Election 2020

Fact Check: Buttigieg Tells a Whopper About Democrats Having Better Record on the Debt and Deficits

Fact Check: Buttigieg Tells a Whopper About Democrats Having Better Record on the Debt and Deficits
Democratic presidential candidate former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN and the Des Moines Register in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

During Tuesday night’s debate in Iowa, Mayor Pete Buttigieg told one of the biggest whoppers I’ve heard when it comes to deficit spending and the national debt.


“Our party should no longer hesitate to talk about the issue of the debt and the deficit,” he argued. “We’ve got a dramatically better track record on it than Republicans do.”

“In my lifetime, it’s almost invariably Republican presidents who have added to the deficit,” he added. “A trillion dollars, under this president.”

Mayor Pete and I are almost the same age, and believe me, in my lifetime, and even in history, Democrats and Republicans have had annual deficits, and therefore added to the debt. But do Democrats really have a better record when it comes to deficit spending and adding to the debt?

Just ask Barack Obama.

Barack Obama added more debt than any other president in history. In fact, he added nearly as much debt as all his predecessors combined. When Obama took office, the gross federal debt was $10.6 trillion. When he left office, it was $19.95 trillion, an increase of 88 percent. Under the Obama administration, the debt-to-GDP ratio surpassed 100 percent for the first time since World War II.

When you spend like that, you don’t just have big deficits, you actually have the largest deficits in history. When Obama left office, the top seven deficits in history were his own. While it’s true that Trump’s record on spending isn’t exactly great either, Obama’s record is still worse:


So, Pete Buttigieg’s claim that Democrats are somehow better than Republicans when it comes to deficit spending and the debt is just absurd. Even if he wanted to argue that Clinton’s record on spending was what he was referring to, President Clinton is not responsible for balancing the budget on his watch during his presidency, Newt Gingrich and congressional Republicans are.

Sorry Pete, generally speaking, Democrats and Republicans have all contributed to the debt—but none more than Barack Obama, a Democrat. That’s nothing your party should be proud of.


Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis

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