, which party is better on National Debt, yearly Deficits, and financial responsibility? My analysis is that Democrats have been better on all 3 for the last 60 years.

Screen shot of U.S. Debt Clock as of 15 Feb 2019.

I know it’s a bit unsettling for Republicans, but regarding National Debt, truth matters.

Trump is out of control and spending like a drunk sailor, but that’s obvious now, so let’s focus on the last 5 Presidents. Look at the overall % and per year % increases. Both Democrat Presidents are better than the best Republican President. No matter how you slice it, Democrats are ALWAYS better fiscally than Republicans. That’s been true for 60 years!


  • Start: $965 billion
  • End: $2.74 trillion (184% increase, 13.9%/year)

Note: Reagan nearly tripled our National Debt!

Bush Sr:

  • Start=$2.74 Trillion
  • End=$4.23 Trillion (54% increase, 11.5%/year)

Note: Bush Sr nearly doubled our National Debt in only 4 years!


  • Start=$4.23 Trillion
  • End=$5.77 Trillion (36% increase, 4.0%/year)

Note: Clinton’s numbers are historically GREAT!

Bush Jr:

  • Start=$5.77 Trillion
  • End=$11.1 Trillion (93% increase, 8.5%/year)

Note: Bush Jr nearly doubled our National Debt, cuz that’s what Republicans do!


  • Start: $11.1 trillion
  • End: $19.85 trillion (78% increase, 7.5%/year)


  • Start: $19.85 trillion
  • As of Feb 11, 2019: $22 trillion (10% increase in JUST 13 MONTHS!, 10%/year so far)
    • …and, our yearly deficit just topped $1 trillion as of Sep 2019 for the first time since the Republican’s crashed the economy in 2008!


As of January 19, 2023, we hit the debt ceiling of $31.4 Trillion of which 25% was generated by Trump’s administration.

You can easily see that Democrats Clinton and Obama grew our National Debt by 4%/year and 7.5%/year FAR LOWER THAN THE REPUBLICANS! Reagan grew our National debt at 13.9%/year, Bush Sr at 11.5%/yr, and Bush Jr at 8.5%/yr. So far, Trump is growing our National Debt by 10%/year. In April 2016, Trump declared that he could get rid of our National Debt over 8 years.

April 2016:

TRUMP: We’ve got to get rid of the $19 trillion in debt.
WOODWARD: How long would that take?
TRUMP: I think I could do it fairly quickly, because of the fact the numbers …
WOODWARD: What’s fairly quickly?
TRUMP: Well, I would say over a period of eight years.

Analysis of Yearly Deficits

The national debt is how much we owe in total up to this point. The yearly deficit is how much we overspent this year. Below is a graph from the MaddowBlog, a blog of The Rachel Maddow Show.

My favorite quote from the MaddowBlog post:

In June 2018, Larry Kudlow, the director of the Trump White House’s National Economic Council, expressed his delight with the nation’s fiscal landscape. Federal revenues, he insisted, are “rolling in,” while the budget deficit “is coming down.”

Notice blue Clinton years actually went positive!! Also, notice the financial effect of the Republicans crashing our economy in 2008 was added to Obama’s deficit in 2009 which went on his overall National Debt total. Finally, notice Obama took control of the deficit in his years, then Trump came along. Republicans say they are fiscally responsible but NO MATTER how you look at it, Democrats are better on the economy now for six decades.

Causes of the National Deficit

The following graph from Bush Deficits Blamed on Obama: Deficit & GDP Data. It explores reasons behind our high deficits which is mostly caused by Republican tax policy and foreign wars.

Causes of fiscal deficit.: The chart assumes national policy as of a year ago [2011} would be renewed. Thus, they don�t reflect expected peace dividends from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, or revised economic growth projections, and it assumes the Bush tax cuts will be renewed in their entirety � something President Obama has vowed will not happen, after he accepted a two-year extension of all the rates late 2010. But they broadly demonstrate that existing debt and projected deficits aren�t largely a consequence of Obama initiatives.

Historical Context

In the same article, the following graph maps deficits to various historical events. Correlation is not causation so each would need to be explored and justified so consider the following a summary. The GDP data is from the Bureau of Economic Analysis site.

Deficit to GDP in percent showing major events affecting the economy. Deficits/GDP rose drastically under Bush to almost twice even Reagan levels and have declined under Obama

Even Republicans Admit Republicans are Bad for the Economy

From time to time, the truth slips out. Republican voters can’t hear it, but even Republicans admit their fake talking points are fake and they are the ones that are actually bad for the economy.
“Nobody is a fiscal conservative anymore. All this talk about concern for the deficit and the budget has been bogus for as long as it’s been around.” –Rush Limbaugh, 2019
Rush Limbaugh continued on the same show:
“How many years have people tried to scare everybody about the deficit? The years, how many decades of politicians tried to scare us about deficit the national debt, the deficit, any number of things. And yet, here we’re still here and the great jaws of the deficit have not bitten off our heads and chewed them up and spit them out.” –Rush Limbaugh, 2019
Here is a quote from Trump’s one-time failed pick to serve on the Federal Reserve Board:
“The Republicans are spending like drunken sailors. I hate it.” —Stephen Moore, 29 Jul 2019
“In many cases, I probably identify more as Democrat. It just seems that the economy does better under the Democrats than the Republicans. …we’ve had some pretty bad disaster under the Republicans.” –Donald Trump, 2004
“The numbers are astonishing. Congress is now spending money like a drunken sailor and I’ve never known a sailor, drunk or sober, with the imagination that this Congress has.” –John McCain, 2003
“Deficits don’t matter.” — Dick Cheney, 2002
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