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The United States National Debt, From Washington to Obama

US Politics & Gov't  (tags: americans, candidates, congress, constitution, corruption, democrats, dishonesty, elections, ethics, Govtfearmongering, healthcare, housing, lies, media, obama, politics, propaganda, republicans, romney, socialsecurity )

- 2039 days ago -
Worried about the national debt? Thinking that a vote for Romney will change all of that? National debt is an institutional and integral part of our government since it's inception. No one president can or will change that.

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Sue Matheson (79)
Thursday October 25, 2012, 7:49 am

Kit B (276)
Thursday October 25, 2012, 7:59 am

A summation:

National Debt on January 1, 1791 and the sum was $75,463,476.52 (some exact accounting here – right down to the pennies.) The population of the U.S. was 3,929,214, giving a per capita rate of debt of $19.205 (hist) – a staggering debt load for the young nation.

1803 – Oct 1803 - In his message to Congress in October, 1803, President Jefferson announced that the Louisiana Purchase would add nearly $13,000,000 to the national debt, most of which would be payable after fifteen years; before which time the existing national debt would be retired. Yet so diligent was the nation in paying debts, this massive increase only upped the total public debt to $80,727,120.88.

1812-1814 – The war of 1812-1814 required further expenditures, and yet under President James Madison, the national debt increased only to $99,833,00.15. This President was renowned for his parsimony, and distrust of bankers. In spite of his frugality, when he left office in 1817 the debt had reached $123,491,905.16, to be settled by a population of 9,638,453 or a per capita burden of $12,812.41.

President Andrew Jackson (1829-1837) entered the White House, the national debt, which had reached $124 million following the War of 1812, had already been reduced to $48 million. To get it to zero he was perfectly willing to forego anything not “direly necessary.” Jan. 1, 1835, with a Treasury balance of $440,000. Government revenues that year would be twice expenses. It didn't last long, to be sure. The great prosperity of the early 1830s broke in the summer of 1836 when a bubble in land speculation, fueled by easy credit, abruptly ended. The end of Jackson’s presidency ushered in a recession (or contraction as it was known then) that lasted six years. One Wall Street type of the time said, “The fortunes we made so much about in the days of speculation, have melted like the snow before the sun.” Federal revenues fell by half and the national debt was back to stay –- forever.

Van Buren administration, who now incorporated a national debt as policy. This stood (1842) at $13,594,480.73, to be serviced by a population of 17,063,353 or a per person burden of $.79. And for this debt, the journalists and pundits of the day crucified the man. (One wonders what they’d think of the mess we’re in today.) Of course, the previous year 1841, the debt had stood at $5,250,875.54, so perhaps they did object to 200+% increase in one year.

Over the next decade, a time of rapid expansion and growth into the west, the war for Texas, the building of great railroads, the national debt declined, in spite of this spending. By 1850 it was $63,452,773.55, and the population 23,191,876.

In 1860, the national debt was $64,842,287.88 in a country of 31,443,321 inhabitants -- a fiscally healthy, nation. However, that was about to change – irrevocably. Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as President in 1861, and the southern states organized into the Confederacy. The national debt at July 31, 1861 had jumped to $90,580,873.72. On the same date in 1863, the year of Lincoln’s Emancipation proclamation, the public was now liable for $1,119,772,138.63 and the Civil War, (or War Between the States as some say it should be called) is eating money faster than it can be found.

By the end of the war in 1865, the national debt was now $2,680,647,809.74 (July 31, 1866) and Lincoln was assassinated.

Andrew Johnson became the seventeenth president (1865-1869) and added another $7,200,000 to the debt when he authorized the purchase of Alaska in 1867.The program of "Reconstruction" (more like destruction according to southerners I've spoken with) also chewed away government funds. When he left office in 1869, the debt sat at $2,588,452,213.94.

For the next fifteen years, while the nation concentrated on expansion and organization, the debt remained reasonably static, and the new century dawned on a nation of 76,212,168 persons with public obligations of $1,617,372,419.53 or a per capita debt of $21.22. (1900).

WWI in 1914 (although America did not enter the conflict until 1917, and stayed to the end of the conflict in 1918.) However, American industry geared up to supply those forces actively involved in the war.

