Open letter to President Obama (Part 153)

Federal Spending by the Numbers

President Obama c/o The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

I know that you receive 20,000 letters a day and that you actually read 10 of them every day. I really do respect you for trying to get a pulse on what is going on out here. 

I wondered how much debt has been run up during the last 3 years. The democrats downplay our debt problem and maybe the republicans have been making it sound worse than it is. What is the real truth? Is the current adminstration running up our national debt faster than any previous administration?

You are the President of the United States and I am sure you don’t want to be remembered as the man who did not ever cut anything from the budget. We need some major cuts now.

Posted: April 15, 2012 – 12:25am  

By Carole Fader April 15, 2012 – 12:25am

Fact Check: President Obama ‘undisputed debt king’ of last 5 presidents

Times-Union readers want to know:

Is it true that the national debt has increased more under President Barack Obama than all the previous 43 presidents combined?

Sarah Palin told this to Fox News last year and it has been repeated in viral emails since.

It wasn’t true when she said it in May 2011 and it still isn’t true today. But partisan comments about the debt are nothing new and, according to fact-finding organizations, there’s been a lot of “sugarcoating” going on by both parties.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, for example, said on her website in early May 2011 that the debt had increased only 16 percent since Obama took office. That number was bandied about for a while by Democrats but, despite being corrected later, it is still being used in various postings and emails.

On a Flickr page, Pelosi had listed the following debt-increase numbers for these presidents: Ronald Reagan, up 189 percent; George H.W. Bush, up 55 percent; Bill Clinton, up 37 percent; George W. Bush, up 115 percent; Obama, up 16 percent., a Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-finding project of the Tampa Bay Times, took a hard look at the chart and found that Obama’s number was based on him taking office on Jan. 20, 2010, a year later than his actual inauguration date.

Using the real time frame, found that as of May 2011, George W. Bush had an increase of $4.899 trillion, or 86 percent, not 115 percent, and debt under Obama had risen $3.661 trillion, or 34 percent — not 16 percent. Numbers for the elder Bush, Reagan and Clinton were essentially correct.

When pointed out by, Pelosi’s office acknowledged the calculation error and changed the information. also went one step farther. It looked at the debt as a percentage of the gross domestic product because this factors out complications such as economic cycles and inflation. Using Office of Management and Budget statistics, here’s what PolitiFact found:

Reagan, up 14.9 percentage points; George H.W. Bush, up 7.1 percentage points; Clinton, down 13.4 percentage points; George W. Bush, up 5.6 percentage points; Obama, up 21.9 percentage points. reported: “So by this measurement — potentially a more important one — Obama is the undisputed debt king of the last five presidents, rather than the guy who added a piddling amount to the debt, as Pelosi’s chart suggested.”

It also depends on what kind of debt you look at: public debt, which is debt held by the public, or gross federal debt, which combines that debt plus debt held by the government itself. The Washington Post also pointed out other ways to look at presidential debt in an article at

Another way of checking out the national debt is at the Treasury Department’s “debt to the penny” website at

That database shows that Palin’s statement about Obama’s debt increase surpassing all previous presidents combined is not factual. The nation’s total debt was $10.626 trillion on the day Obama took office and, as of Thursday, it had increased to $15.614 trillion — a rise of $4.988 trillion.

Actually, Obama’s debt-increase number overtook that of George W. Bush — which rose from $5.727 trillion to $10.626, or $4.899 trillion — last month.

So, yes, the debt increase has risen more during Obama’s almost three years and three months in office than it did during eight years of Bush’s presidency — but obviously not more than all presidents combined., (904) 359-4635


Thank you so much for your time. I know how valuable it is. I also appreciate the fine family that you have and your commitment as a father and a husband.


Everette Hatcher III, 13900 Cottontail Lane, Alexander, AR 72002, ph 501-920-5733,

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