Prior to the Great Depression deficits were unusual in the U.S. Budget surpluses occurred in over two-thirds of the years between 1800 and 1930
March 01, 2012

SOURCES: Data from the Office of Management and Budget, Budget of the United States Government: Fiscal Year 2013, Historical Tables, February 2012; Congressional Budget Office, Updated Budget Projections: Fiscal Years 2012 to 2022: March 2012; and the Historical Statistics of the United States, Millennial Edition Online, Cambridge 2006. Compiled by PGPF.

Debt and deficits naturally rise during times of economic stress and fall during times of economic prosperity. However, as shown in this chart, the largest deficits of the last 200 years have occurred during times of war. The deficit projected for 2012 is $1.2 trillion, or 7.6 percent of GDP.

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Related Charts:

Where The Growth In Spending Comes From
The Growth of Entitlement Programs
The Size of Tax Expenditures
Debt Held by Foreign Lenders
Long Term Federal Revenue

Peter G. Peterson Foundation Chart Pack:

The PGPF chart pack illustrates that budget-making involves many competing priorities, limited resources, and complex issues. In this set of charts, we aim to frame the financial condition and fiscal outlook of the U.S. government within a broad economic, political, and demographic context.
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