WWI -This is reflect in the sudden jumps in the debt from $ 3,609,244,262.16 in 1916 to $14,592,161,414.00 in 1918 and $27,390,113,120 in 1919. The population in 1920 was 106,021,537 ( ratio of $26 per person).

A time of affluence followed the war, and great wealth accumulated to the upper classes, fortunes made in speculation, a gambling philosophy which drove stocks upwards with little concrete basis -- until the stock market collapse of 1929. The national debt sat at $16,931,088,484.10.

**The Volstead Act, ushering in Prohibition, resulted in speakeasies, bath-tub gin, an illicit trade in alcohol creating new millionaires on both sides of the border with Canada, gangsters and a reduction in government revenues with the loss of taxes on alcoholic beverages, and an increase in expenses - Prohibition is expensive.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office in 1933, just four short years after the crash of ‘29, and the nation was already deep into the depression. His initial response and attempted stimulus involved his public works programs such as hydro dams (named after his predecessor, Hoover)

“Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt”--Herbert Hoover, President, 1929-1933

1935 saw the implementation of Social Security and the burgeoning of the government offices and government workers (an almost 200% increase) and the public debt climbed slowly upward, from $16,185,309,831.43 in 1930 to $40,439,532,411.11 in 1939. FDR went into office with a national debt for 1933 of $22,538,672,560 and in 1941 at the beginning of his second term, the debt rose to $42,967,531,037. The debt of 1941 $42,967,531,037.00 grew to a massive $258,682,187,409.00 by the war’s end in 1945 (per capita rate of $1,819.59 for the 142,164,569 Americans).

President Truman took office in 1945 with a national debt of $258,682,187,409.93 and left office following his second term in 1952 leaving a debt of $259,105,178,785.43.

In 1953, Dwight D. Eisenhower was sworn in as President. His first term began with a national debt of $275,168,120,129.39 and his second term ended in 1960 at $290,216,815,241.68, an increase of $15,048,695,112.00 or .05%, the rate considered “acceptable” for inflation. For each of the 189,323,031 residents of the country, this amounted to $1,532 per individual.

President, John F. Kennedy, and his inauguration in 1961 was believed to herald the beginning of a new age for the country, however his short presidency was not without challenges. The Cuban missile crisis of 1962 brought the nation to the brink of war, the civil rights movement meant domestic unrest and the space race all conspired to increase the 1963 national debt to $309,346,845,059 a 7% increase.

Following Kennedy’s assassination L.B. Johnson became president, and the Vietnam War began. Johnson left office in 1969 and the national debt was now $368,225,581,254.41 or $1,726.31 per person.
The Vietnam War cost American taxpayers about $150 billion (historic). Over 2 million men and women served during the war and about 58,000 were killed as a result of the war.

Richard Nixon took office in 1969, and his presidency was besieged with problems from the beginning. The public debt as he resigned in 1974 and left office was $469,898,039,554.70, and Gerald Ford assumed the office.

"A billion here, a billion there, sooner or later it adds up to real money." -- Everett Dirksen (1896-1969) U.S. Congressman and Senator.

President Ford served for two years and oversaw America’s withdrawal from Vietnam, April 30, 1975. We will never know how much this 10 year active conflict actually cost, or its impact on the national debt, but some of this is reflected in the increase of the debt to $653,544,000,000.00, (even the roundness of these figures brings suspicion as to their veracity) an increase of 183,645,960,446 or 40% over two years.

President J Carter inherits this obligation in 1977, and despite his increases in taxation and reductions in government spending, he leaves office in 1980, and a national debt of $930,210,000,000.00 or $3,932.53 for each and every one of the 236,542,199 Americans.

It was 1981 and Ronald Reagan became president, bringing with him a cadre of economic advisors and a new theory called ‘reaganomics’; the cornerstones of which were reduction of taxes, removal of regulations, and non-interference by government. This was supposed to increase investments by the wealthy, which in turn would stimulate jobs and more consumer dollars. He referred to this as “trickle down economics,” that is increase the wealth of the wealthy, and the benefits will eventually reach the working Joe. In 1987, his two terms which started with less than 930 million dollars debt, ended with a national debt of 2.6 trillion dollars in 1988. Or to be exact, $2,602,337,712,041.16, or $10,058.90 per capita for a population of 258,709,873.

