Republican, Democrats, National Debt, and Fiscal Responsibility

I was born in Texas and raised in Oklahoma in a very conservative, Republican household. I was raised believing that Republicans are for small government and low taxes. I was raised to believe that only the Republicans shared my Christian values and they had the safety of our country well in hand. Democrats, by contrast, wanted the government to fix everything, wanted to raise everyone’s taxes, were pro-abortion, and would do nothing to protect our country.

As I got older, I began to question whether the Republican Party has lived up to what it professes. I believe in all the things they profess: I believe in having strong national security, I believe in the sanctity of life, I believe in fiscal responsibility. But what I’ve found in my research is that the Republicans don’t put these values into practice.

I’m writing articles, based on the research I’ve done, that dispel the myths of Republicans. This article focuses on the economic myths: Republicans are fiscally responsible, Republicans believe in less government spending, and Republicans are better for the economy. My references appear at the end of the article.

First, some definitions. Political economists often talk about the national debt and the federal deficit. These two terms mean different things. The national debt refers to the accumulation of all the money the US government has borrowed over all the years that we’re still paying back. By contrast, the federal deficit refers to how much money the US government is spending over and above its budget in a single year. So the deficit reverts to zero at the beginning of each fiscal year whereas the national debt does not.

Now let’s take a look at the facts. We’ll start with national debt and raw numbers. In 2000, when Bill Clinton left office, the national debt was $5.7 trillion. Today, after seven years of George W. Bush, it is $9.6 trillion. Bush has almost doubled our national debt in eight short years.

But let’s go further back and take a look at the average increases in national debt by president. It is most useful to look at the national debt as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP). GDP is the total market value of all final goods and services produced within the country in a given period of time (usually a calendar year). Since 1945, there have been seven presidential terms held by Democrats and nine held by Republicans. During every term held by a Democratic president since this time, that president has reduced the national debt as a percentage of GDP. The Roosevelt/Truman administration made the greatest dent with a 24.3% reduction. By contrast, only three terms held by a Republican president since 1945 showed a reduction in the national debt as a percentage of GDP. Further, Eisenhower made the most significant reduction for Republicans at a 10.8% decline between 1953 and 1957. This is less than half the decline made by the Democrats Roosevelt/Truman. Even further, every single Republican president since 1973 (beginning with Nixon/Ford) has increased the national debt as a percentage of GDP. Let’s summarize: Since 1946, Democratic presidents increased the national debt an average of only 3.2% per year. The Republican presidents increased the national debt by an average of 9.7% per year. Republican presidents out-borrowed and out-spent Democratic presidents by a three-to-one ratio. Putting that in very real terms, for every dollar a Democratic president has raised the national debt in the past 59 years, Republican presidents have raised the debt by $2.99.

Looking further at federal spending, we find that between 1978 and 2005, Democrats increased federal spending by 9.9% while Republicans increased federal spending by 12.1%. Further, in the same period, Democrats increased the national debt by 4.2% whereas the Republicans increased it by 36.4%. It is true that the Republicans held 4 terms during this time while Democrats only held 3. However, looking at each president since 1978, we see that Reagan increased the national debt by a whopping 89.2% during his two terms. You read that right, Reagan nearly doubled the national debt in 8 years.

Now, you might say, “Well, but productivity increased more during that spending.” Using GDP as a measure of productivity (which is standard procedure), you’d be dead wrong. During the years 1978 – 2005, the Democrats increased the GDP by 12.6% while the Republicans only increased it by 10.7%. The president responsible for the largest increase in GDP, or the productivity of our country, during this time was Bill Clinton, a Democrat, who increased the GDP by 28.4% during his eight years in office.

Some people argue that GDP is an imperfect measure of productivity. So let’s look at job creation. Of all the presidents since 1933, Bill Clinton has created by far the most jobs. During his tenure, he created 22.7 million jobs, a 4.9% increase. The worst president in terms of job creation is George W. Bush. During his first term, he created only 100,000 jobs, a 0.002% increase. On average, between 1933 and the present day, Republican have increased jobs by 0.21% while Democrats have increased jobs by 3.24%.

