US Deficit Spending as a % of GDP by President
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The previous record for most deficit spending during a presidency was set by President George W. Bush (see table 1.3 in the White House’s Historic Tables). During Bush’s 8-year administration, total deficit spending was $3.402 trillion. That’s a truly extraordinary and reckless sum. It’s also $1.768 trillion less than deficit spending in just four years under Obama. Per year, deficits under Bush averaged $425 billion. Per year, deficits under Obama (according to his own numbers) will average $1.293 trillion — or more than three times as much.
Well, prior to Obama, our annual deficit spending had only exceeded 6.0 percent of GDP during the Civil War, World War I, and World War II. Except during those huge conflicts, our deficits had never exceeded 6.0 percent of GDP in any year — not during the Great Depression, not at the height of the Cold War defense buildup, not ever. But that’s no longer the case. During Obama’s four years in the White House (and, again, using his own numbers), annual deficit spending will average 8.4 percent of GDP.
Adding all of this up, deficit spending during Obama’s four years in the White House (based on his own figures) will be an estimated $5.170 trillion — or $5,170,000,000,000.00. To help put that colossal sum of money into perspective, if you take our deficit spending under Obama and divide it evenly among the roughly 300 million American citizens, that works out to just over $17,000 per person — or about $70,000 for a family of four.