George H. Bush became president in 1989 and served one term. In 1991 the savings and loan businesses, de-regulated by Reagan collapsed, taking with it the fortunes of millions of Americans, and adding $150 million to the national debt. He also believed in supply side economics, yet increased some taxes in 1992. He left the 1992 national debt at 4 trillion dollars or $4,064,620,655,521.66. This is now $15,711.11 for every man, woman and child in the country.

Bill Clinton took the oval office in 1993, and immediately returned to a balanced budget policy eschewing the theories of his two predecessors and set about reducing the annual deficit with hopes of reducing this debt. He increased taxes and reduced government spending, and by 1998, tax revenues exceeded expenditures. For three consecutive years, President Clinton was able to pay down the principle of the national debt. However, interest accrued faster than the nation can pay, and when he left office in 2000 the national debt sat at 5.7 trillion dollars, or $5,674,209,886,86 or $19,470.00 per capita.

In 2001, George W. Bush started the first of two terms in office. He returned to supply side policies and cut taxes. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 brought about two wars on two fronts – Iraq and Afghanistan. In the last weeks of his presidency, he approved a $1.4 trillion dollar bail out following the sub-prime lending fiasco. President George W. Bush left office in Jan 2009, and a national debt of $10.7 trillion dollars, or $10,024,724,896,912.49 (September 30, 2008) or $36,333 per capita and he did issue hundreds of billions of dollars in TARP funds before leaving office.

In January of 2009, Barack Obama was inaugurated as President.
In his first eleven months in the office, the national debt has increased to $12,135,510,445,387.63 or $39,466.40 for every American.

But if you're feeling panicky, think back to 1797 and the staggering debt the new nation faced.

Note: All quoted figures on the national debt are from the Treasury Department of the United States.

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Kit B (276)
Thursday October 25, 2012, 8:05 am

Do tell me again about how one president, can end the national debt, increase jobs and reduce taxation? Facts are not about to bend to the will of any one. Debt is fact that can not and will not change, it is as inherently American as the Constitution and Apple Pie. Now let's deal with reality and move forward.

Teresa W (782)
Thursday October 25, 2012, 8:24 am

Jae A (316)
Thursday October 25, 2012, 8:43 am
Amen !!

Great information. Hope it gets to the front page so that more will wake up to the ....facts / reality ....our 'debt'.

Laura H (964)
Thursday October 25, 2012, 8:51 am
Great post! I am going to share it!
Facts DO matter-no matter what the republicans say!

JL A (281)
Thursday October 25, 2012, 7:14 pm
I find it interesting that reagonomics was associated with among the biggest ballooning in the amount of debt--I wonder if the two are inherently related?

Diane O (194)
Friday October 26, 2012, 3:14 am
Kit, it appears you conveniently left out democratic President Jimmy Carter who started the subprime mortgage debacle. He leaned on the banks to "relax" their lending practices so that minorities could own a home in our country whether they could afford it or not. President Bill Clinton enhanced it by taking it a step further with his support of relaxing lending practices. This all landed on George W. Bush's watch with the subprime mortgages that literally brought our country to its knees. John McCain put forth the GSH Reform bill to immediately regulate Fannie and Freddie in late 2005 and in 2006 the all democratic congress voted this bill down thanks to Barney Frank and Dodd who boldly stood before congress and stated that our economy was just fine! You know the rest of the story.

Under Jimmy Carter he brought inflation, a deep recession and mortgage interest rates as high as 22%. His handling of foreign affairs was in shambles. He became a one term president.

Ronald Reagan soon after taking office turned immediately to our small businesses and lifted them up. It energized our country and turned it around. Americans started spending again.

