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Biden vs. Trump: Which President put the U.S. in more debt?

Biden vs. Trump: Which President put the U.S. in more debt?

Though the U.S. public debt has been creeping up for more than a century – and had some notable spikes in crisis years such as during the Second World War – the rise in the burden became especially sharp on three occasions: when the ‘Bretton Woods systemwas abandoned, when the ‘Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981,’ after the Great Recession, and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The debt became a hot topic once more in 2023 with the latest of many debt ceiling crises, and again in 2024 as Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) estimated that the country is adding $1 trillion to the burden every 100 days, and as the IMF issued a stern rebuke to the nation over its fiscal policy.

With the presidential elections coming in mere months – and with both of the biggest of the most likely candidates having already held office – Finbold decided to examine whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden added more to the national debt during their terms.

How much did President Trump Borrow?

When President Trump took office in January 2017, the national debt stood just under $20 trillion, per the data made available through FRED. By the time he left the White House in January 2021, the burden had skyrocketed to $27.7 trillion.

The two biggest spikes in debt took place in 2020 – a significant crisis year marked by sweeping stimulus packages and significant currency creation – and in 2018 – the year Trump’s ‘Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’ came into effect.

Indeed, during the first of the pandemic, the national debt rocketed $4.5 trillion, while the first year of the Trump tax cuts saw the adding of nearly $1.5 trillion in burden.

In total, the Trump presidency saw the debt increase by just under $7 trillion.

How much debt did President Biden add?

While President Trump added a shocking amount of debt – especially given the standard Republican rhetoric about fiscal responsibility – President Biden appears no better, especially given his administration has another 6 months to increase the burden.

Indeed, the latest full-year data covering 2023 shows that the public debt has rocketed to $34 trillion, meaning that the current White House has added as much burden in three years as the previous one did in four.

Indeed, the figure is so high that the burden in December was some $7 trillion greater than the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).

 While projections for the end of 2024 – and thus, for the final tally of the Biden administration – are not reliable, currently, it would appear that the Federal Government will owe somewhere between $37 and $38 trillion 

At any rate, unless there are significant changes by the end of 2024, President Biden will have added anywhere between $7 and $10 trillion by the end of his first term in office.

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