Who Increased the Debt?
The story comes with a chart showing percentage increase in US debts under the governance of various presidents.
Hoax or Fact:
Mixture of hoax and facts.
The chart that comes with this message shows the increase in public debt of United States under the governance of various presidents, namely Reagan, G.H.W. Bush, Clinton, G.W. Bush and Obama, analyzing who increased the US debt. The story however is a mixture of hoax and facts.
The actual source of this chart goes back to flickr profile of Leader Nancy Pelosi, showing G.W. with 86% increase in US public debt as against 115%, and that of Obama with 35% increase, as against 16% shown in this chart. This chart has been proved to lag in some facts and also came up with some mathematical errors. The chart mentioned in this story is infact a revised version of this original one.
Public debt in USA, in general, is the amount of money borrowed by the government issuing and selling government bonds, securities and bills (Debt held by the public). This includes the federal debt of all the investors outside federal government, including the individuals, local governments, corporations, the Federal reserve banking system and foreign governments. Also, there exists another form of debt held by the government accounts(Intragovernmental Debt), which includes money borrowed from itself, like for example, buying health care treasury securities. The chart represents percentage increase in US public debt, which relates to the total debt, also called 'Gross Federal Debt'- a combination of debts held by public and government accounts. The Treasury Department of USA displays all the account details of these debts on their official website. One can find the US debt between any period of time by using this app in the website. Note that this chart is NOT from the US Treasury Department as mentioned, it is is chart made up using manipulated data from the above mentioned website.
Related research at Politifact concluded the actual facts about this debt increase under various US presidents. The chart showed up close facts of debt increase under Reagan, G.H.W. Bush and Clinton, but it does not show the actual US debts for Bush and Obama governance. Debt research found that Bush has an 86 percent increase, against 115 percent shown in the chart, while that under Obama was 34 percent, which is more than double the 16 percent cited in the chart.
However, it is important to note that these US debts are simply numbers, and the metrics used here are limited and can be misleading in terms of performance of a President. If the actual public debts in US were used in this chart, instead of gross debt, Obama and George W. Bush would be in the same league - with 60 % increase for Obama (as of September 2011) versus 70 % for Bush — even though Bush was a president for much longer period. What actually matters is the size of gross debt when compared to the gross domestic product (GDP). GDP is the broadest measure of an economy which directly indicates the nation's ability to compensate for its debts. You may read further aspects of Debt analysis of US presidents on Washington post.