United States National Debt
(1938 to Present)
An Analysis of the Presidents
Who Are Responsible for the Borrowing
By Steve McGourty
6 May 2007, Third Revision
June 2006, Second Revision
April 2005, First Revision
July 2003, Original
The chart below, Figure 1, shows the United States national debt (per Microsoft’s Encarta Encyclopedia and US Government data) with the various Presidents’ terms marked by vertical lines. Under President Clinton the growth in debt ceased, but note the radical change in direction since George W. Bush entered office.
There is no question and a lot of mathematical proof that the steepest upward rises in debt since the end of World War II, started with President Reagan and continued with other so called Neo-Conservatives. (See red in Figure 1 below. For larger views of any graph in this paper just put your mouse pointer over the graph and click on it).
For those who would prefer to see this debt data presented on a log scale click this link. The log scale certainly shows the WWII debt in a different perspective, and tends to flatten the more recent debt numbers. Changing the scale does not mask an obvious slant towards increased debt during Neo-Con administrations.
While the data prior to 1946 is included for historical reference, most of this paper will concern itself with the years since World War II — the last time this nation was in an all out war. The undeclared wars since 1946 have never required the mobilization of the entire population and thus would skew the modern data. Most of one lifetime is a wide enough sweep of time to cover.
For the mathematically inclined, if you take the first derivative of the data presented to find the slope of each President’s debt increase, you will find that the Republican slopes are consistently more positive than the Democratic slopes. For everyone else, this just means that unbiased mathematical proof exists to support the claim that since 1945, Republican presidents have borrowed more than Democratic presidents regardless of the inflation rate.
“I place economy among the first and most important republican virtues, and public debt as the greatest of the dangers to be feared. To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt.”
– Thomas Jefferson, third US president, architect and author (1743-1826)