WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump claimed Feb. 15 that former President Barack Obama “put on more debt on this country than every president in the history of our country combined.”
Public debt more than doubled in the eight years of Obama’s presidency, rising from $6.3 trillion to $14.4 trillion. Gross federal debt – which includes the amount owed to Social Security and other government accounts – nearly, but did not quite, double.
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Trump held a press conference Feb. 15 at the White House to declare a national emergency at the southern border. After his remarks, Trump took questionsfrom reporters, including one about his plan to combat the growing national debt.
Trump said economic “growth will straighten it out” and criticized Obama’s management of the debt. “When I took over, we had one man that put on more debt than every other president combined,” he said.
The national debt can be divided into two parts – the amount owed to the public, including private citizens, foreign governments and international investors, and what’s known as intragovernmental holdings, the amount owed to the Social Security Trust Fund and other government accounts.
While the national debt has been increasing for decades due to near-annual budget deficits, it grew dramatically under Obama, increasing from $10.6 trillion in January 2009 to $19.9 trillion in January 2017, according to Treasury Department figures.