Skip to comments.National Debt Chart
Posted on 09/08/2011 12:30:50 PM PDT by CodeToad
People often ask if there is a chart that shows the national debt for each year and one that shows which political party was President and held the Senate and House for each year. The following chart shows that information. I gathered the data and tried to arrange and format it so as to show without bias the debt spending throughout the life of our country since 1791. I have not added any commentary as to what the data shows, leaving that for you to decide.
I created the data in Microsoft Excel 2010 and then exported the data into images for web page display and individual file formats for downloading of the actual data. The images are hosted on ImageShack.com and the files on Google Docs. So, if the images are not good enough feel free to download the actual Excel spreadsheet or one of the other file formats, such as PDF, from the links below.
I hope this answers the question of who spends the most.
National Debt 1791-2011:
National Debt 1791-2011 by Party:
This chart shows the spending by who controls the President, Senate, and House. This is the primary chart people ask for.
National Debt 1791-2011 by President, Senate, House:
The following documents are hosted on Google Docs. Clicking a link will take you to Google Docs where you may view the file or select to download it. These files were created by me, codetoad, and are provided for public use without copyright restrictions of any kind. Feel free to copy, modify, and even republish them freely.
National Debt Chart in Microsoft Excel 2010 format (also compatible with Excel 2007) : National Debt Excel 2010 (NationalDebt.xlsx)
National Debt Chart in Microsoft Excel 2003 or prior format: National Debt Excel 2003(NationalDebt.xls)
National Debt Chart as a PDF: National Debt PDF(NationalDebt.pdf)
National Debt Chart as a web page that you can view or save as a file: National Debt Web Page (NationalDebt.mht)
BTTT. Great work, thanks.
Thought this might be of interest to you.
Thanks. It took a number of hours but it was worth it.
I’m still trying to figure out what everything is.
Legends help, fyi.
Green = Debt went down, also shown by values in ().
Red = Debt went up.
Thank you very much!
Very cool. What is interesting is that our least spending has been with a Democrat President and a Republican controlled Senate and House.
Know of any good ping lists that might be interested?
The problem, however, is that a sea of numbers glazes over the eyes.
A visual solution is a chart in the style of Minard's famous map of Napoleon's march to Moscow. The width of the line denotes the number of troops still alive in Napoleon's Grand Army. The shocking information is conveyed at a glance. (Below)
In the case of a debt chart, for historical accuracy, debt numbers should be in inflation-adjusted, per capita debt dollars.
Ah cain’t figyer it owt. Is there an abridged version for dummies?
That’s an awesome “tableau graphique,” especially for the era!
Per capita and inflation adjusted numbers don’t tell the whole and accurate story. The percentages, however, do. People really don’t care what the actual numbers are, just how much the changes have been. Besides, no one has accurate inflationary figures to adjust dollar figures by. So, if $1 was spent in 1791 what, excatly, would that number be for 2011? No one really knows.
I find it best to leave all numbers as they were originally reported and let the reader determine what the numbers mean to them. One thing our government does is play loose with number using “seasonally adjusted” or “adjusted for inflation” or “per capita” numbers. They are meaningless as they have no concrete basis, so people do not trust them. Real numbers as reported tend to have more meaning.
The left side of the chart shows individual years and the national debt plus the percentage change from the year before.
The President, Senate, and House columns show the debt during the continuous period held by that political party.
The Period column shows the debt for the period of the specific combination of President, Senate, and House party. A Period is a period of time during which the controlling party of the President, Senate and House does not change.
The Event column is simply to show major events during that period of time that might sugggest why spending was higher than normal.
Unfortunately, I do not know the narratives as to why spending increased or decreased. There is little to go on other than news reports that are themselves biased and inaccurate.
I am letting the numbers speak for themselves. We cannot go back in time and try to conclude why a budget was more or less; we can only say that it was. Attempting to rationalize spending is extremely difficult and horribly inaccurate. What political pressures were exerted is unknown, as everything from personal political views to political lobbyists play heavy in all political actions, and those activities are simply unknown.
I respectfully disagree because just going for the shock value of "Look how much the debt has grown since the 1700's" will bring the counter-argument one second later of, "Of course it has grown by a huge percent. The population has grown by a huge percent.".
