Skip to comments.The Debt Under Clinton
Posted on 08/13/2003 9:49:37 PM PDT by Jack Black
It is often claimed that Clinton "balanced the budget" and "reduced the debt". I've been trying to verify the truth in this, so I decided to "go to the source" and get the facts. Here is what the U.S. Treasury, Bereau of the Debt says on their web site about the debt. Based on these numbers it is clear the debt rose every year of Clinton's stay.
Historical Debt Outstanding - Annual 1950 - 2000 * Rounded to Millions Includes legal tender notes, gold and silver certificates, etc.
09/30/2000 $5,674,178,209,886.86 09/30/1999 5,656,270,901,615.43 09/30/1998 5,526,193,008,897.62 09/30/1997 5,413,146,011,397.34 09/30/1996 5,224,810,939,135.73 09/29/1995 4,973,982,900,709.39 09/30/1994 4,692,749,910,013.32 09/30/1993 4,411,488,883,139.38 09/30/1992 4,064,620,655,521.66 09/30/1991 3,665,303,351,697.03 09/28/1990 3,233,313,451,777.25 09/29/1989 2,857,430,960,187.32 09/30/1988 2,602,337,712,041.16 09/30/1987 2,350,276,890,953.00 09/30/1986 2,125,302,616,658.42 12/31/1985 1,945,941,616,459.88 12/31/1984 1,662,966,000,000.00 * 12/31/1983 1,410,702,000,000.00 * 12/31/1982 1,197,073,000,000.00 * 12/31/1981 1,028,729,000,000.00 * 12/31/1980 930,210,000,000.00 * 12/31/1979 845,116,000,000.00 * 12/29/1978 789,207,000,000.00 * 12/30/1977 718,943,000,000.00 * 12/31/1976 653,544,000,000.00 * 12/31/1975 576,649,000,000.00 * 12/31/1974 492,665,000,000.00 * 12/31/1973 469,898,039,554.70 12/29/1972 449,298,066,119.00 12/31/1971 424,130,961,959.95 12/31/1970 389,158,403,690.26 12/31/1969 368,225,581,254.41 12/31/1968 358,028,625,002.91 12/29/1967 344,663,009,745.18 12/30/1966 329,319,249,366.68 12/31/1965 320,904,110,042.04 12/31/1964 317,940,472,718.38 12/31/1963 309,346,845,059.17 12/31/1962 303,470,080,489.27 12/29/1961 296,168,761,214.92 12/30/1960 290,216,815,241.68 12/31/1959 290,797,771,717.63 12/31/1958 282,922,423,583.87 12/31/1957 274,897,784,290.72 12/31/1956 276,627,527,996.11 12/30/1955 280,768,553,188.96 12/31/1954 278,749,814,391.33 12/31/1953 275,168,120,129.39 06/30/1953 266,071,061,638.57 06/30/1952 259,105,178,785.43 06/29/1951 255,221,976,814.93 06/30/1950 257,357,352,351.04
Updated January 31, 2001
it's a little easier to read there.
So, lets all say it together. The Debt of the USA rose by about 2 trillion dollars during the Clinton era. This was a growth of about 54% in 8 years.
OK, you say, but what is "the debt" Woz?
Again, here is what the Bureau of the Debt says in their FAQ:
What is the difference between the debt and the deficit?
The deficit is the fiscal year difference between what the Government takes in from taxes and other revenues, called receipts, and the amount of money the Government spends, called outlays. The items included in the deficit are considered either on-budget or off-budget. (The off-budget items are typically comprised of the two Social Security trust funds, old-age and survivors insurance and disability insurance, and the Postal-Service fund.) Generally, on-budget outlays tend to exceed on-budget receipts, while off-budget receipts tend to exceed off-budget outlays.
You can think of the total debt as accumulated deficits plus accumulated off-budget surpluses. The on-budget deficits require the Treasury to borrow money to raise cash needed to keep the Government operating. We borrow the money by selling Treasury securities like T-bills, notes, bonds and savings bonds to the public. Additionally, the Government Trust Funds are required by law to invest accumulated surpluses in Treasury securities. The Treasury securities issued to the public and to the Government Trust Funds (Intragovernmental Holdings) then become part of the total debt.
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OK, so there is some weird on-budget / off-budge hokey pokey that Clinton and his Wall Street genius buddies were able to manipulate, but the numbers above don't lie. Accumulated Deficits (everything we owe, including this year) + off budget (SSI) surplusses. = Debt. Clinton never budged this to change directions.
I am happy to set the record straight. CLINTON INCREASED THE DEBT BY 54% or Two Trillion (!) Dollars. Or, for those of you financially inclined the CAGR of the Debt. under clinton was 5.6% . Ahh yes, that fiscal conservative.
OK, but lets go see if we can find deficit numbers. Obviously as long as there *IS* a deficit (ie: you end the month with more bills than income, you use your credit card to pay the difference) your debt is going to go up. Now if you were using $500 a month of credit to pay bills and got it down to $100 of credit card charge to pay bills you would have reduced your personal monthly deficit (but not eliminated it) but your total debt would continue to grow, just by a smaller amount.
Unless someone can explain why I claim that the constant, never reversed growth in debt displayed above is PROOF that *there was always a budget deficit under Clinton*.
Maybe it happened for a month or a quarter that there was a surplus, or maybe they used funny accounting around the on the books / off the books stuff. But bank accounts don't lie. Looked at on a year by year basis you CAN NOT FIND A YEAR CLINTON DID NOT ADD TO THE DEBT! (To be utterly fair it *was* a very low 0.35% in his last year. "Only" $20 Billion was added that year.)
It is good to explain the debt/deficit difference once and a while..
BTW, the low numbers in 99 were due to pay downs/buy backs of some older securities. Unfortunately the idea went out the window with the loss of some good congress critters and the return of the big spenders beginning with the Farm Bill.
That said, the total budget deficit for Clinton's second term, the years 1996 though 2000, was about the same as this year's (2003) deficit, 450 billion.
The national debt skyrocketed under Reagan and Bush the First. Clinton then managed to stop the rise in debt during his term, and Bush the Second has since increased our national debt at a record rate. Nice fiscal responsibility, Republicans.