March 2, 2010

United States Deficit & Debt During Presidents from 1969-2019

What is the difference between the Deficit and Debt you ask? Wikipedia and the U.S. Department of the Treasury have good explanations.

At times my curiosity will get the best of me and I start trolling through the glorious amount of data available on the Internet. A while back I started using the awesome data published by the United States Congressional Budget Office to better understand the US Deficit and US Debt during the different presidential terms in recent history. I managed to coerce the data into a useful chart that satisfied my curiosity:

USA CBO Deficit & Debt Since 1969, Projections through 2019

The top chart is the deficit and the bottom one is Debt held by the public. All numbers are expressed as a percentage of GDP as this seems to be the only meaningful value over time. As the legend shows the dark blue line is actual and the light blue line is projections.
The actual data comes from the Congressional Budget Office Historical Budget Data report revised on June 23, 2009 and can be found at The projections data comes from "The Budget and Economic Outlook: An Update published in August 2009. It can be found at

All of this was done as a spreadsheet in Apple Numbers '09. The spreadsheet with the raw data and the chart can be downloaded by anyone here.

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