Washington, D.C. - Since the end of World War II, Democrats in Congress have generated 90.3% of federal debt held by the public while Republicans have been responsible for 9.7% during the same period. This debt is owed by America to individuals, firms, foreign governments, and the Federal Reserve.
To make an apples-to-apples comparison, the new congressional report by the Joint Economic Committee staff of Vice Chairman Kevin Brady of Texas uses constant 2010 dollars to ensure a dollar of debt incurred in the past is compared equally with a dollar of debt today. Since Congress holds the purse strings, the change in federal debt during each fiscal year was attributed to the party that controlled Congress at the beginning of the fiscal year. When congressional control was split control, one-half of the change was assigned to each party.
“As the debt ceiling vote nears, it’s clear Democrats are responsible for running up the lion’s share of America’s dangerous debt," said Brady, the top Republican on the JEC. "Republicans are committed to controlling spending, but the White House and Congressional Democrats can no longer shirk their obligation to help clean up a mess they played an overwhelming role in creating.”
Republican control since 1945 produced two periods of federal budget surpluses – fiscal years 1948-1949 and 1998-2001 – for a net reduction in federal debt held by the public of $352 billion in today’s dollars. This includes the four years of GOP control during the George W. Bush presidency.
The U.S. debt ceiling limit also includes intra-governmental debt owed mainly to the Social Security and Medicare trust funds. The analysis of that debt shows Democrats are responsible for 74.1% and Republicans 25.9% of the gross federal debt since World War II.
The summary and year-by-year breakdowns are attached in the PDF below.