(A note about Reagan: All of the economic growth experienced during Reagan’s presidency was subsidized by the federal debt. Our federal debt almost doubled during his presidency. Talk about a big spender! He mortgaged our future, and it is abundantly clear by the widening gap between rich and poor that the policies he enacted, Reaganomics, if you will, are not sustainable.)

We can also get an idea of how “big” government is by looking at the national debt as a percentage of GDP (or, to put it another way, how much the government is spending relative to everyone else). Republicans advocate for small government. They portray the Democrats as people who want big government. Looking at the facts, we see that government spending is biggest when a Republican president is in office. Republicans historically have bigger governments than Democrats. Five out of the eight presidential terms held by Republicans since 1945 have seen an increase in government spending as a percentage of GDP, an increase in the size of the government. Zero of the seven presidential terms held by Democrats since that time have seen an increase in the size of the government. In fact, every single Democratic president since 1945 has reduced the size of the government by reducing the amount of national debt as a percentage of GDP.

Looking at Clinton more closely, we see that he presided over the largest economic expansion on record, the fastest income growth most workers had experienced in a generation, and the disappearance of the federal budget deficit. When he came into office in 1993, the federal budget deficit was $290 billion and was projected to be $455 billion by 2000. Clinton made it his number one goal to reduce the national debt. He did so by raising taxes on the wealthy and cutting taxes for the poor. By the end of his presidency, he had eliminated the federal deficit. In 1999, he recorded a federal budget surplus of $122.7 billion. In 2000, he topped his own record with a federal budget surplus of $230 billion. He also made huge gains in the national debt. In May 2000, he made a $216 billion payment on the federal debt, the largest debt paydown in American history. The federal government’s long-term debt in 2000 was $2.4 trillion lower than it was projected to be when Clinton took office in 1992. In September 2000, he explained that the $5.7 trillion national debt had been reduced by $360 billion in the previous three years. He reduced it by $223 billion in 2000 alone. At the 2000 rate of debt paydown, the US was expected to have paid off its entire debt by 2010.

Now, near the end of George W. Bush’s presidency, our national debt is $9.6 trillion. We owe $5 trillion of that to China, a communist country we don’t like and who doesn’t like us. We have made absolutely zero payments on our national debt since Bush took office. Instead, Bush has nearly doubled our national debt, and he keeps spending. The economy is weaker, the dollar is weaker, and we’re further in debt than we ever have been before. We continue to pay for the war and reconstruction in Iraq despite the fact that the Iraq government has a $79 billion surplus earning interest in banks in New York. This is the epitome of fiscal irresponsibility.

Looking to the future, the spending will continue if John McCain is elected. A quick skim through his website or perusal of the Tax Policy Center’s analysis of both candidates’ policies reveals that McCain’s economic policies are merely continuations of George W. Bush’s policies. A continuation of these policies will utterly ruin our economy. Bush has hurt us exponentially in just eight years. We cannot afford even one more year of his policies, let alone four more.

The bottom line: Republicans are fiscally irresponsible. They spend more and increase the debt more than Democrats. Economies under Republican presidents are, in general, weaker than economies under Democratic presidents. The Bush administration has squandered the gains made by the Clinton administration, and John McCain promises to keep squandering our money.


“Clinton announces record payment on national debt”

“President Clinton announces another record budget surplus”

“An Analysis of the National Debt (1938 to Present): An Analysis of the Presidents who are Responsible for the Borrowing”

“Jobs created during US presidential terms – Wikipedia “

“National Debt by US Presidential Terms – Wikipedia”

“Is History Siding with Obama’s Economic Plan?” – NY Times 8/30/2008


28 Responses

    • I too am a former Republican because of what you have written here. I did my own research and you, my friend, have summarized the situation very nicely. I have posted this to my Facebook, etc and will be spreading it around. Thanks for writing it.

  1. […] campaigning to be president. But then, I was reassured by some republican friends, relatives, and “liberal media” that my concerns about Palin’s lack of foreign relations experience is unfounded. Why? […]

  2. […] Republican, Democrats, National Debt and Fiscal Responsibility […]

  3. Nice analysis …

    Here is more goodness for you:

    You see that turquoise line, that’s the backbone of the American economy … you see the Presidents’ faces .. yep; 66% of them have been Republicans.

