Debt and Deficit Numbers

You got here by following the link from my essay, Taxes: It's your money, right!.

Clear graphs showing debts and deficit over time are surprisingly hard to find, although the relevant data is required by law to be published.

The data comes from the Budget of the United States for FY2005, published by the Office of Management and Budget, part of the White House. On this page, you can find a link to the Historical Tables ( (2 MB)). Table 7.1 describes the history of the national debt, both in absolute dollars and as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product.

A little reflection on political realities makes it not surprising that one wouldn't find a clear, compelling graph of these figures either on the OMB page of, or on partisan sites favoring current fiscal policies.

The clear graphs are available from a site which is clearly partisan, but their graphs are based directly on the OMB figures. A nice sign of honest quantitative graphics is that the vertical axis starts at zero, rather than at a larger value designed to magnify changes.

[If anyone can recommend a more non-partisan, equally authoritative site with equally clear graphs, I would appreciate it.]

Authoritative information on the Public Debt from the Treasury Department. Not surprisingly, no graphs, but you can cut and paste these numbers into a spreadsheet and make your own graphs. Very illuminating!

Read 'em --- or better, graph 'em --- and weep.

More links from various folks:

Written 24 July 2004