There's always more to the story.....if, in fact, we want it fair and balanced. Depends on if you are satisfied with some of the truth or all of the truth.

jan b (5)
Friday October 26, 2012, 4:46 am
Amidst all the cries of Barack Obama being the most prolific big government spender the nation has ever suffered, Marketwatch is reporting that our president has actually been tighter with a buck than any United States president since Dwight D. Eisenhower. Check out the chart.
I have always tried to increase my income when my expenses went up so I wouldn't have to give up basic essentials or anything for that matter.......and yet some want to make govt' cuts that will hurt and make people suffer cause they don't want the rich-and their corporations to pay taxes ? It's insane.
."I will not reduce the share paid by high-income individuals," Romney said. A few breaths later: "All right? I will not reduce the taxes paid by high-income Americans." -Romney/Ryan and wealthy republicans are all heart---they are only thinking of the rest of us.....Already over 10 years, the total revenue loss from the tax cuts to the weathiest .... comes to $3.9 trillion, according to the US Treasury.

Alexandra Rodda (180)
Friday October 26, 2012, 6:09 am
It's really quite amazing how much mischief President Obama has caused over the centuries!

Diane O (194)
Friday October 26, 2012, 6:12 am
John, it is my opinion that we are where we are because of progressives in both parties sitting in our White House. Progressive mentalities appear to run up the debt without a thought of how the country will pay for it. At the moment, Obama has his enhanced debt facing our children and grandchildren at over $42,000.00 per child. Seems Obama doesn't give a flip about the next generations and the debt they will have to pay down due to the carelessness and incompetency of this administration.

My hope is that Mitt and Paul will get in there....repeal ObamaCare right away and get on to the business of a balanced budget something Obama was never able to do. He tried but his own democrats wouldn't buy it which was basically a slap in Obama's face for not getting it right.

Diane O (194)
Friday October 26, 2012, 6:15 am
Many Americans live above their means and have a debt level that is unsustainable. It always comes down to personal responsibility....what one can afford and not afford and live within your means. I believe that is why we have to many on food stamps. They've lost jobs and no new job is in sight and they never saved for the "rainy day." No jobs. It always comes back to that, doesn't it? This is why Obama will not win re-election. Plus, his likability factor has plummeted. He looks like an angry, desperate failure of a president running scared. I honestly believe his first debate will haunt him the rest of his life. He can't blame that on George W. Bush LOL!

Kit B (276)
Friday October 26, 2012, 7:29 am

Carter? I didn't mention Carter? Let's look at Carter and the unvarnished facts. Talking a republican line of rhetoric doesn't change the actual facts. This country has continued to carry a debt from it's inception. Of course it grows under each president. All governments, even the government of the USSR was a self feeding, self growing machine, it's the nature of government. As the population grows so grows the government. No government ever can or will operate within "it's means", you are confusing governmental economics with personal economics.

No, John it's not the end of any thing, it's only a glimpse of the actual facts of the history of deficits in this country under any president. Whether any one likes it or not some things are just factual. We vote for presidents for personal reasons, social reasons. Logically, we should know that the government will continue to grow, you can rebel, end this governments as we know it, and this will still be true.

As for the social reasoning? I strongly disagree with Romney on each social issue. He does not respect women, he can not bring about 12 million jobs, and his foreign policy (changing as it is) does not provide security for the United States.

First we look at what Carter inherited from Ford and then what actually happened -v- the inflation.

President Ford served for two years and oversaw America’s withdrawal from Vietnam, April 30, 1975. We will never know how much this 10 year active conflict actually cost, or its impact on the national debt, but some of this is reflected in the increase of the debt to $653,544,000,000.00, (even the roundness of these figures brings suspicion as to their veracity) an increase of 183,645,960,446 or 40% over two years.

President J Carter inherits this obligation in 1977, and despite his increases in taxation and reductions in government spending, he leaves office in 1980, and a national debt of $930,210,000,000.00 (whatever happened to the accounting to the penny?) or $3,932.53 for each and every one of the 236,542,199 Americans.

What happened?

During the Carter’s administration the economy was going through some very difficult times. The Federal Reserve Board tightened the money supply and the economy began a recession. Unemployment rate rose to over 10 percent, the highest since World War II.

