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Fact Check Team: US debt projections, past presidents’ impacts & trillion-dollar worries

In recent months, the United States has seen a decline in inflation rates, but Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell remains cautious, emphasizing the need for increased confidence before considering interest rate cuts. The nation’s escalating debt crisis has been described by Powell as “an unsustainable fiscal path.”

Currently standing at over $34 trillion, projections from the Congressional Budget Office suggest an alarming 181% increase over the next thirty years, translating to a staggering $144 trillion. This is equal to $1 million per household, which is more than four times the median household net worth of approximately $122,000.

A mounting national debt raises the risk of cuts to vital government programs, potential tax increases, and a surge in interest rates, impacting everyday expenses such as credit card payments, car loans, and mortgages. Furthermore, the broader economic ramifications include decreased consumer and business confidence, potentially stunting growth and even precipitating a recession.

As the U.S. grapples with its staggering national debt, historical patterns shed light on the presidents who have significantly influenced this economic challenge.

Franklin D. Roosevelt led with the highest percentage increase, exceeding 1,000%. The New Deal was a significant contributor, but the biggest cost during his time in office was World War II, adding $186.3 billion to the debt between 1942 and 1945. Following closely behind, Woodrow Wilson with a 723% increase, primarily to finance World War I.

Among more recent presidents, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama are notable for their contributions to the debt. Warren G. Harding (1921-1923) and Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929) stand out as the only presidents since 1900 to leave office without contributing to the national debt. In fact, by the end of their administrations, the federal debt was reduced by one-third.

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