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From USA Data

Washington Report Cards.

Many seem to now agree that the US is in big financial trouble.  However, what the pundits on TV do not agree is how we got here and what needs to be done.  And there is much finger pointing.  But one thing I see little of ... is looking for official US data by almost anyone to answer our most basic questions.  The below numbers are not opinion nor conjecture, since you can get plenty of that on TV.  What it is is data sorted or added or collected from an official US Government site - the US BEA, Bureau of Economic Analysis, which is with the Department of Commerce.  So then, this is official US data used here.  As for my addition and averaging, I did check my calculations twice separately and they check out fine.

Here are some questions to ponder before I help provide the answers.

  1. Who was the last president to have a balanced budget?

  2. What percentage of US debt is owned by China?  Do they own us?

  3. What is the current US debt accruing each year and how is it paid?

  4. What would you respond to if someone said that Jimmy Carter had the best US economic growth period?

  5. Did the Republicans drive the car off the road as many on TV allege?

  6. Does Nancy Pelosi deserve an award as she claims for her Financial Report Card?

  7. Does either party have a clear great record on US Financials?

  8. Why does no one on TV check out these figures before speaking?

The data below is from the US BEA administration after using simple math averaging.  In the case of two terms, that of JFK and also Richard Nixon, neither completed their tour of office.  What I did in both cases for simplicity was to not give the ownership to the successor till January 1 of the next year.  This is close to accurate for JFK who was killed in November (Nov 22), but a bit more stretch for Nixon followed by Ford since Nixon I believe left in August.  This simplified the data a bit, but I do not believe it changes much if anything.  In the case of our most recent times, the US BEA does not yet have data out for 4th quarter 2010, and so for both President Barack Obama and for the Democratic Congress, I used only those quarters of information we had available, up through and including Q3 2010, and took that into account during the math division to get averaging.

Based on those thoughts, here is the data averaging for four key US Financial Metrics of % Unemployment (official records which may be lower than actual), $ profit or deficit (which is essentially for the US all income, mostly IRS income minus all expenses as reported by US BEA), Then % GDP economic growth measured in two key ways:  in $US Dollars, and also in $US 2005 dollars in order to remove inflation impact.

% $ Profit/yr % GDP % GDP Year Year Quarters
Unemploy. (or deficit) $ US  2005 $ Begin End of
  $ Billions   (Real %)     Data
DD Eisenhower 4.89 4.86 4.53 2.61 1953 1960 32
JF Kennedy 5.97 -6.83 6.58 5.24 1961 1963 12
LB Johnson 4.17 -10.88 8.17 5.11 1964 1968 20
R Nixon 5.09 -14.63 8.88 2.62 1969 1974 24
G. Ford 8.09 -74.59 10.23 3.48 1975 1976 8
J. Carter 6.54 -45.06 11.66 3.31 1977 1980 16
R. Reagan 7.54 -184.51 7.70 3.54 1981 1988 32
GHW Bush 6.30 -277.00 5.48 2.16 1989 1992 16
B Clinton 5.20 -107.57 5.73 3.81 1993 2000 32
GW Bush 5.27 -450.27 4.36 1.75 2001 2008 32
B Obama 9.43 -1580.29 2.26 1.29 2009   7
Congress Republican 5.03 -211.81 5.42 3.17 1995 2006 48
Congress Democratic 7.18 -1089.58 2.23 0.49 2007 2010 15

Please allow me to use the above data to answer the above questions first:

Who was the last president to have a balanced budget?

Dwight D. Eisenhower, over 50 years ago.  No one since.  And so us old people FINALLY get us an answer to why there were "I Like Ike" buttons out at the time.  Very prophetic.

What percentage of US debt is owned by China?  Do they own us?

A little over 6% - only.  While the numbers here change often and are not in the above, this is a good item to know.  The last I checked US debt total was at about $14 trillion and China owns about $870 billion of our debt.  So China therefore only owns about 6.2% of our outstanding US debt.  One pundit on TV actually gave the right answer on this.  However, many seem to imply that now China owns the US, which is not true.  Clearly China could be paid off if the US began making money again, and it would not be so hard.

What is the current US debt accruing each year and how is it paid?

According to the US BEA Dept of Commerce Records that I averaged above, Obama is increasing the US debt an average of $1.58 trillion a year through his first 7 quarters.  How it is paid, well, I have not heard a good explanation.  Since it is a deficit, then clearly it cannot be covered by IRS income.  Since loans to the US by other countries like China is lower and China is about half total (Approx $870 billion) of one years worth (1580 billion) of US debt then it is not likely that loans or bonds could cover such a large amount.  And on 60 Minutes Bernanke said that he was not just printing money.  So it would seem someone should ask if we cannot cover it by income, nor by loans, and are not printing money, how are we covering it?  My guess and I admit it is a guess is that some is paid in loans (bonds) but that yes, the US is printing money.  I frankly do not see another choice other than selling assets.

How can President Jimmy Carter have the best US growth in Gross National Product?  (now called GDP)

Well, at first I was going to give Mr. Carter an award since that surprised me.  But then I noticed the column next to it - that says in non inflated 2005 US dollars that his achievement was really 3.31% growth, which is less than JFK, LBJ and some others.  So the high GDP growth in US dollars for Jimmy Carter - and also of course for Gerald Ford after him - was about half due to inflation during their terms.

Did the Republicans drive the car off the road as many on TV allege?

The numbers do not say that Republicans caused the problem, and in fact say the opposite.

Bush Versus Obama

  1. Unemployment:  Bush average of 5.27% is almost twice as good as Obama's 9.32%

  2. $ Deficit:  While Bush cost us a lot, an average of about $450 billion per year deficit, he is a piker compared to Obama's $1580 billion a year deficit.

  3. % GDP in 2005 dollars was horrible for Bush at 1.75% real growth in US Industry, but Obama still managed to be worse at 1.29% real growth per year

Democratic Congress versus the Republican Congress

  1. Unemployment:  For Republicans (95-06) was one of the lowest at 5.03%, while for Democrats (07-10) a higher 7.18%

  2. $ Deficit - Republicans lost $212 billion a year, which is quite bad, but Democrats lost more than 4 times as much at $1089 billion a year

  3. % GDP real (2005 dollars) for Republicans was a low 3.17, but this was heaven compared to 0.49%  for Democrats

Should Nancy Pelosi Get an Award for Her Financial Performance as she suggest?

Awards of course are up to the presenter, and I am not that person.  :)  However I will admit that I was quite surprised when I found and averaged US numbers just how bad her financial performance was.  The Democratic Congress increased debt per year more than four times faster, and almost five times faster than the Republican Congress before it.  That to me is an extreme difference.  Adding to that was the horror I saw that in un-inflated dollars, the Democratic Congress only had 0.49% growth in GDP - while China claims 10% growth.  Well, one would have to find what currency the China claim is made in, but either way, that is close to a factor of 20 difference.

Does either party have a clear great record on US Financials?

You of course can form your own opinion from the above.  I myself would say that if I were not an independent before doing these studies, I sure am one now.  Both parties had good moments and bad moments.  One of the recent best ones was Democratic Bill Clinton working with a Republican Congress.  And at least for my tastes, the last 10 years were not financially good for the US.

Why does no one on TV check out these figures before speaking?

Well, again, that is not clear from the numbers.  But my opinion, and let me clear that this is just an opinion, is that the numbers above do not bode well for either political party.  And as politicians become political along with newscasters, well, the facts back up none of their sides.  But again that is my opinion - on why TV seems to have mostly only opinion and does not quote US Financial History.

Hope you enjoyed this.  I learned a bit by going through these numbers.