Oil prices skyrocketed causing high gas prices and in turn resulting in inflation. This may be due in part to the Iranian revolution destabilizing the area. Many will remember the U.S. embassy hostage situation. However this unrest surely highlighted America's dependence on foreign oil. President Carter announced the Carter Doctrine which declared that any interference with US interests in the Persian Gulf would be considered as an attack on US vital interests.

Congress passed a series of laws that removed most of the regulatory shields around aviation, trucking and railroads in an effort to increase competition and lower prices.This coupled with rising fuel prices led to business failures.

Inflation so devastated the economy by the 1980 election that interest rates rose to 20 percent. Ronald Reagan then defeated Carter by a wide margin promoting less government involvement and tax cuts to stimulate the economy.

Kit B (276)
Friday October 26, 2012, 7:31 am

You are welcome to your opinion, Diane but, factually you are incorrect on every point.

paul m (93)
Friday October 26, 2012, 7:42 am

And it will get worse

Kit B (276)
Friday October 26, 2012, 7:58 am

That is true Paul, the debt will grow with each president. Even when our taxes were 91% the debt still grew. A president can only address what is front of him, he can set an agenda. The realities of the real issues will mean that things change from what each hoped to do, to what they can actually do, so promises from the campaign trail, though perhaps well intentioned, become lost in the real issues set before him, or maybe some day...set before Her.

Kit B (276)
Friday October 26, 2012, 10:34 am

Enjoy believing as you wish. The facts are in evidence.

Diane O (194)
Friday October 26, 2012, 12:35 pm
Some of the facts are in evidence. Some are not. I believe it is important for you to understand that you cannot believe everything you read. It is absolutely impossible for everything we read to be factual and the truth. It's not humanly possible.

David C (131)
Friday October 26, 2012, 12:53 pm
the debt is NOT the one person will ever get it to go away.........if Mr. Romney's method of business is making up values such as he did for Staples then it might, but otherwise.........its sad that care2 has so many who aren't willing to admit the truth...(i.e. Diane) even when presented with facts......guess that must be due to too much Faux opinions.....

Kit B (276)
Friday October 26, 2012, 12:55 pm

Oh well then let me be precise, the facts about the national debt from Washington to Obama are clearly in evidence here. The facts about the economy and inflation during the Carter administration are posted here.

Whew, Diane. For someone is not do take it upon yourself to constantly correct others with your personal beliefs as if they were factual. They are factually your beliefs not factual evidence any thing more than that.

David C (131)
Friday October 26, 2012, 12:58 pm
on re-reading I noticed the mention of disdain and distrust in banks (and I suspect stock markets if they had been present) in the youth of our nations......perhaps this is where we have gone wrong.......

Kit B (276)
Friday October 26, 2012, 1:17 pm

By forming a government? Even if we had a collection of nation states, each would operate with a deficit. The problem is understanding what a deficit really is - not the political rhetoric, but the economics that are the basis for all functioning governments. I'm not saying it's an easy project to take on, it is not. All governments have operated with a deficit, do the research independently. As the population grows, so grows the debt.

Aletta Kraan (146)
Friday October 26, 2012, 5:37 pm
Noted , scary !!!

Diane O (194)
Tuesday October 30, 2012, 4:40 am
Kit, you are wrong. I don't correct others. I am posting my opinions. I believe in everyone's freedom of speech. I happen to disagree with the narrow minded liberal beliefs. There's always more to the story that the liberals conveniently leave out.

Me, bossy? Hardly. I just have a very different view of the economy than what is portrayed here on a liberal site.

What is scary about Obama is that if re-elected, which looks highly doubtful at this point, he wants yet another stimulus which tells me he has no earthly idea on how to address the fiscal issues we face. If Obama had been a Governor or an Economics major he would've produced a budget that his own democrats would've passed.

Obama fails miserably on fiscal responsibility and this is one of the reasons he needs to be a one term president.

Diane O (194)
Tuesday October 30, 2012, 4:42 am
Kit, I base my opinions on facts well researched facts. You are immersed in left wing research which can be highly selective in content. You can say the same about me. So, please, don't say you are right and I am wrong. Our politics are very different. This is why we have a two party system.

Kit B (276)
Tuesday October 30, 2012, 7:23 am

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