    I applaud your insight and analysis.

  4. Thanks, Megan, for a useful, concise summary of info I’ve been researching this evening. I’ll refer my network to your blog.

  5. Ah ha, found it. Good analysis, but I couldn’t quite work out what was going on with the statement:
    “During the years 1978 – 2005, the Democrats increased the GDP by 12.6% while the Republicans only increased it by 10.7%.”

    That should be 12.6% and 10.7% per respective term on average.

  6. This website chart clearly illustrates where we would be
    headed with another 4 years of Republicans in Washington, D.C.

  7. Either way banker terrorists are in charge. See how Ron Paul was ignored and put down by the likes of media, etc. That is because he is the only candidate that was wise to the bankers efforts to steal a nation, Sorta like Andrew Jackson was back in 1835. He paid off the national debt and warned us about ever getting in debt again. Now look where we are! Banker familise from Europe love it. We pay them about $1.2 Billion a day interest. Who are the real terrorists?

  8. […] Republican presidents are, in general, weaker than economies under Democratic presidents." Republican, Democrats, National Debt, and Fiscal Responsibility Bunk in the West National debt by U.S. presidential terms – Wikipedia, the free […]

  9. I have tried to point out these Reagan/Repub facts on many message boards for years and years and get nothing but grief,but I will not stop relaying the truth!I recently found your article and the detailed analysis ,dates ,figures and cogent arguments are just great and will help immensely!Thanks so much for your hard work!
    *one other thing I point out that really gets the “Saint Ronny” crowd the maddest is the fact that he did raise taxes!Here is an article from the National Review (no less)that gives the details!

  10. thank you so much for the info i was looking for in reference to the clinton surplus. i always hear liberals touting that HUGE sum of money without taking into a ccount the national debt. they never even consider the future obligations of the goverment, through entitlement programs that will further escalate the problem in the very near future. mind you, these entitlements were implimented by democrats, i.e. social security, medicare, medicaid and welfare for the generational syphons. these figures are the equivalent of saying, i am 500 thousand in debt but have a whopping 230 dollars in the bank, but i have to find a way to put my kids through college. get the picture. smoke and mirrors from both parties. but by gosh, look at the projected national debt now. i will follow no man down any path, i will choose my own. SERFS UP DEWD!

  11. Presidents are not the responsible spending party, rather monies are appropriated and spend by congress. Please do your research to see who was the majority in both houses and compare those conditions in relation to the figures for the dept.

    • I hate to be the one to inform you of this, the president is the cheerleader of the country.He puts his vision out there and tries to get the country behind that vision. By the way most Democratic presidents have to bring along bkue dog democrates. You know conservative democrates or those with republican tendencies. Republican administrations have the blue dogs solidly behind them on fiscal ideas. Hence Republican administrations have free reign with budgetary and regulatory issues regarding such financial matters. The Bush years were by far the worst administration for rampent irresponsability

    • One word will dispel your spin: VETO

  12. The flaw is believing that either party has anything to do with GDP in terms of growth. The entire system is manipulated by the Federal Reserve a non-governmental agency. The Government doesn’t produce anything – it only takes. People get so caught up in the blame game one side against the other. The true policy is always set by whomever controls the money supply. Inflation is a symptom of an expanding money supply. All the borrowing regardless of party only serves to create additional debt which is by definition an expanding money supply. For this reason I always register Independent so I can vote for whomever I believe is going to have the interests of the people at heart, not by party.

  13. Republicans don’t want to be confronted with FACTS !!!

    As Truman said about Nixon: “He speaks out of both sides of his mouth, TELLING LIES OUT OF BOTH SIDES !!!”

    Republicans all follow Nixon’s example !!!

  14. true… you know what they say…The hard trade is the right trade: If it is easy to sell, dont; and if it is easy to buy, dont

  15. People need to see this.

  16. Excellent commentary on the fed deficit vs the national debt and which Party has contributed the most to each.

  17. You really use Wikipedia as a reference to your comments. everyone knows that anyone can post whatever on that site. it does not contain factual truthful statements.