It costs far less money to run a country of 4 million (the U.S. in 1790) than it costs to run a country of 308 million (the U.S. in 2010).
When a population has tremendous growth over time, even if the per capita debt is kept constant with impeccable financial conservatism, the total debt chart would be a mirror image of the population growth chart:
A “Per Capita” comparison attempts to rationalize debt. There are baseline numbers such as defense. How much defense today in 2011 does it take to defend this nation from known enemies? That number would be the same regardless if we had 100 million or 200 million citizens.
The purpose of the chart is to show the increase each political party has caused during their period of control. Comparing actual dollars from one year to the next is fine enough as few periods exceeded but a few years. The chart also shows percentage increases which helps define the differences.
A full analysis would be needed to determine fault, to include categories of expenditures, political pressures, agreements made, etc, when all people want to know is when a Republican or a Democrat holds the presidency, Senate or House what happens to spending. Does it go up a lot, a little, or down any? What about the relationship between the President and Congress? What about the Senate versus the House? This chart gives meaning to those questions by providing the data for the answers.
Thanks very much. This is eminently bookmarkable.
You find decreasing deficits with a GOP Congress... wars notwithstanding.
I’ll be updating the files and images as people respond with comments and suggestions.
Do you think the Debt in 2009 caused by TARP should be ascribed to Obama, Bush or both?
While spending is authorized perhaps in one year, the year it is spent, I believe, is when it is attributed. So, no, I would leave the numbers as reported as I think the year each President spent the money is when the money is recognized. I could be wrong about that.
I agree. It’s murky.
Bush signed TARP but he didn’t modify it to save GM and Chrysler the way Obama did. I put that spending mostly on Bush but with an asterisk.
Bush signed a continuing resolution lasting until March of ‘09 that did include increases in discretionary spending although Obama signed off on the rest of ‘09 that doubled down on what Bush signed.
I do think the loss of revenue from 2008 to 2009 can be ascribed to Bush as that correlates best with the stock market on December 31st and Obama wasn’t even in office yet.
The stimulus is, of course, all Obama’s doing.
While I have no doubt Bush loves this country, he created this monster for massive spending, and he created the TSA, PATRIOT Act, etc. He over reacted to 9/11 and to the banking issue.
Agree mostly although I will say that no one realizes they are in a bubble when they are in a bubble. We were in a bubble in 1999. The Fed and Bush re-inflated the bubble by 2007. At the time, it looked like a normal economic expansion from 2001. With 20/20 hindsight, we can say it was a bubble.
Of this I am sure, we are now running deficits now that are going to crush our country’s future. Hopefully it will be a slow decline although there is every reason to think it won’t be. We have about two to five years before we become the latest chapter in this book, “This Time is Different” (A 121 page pdf, http://www.nber.org/~wbuiter/cr1.pdf . We don’t have a Germany to pay our bills like Greece does.
The Tech Bubble of 2001 was obvious and known to exist since at least 1996.
The Housing Bubble was obvious by 1997, since the Tech Bubble helped fuel easy money and it was also well known that mortgage lenders simply stopped asking questions and just pushed through paperwork. I was surprised it took so long to pop. I thought for sure it was a goner in 2005.
OTOH, I do use the free ASAP utility for Excel that includes an Excel to HTML routine that really works. Unless you're on a Mac you should give it try and see how it looks in FR's HTML sandbox. The results are pretty much one to one with what you see in Excel and the links (if you have any) are live. That's a big advantage if you need to include links that are built into the spreadsheet. I don't know any other way to do it.
Note that ASAP Utilities is free to use for Home users, Students and Charitable Organizations. You only need to buy it if you are a business.
I use Office 2010. It outputs everything real nice.
>We cannot go back in time and try to conclude why a budget was more or less; we can only say that it was.<
Looking at the war years it explains why businesses love them. Gov’t spends during them like there’s no tomorrow.
Yep. Businesses love war so they politicians to keep us at war circa 1984.
Yep. Businesses love war so they pay politicians to keep us at war, circa 1984.
Here's what I've done... Zeugma's Debt page. I'm working on updating it.
Feel free to copy my data, images, etc. It took some time to get all that together as it isn’t in once single place to be found. Some of my links are the raw Excel data so that should help.