What Was the Deficit During Each President's Term in Office?


Quick Answer

The deficit is a number calculated yearly that states how much money the government spent versus how much it accumulated. Presidential terms last more than a year. The first deficit in the United States, $1 billion, was under Woodrow Wilson in 1917, and the latest was $649 billion under Barack Obama in 2014.

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Full Answer

The Obama deficits ranged from $1.546 trillion in his first year, 2010, to $649 billion, which included funding for the Economic Stimulus Package, extending unemployment benefits and supplying tax cuts. The deficits under George W. Bush ranged from $158 billion in his first year, 2002, to $1.16 trillion in 2009; these debts included funding for the War on Terror in response to the 9/11 attacks and several tax cuts. Bill Clinton's ranged from a $22 billion deficit in 1997 to a $128 billion surplus in his last year, 2001. Bill Clinton's presidency was the last to accumulate a surplus instead of a deficit as of 2014.

Under George H. W. Bush, the deficits ranged from $221 billion in 1990 to $290 billion in 1992. During one term, he accumulated a total deficit of $1.03 trillion, due mostly to the invasion of Iraq, Desert Storm, and a government bailout. From 1960 when Dwight Eisenhower was president to the end of Ronald Reagan's term in 1989, the deficits rose more or less steadily. The deficit fluctuated from the beginning of Harry Truman's term in 1946. From 1931 under Herbert Hoover, when there was a slight deficit, until the end of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's presidency in 1945, the deficits rose steadily. There was a period of surplus after the first deficits, from 1918 until 1919. This period lasted from 1921, when Wilson was in charge, through Warren G. Harding's term and Calvin Coolidge's term, until the first year of Hoover's presidency in 1930.

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