  18. The “gains that Clinton” made were the result of the housing boom. Clinton called it the National Hiomeownership Strategy, and while the economy boomed under him, it was his same housing policy that caused the housing bubble. His plan was to grow the middle class by allowing anyone to own a home. His revamping of Community Reinvestment Act forced banks to lower lending standards. He put cronies into Fannie & Freddie, who ended up bankrupting them.
    Read “Reckless Endangerment”.

  19. Thank you for this information. I will share with everyone I know.

  20. Reblogged this on debs31's Blog.

  21. Is there a way to Post this on OnePot Witchery’s FaceBook page. I would very much like to share this!

  22. I find some of these explanations to be very interesting. For then but not now. Take your same information using the same statistical formula’s and then look at our current situation. GDP is at an all time low, deficit has grown at a larger and faster pace than GDP. The national debt is now almost double of that when Bush left office. Comparisons are nice but do not always hold true. Under Obama, we have increased our national debt by no less than 6 trillion dollars, which is 1 trillion dollars more than Bush did in 8 years. The amazing thing is that Obama has managed to do it in less than four years as the national debt topped the $16+ trillion mark in September. At the current pace and more government the National Debt will increase to over $20 Trillion by 2016, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Here is another thing to consider, during the Bush II years, we were engaged in two wars therefore drawing more from our resources than under Clinton or Obama. Yet Obama, in half that time has increased this debt by almost double of what it was when Bush was in office.

    Obama can take, or try to anyway, for getting us out of Iraq. But this is a falsity that he likes to parade at every turn. Truth of the matter is, Bush signed an agreement with the newly established Iraqi government in 2008 in which guaranteed the removal of all US forces out of Iraq by the end of 2011. Obama simply followed through with that agreement, thus he did not get us out of Iraq. Therefore, following these guidelines Obama has only been responsible for one war and that is Afghanistan. Again here he tries to mislead and detour the truth. He has reduced the number of troops in the region, yet the spending has increased. He has tried to say that he has reduced defense spending by killing the wars and used that money to pay for for toward the deficit, which he has not as the current numbers indicate. Unemployment is now higher than when he first took office (7.8 then, now 7.9 at the latest government numbers) and will or is continuing to see greater numbers of unemployment each month.

    You can say what you want about this being all Bush’s fault, but check your facts again. The “Great Recession” ended or peaked in 2008, under Bush. The recovery started, according to the CBO and other economist, in early fall of 2009. So therefore we should have seen a dramatic turnaround in our unemployment facts as well as a turn around in our economy. Yet we have not. It has been stifled by the current spending rate of our government. Numbers are nice to look at but they only work, as most pollsters found out during this last election, if they are used for the time frame indicated not the future. I thank you for your research, as it was done up to 2008 only, but you might want to do a follow up on your information now and present a little bit of a different picture under the current administrations lack of financial stability.


      LBGTU: All Citizens should have the same rights as All Other Citizens. Period. No Discussion needed. So when you tell us that you are Christian and the Bible says it’s an abomination, I must counter with, Why are you reading Leviticus? The Old Testament is for the Jews and the Gospels are for the Christians. As well, Leviticus Hates Everyone! That’s Why Almighty God in his infinite wisdom sent Jesus, and Jesus said “Love thy neighbor”. So either A. Go be a Jew or B. Ask WWJD? or C. quit calling yourself a Christian and start calling yourself a Levitican!

      RAPE/ABORTION: I have a 12 year old daughter and if she was raped you can best believe that I would castrate the devil himself and spread his entrails across the earth, because frankly I think shooting him would show too much mercy on my part. So if she got pregnant from said rape, do you think for a second I would give any mercy to his seed? So quit calling it God’s Gift and start calling it what it is, The Devil’s Spawn. Now are you going to let the devil spawn in your daughter? Because I am sure as hell not letting him spawn in mine!

