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The $4.351 Trillion Difference Between Obama & Clinton

2:40 PM, Sep 5, 2012 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
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Always looking "forward," President Obama has asked Bill Clinton—who was elected to the presidency 20 years ago—to speak tonight and suggest to the American people (whether explicitly or implicitly) that this is really a choice between Clinton and George W. Bush, rather than between Obama and Mitt Romney. If you're Obama, this beats running on your record.

clinton and obama and Edwards

The only problem with this—in addition to the fact that Romney isn't Bush (and Paul Ryan isn't Dick Cheney)—is that Obama's record doesn't bear much resemblance to Clinton's.  One could point to the rather obvious differences between the strong Clinton economy and the anemic Obama economy, between Clinton's signing welfare reform into law and Obama's undermining it via executive order, between Clinton's tacking to the center to work with Republicans and Obama's not moving to the center but playing to his base (rejecting the Keystone Pipeline, embracing gay marriage, making it illegal for Americans to offer or to choose health plans that don't include "free" birth control, "free" sterilization, and "free" access to the abortion drug ella).

But one thing perhaps highlights the difference between Clinton and Obama most clearly: The increase in the national debt on their respective watches. Both men enjoyed two years of single-party control in Washington before they subsequently lost one (Obama) or both (Clinton) houses of Congress.  In this way, their circumstances have been similar, but their results have not.

According to the U.S. Treasury Department, from the day Clinton took office (January 20, 1993) to September 5 of the year he sought reelection (1996), the national debt rose from $4.188 trillion to $5.226 trillion -- an increase of $1.038 trillion. During Clinton's entire 8-year presidency, the national debt rose from $4.188 trillion to $5.728 trillion—an increase of $1.540 trillion. In comparison, from the day Obama took office (January 20, 2009) to today, the national debt rose from $10.627 trillion to $16.016 trillion—an increase of $5.389 trillion. That's $4,351,000,000,000 more than during the same span of time under Clinton, and $3,849,000,000,000 more than during the entire Clinton presidency.

In other words, during the first 43 months of their respective presidencies, the national debt increased more than five times as much under Obama as under Clinton.  In fact, the national debt has increased more than three times as much during the first 3-1/2 years under Obama as it did during the full 8 years under Clinton.

As a percentage of the gross domestic product (GDP)—perhaps an even more meaningful gauge—Obama's record looks even worse. Average annual deficit spending under Clinton was 0.1 percent of GDP, compared to 8.4 percent of GDP under Obama.

America can't afford four more years of Obama.

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