      WAR/VETERANS: We spent over 800 billion in the last war and we liberals do indeed have some issues with that and they are as follows: 1. We ourselves, our sons, our daughters, our cousins, our blood paid for that war. So the money better not be sitting in no cayman island account of no fat ass bureaucrat! 2. How do you spend that much and not be willing to spend 1 billion on the Jobs for Veterans bill? (because that there ticked us off more than all other things combined) 3. We were either there or heard the stories so why did they lack armor and why did some of the weapons not work and why did they have to fight for medical car and supplies? 800 billion should have been more than enough to keep our troops properly supplied, so where is our money? SO HERE IS OUR PROPOSAL: (this is called a point of negotiation) We as liberals will support any and all wars and war spending IF 25% of each war budget goes directly to taking care of our fighting men and woman (armor, working guns, food, water, sanitation, shelter and medical supplies) AND 25% goes to support every Veteran when they come back (medical, dental, vision, psychiatric health care, job training, college tuition, and low cost housing – especially for the disabled).!

      BIRTH CONTROL/WAL-MART: 90% of all wally world employees don’t receive medical. Now this isn’t some small business that can’t afford it, this is a HUGE corporation making billions. So every time you spend a dollar at walmart, you are taking money out of your taxes to pay for the medical bills that walmart wont. All those working at Walmart are at least 18 so let’s not get into their individual sex lives (I mean ewwww) So since it’s YOUR tax money paying the bills then these are YOUR options: Option 1: you can pay 8 dollars a months for birth control so that they don’t have 1000 babies or Option 2: You can pay $500 for an abortion for the baby they weren’t expecting and can’t care for PLUS 8 dollars a month, because once someone has an abortion they are immediately put on birth control (YES, I checked) or Option 3: $25,000 Prenatal, Delivery and Newborn care plus $500 dollars a month in food stamps to support said baby – your money, how will you spend it wisely?

      FOOD STAMPS/WAL-MART: Again 90% of wally world employees (unless they are married and their partner works a better job or they live with mom and dad) are eligible for food stamps. So, when you walk in, there is the working poor everyone is talking about! So this is your choice A. You keep shopping at wallmart knowing that for every dollar you save you are spending 10 dollars in taxes or B. you continue to shop at walmart and shut up about supporting the working poor, because every dollar you spend there means you are willing to support their employees and every company like them.

      GUN CONTROL: I don’t know how to answer this because I literally don’t know where you are coming from, as I have over 900 liberal friends on facebook, and I post all manner of gun and survival things and have only had ONE comment in an entire year and that was “I support your rights to own a gun wholeheartedly, I do not own one myself because I have a 2 year old and am afraid they will get into it”. So yes perhaps if you are running into people who don’t understand the difference between guns, then please just educate them politely, and explain that you want to work on a common goal. Because all liberals support the Constitution wholeheartedly and would never go against any amendment, least the amendment they most like, would be taken away. (In my case that would be 1 and 2)

      COMMON GOAL/HOMELAND SECURITY/FEMA; We re just as ticked off and want homeland security ended as much as you do. They keep following us around and taking down our names every time we do anything. We are not comfortable with them buying 40 million hollow point bullets, 100,000 4 man caskets or the new FEMA camps anymore than you are and we sure as heck ain’t down with the 10 Council Governors! So we would like you and us to work together toward a few common goals. One being the end to Homeland security and the 10 governors and two being alot more regulation for FEMA!

      ASHLEY JUDD: As long as we are on to common goals we would like you to know that we absolutely support the two party system of checks and balances. This keeps us from being too liberal or too conservative and makes our Government work for all of us. Because when we go to the polls we are hiring a person to do a job and if they are not doing the job we want them to do, to our specifications and needs, then we should be firing them. So we would like everyone to actually look at what their elected officials are doing in the next two years by visiting often and finding out how they voted, if they voted or if they obstructed the vote. Because our Government should be all of us working together. And 2 more things, all this talk about our President is not patriotic. Regardless of who our Commander in Chief is, the right thing to do is give them respect, we would have done it for you, please as your family and your friends, do it for us. Secondly, ASHLEY JUDD is running for election in 2014. We really believe this is a candidate we can all come together on, so we would surely appreciate it, if you would support her as well.

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