Did the US debt increase by $7.8 trillion during Donald Trump’s presidency?

21 July 2023

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The national debt on Jan. 19, 2017, the day before Donald Trump was inaugurated president, was $19,944,429,217,107.

On Jan. 19, 2021, the day before Joe Biden was inaugurated, the debt was: $27,752,835,868,445 — about $7.8 trillion higher.

As of July 14, 2023, more than halfway through Biden’s term, the debt had risen by another roughly $4.7 trillion, to $32,542,410,783,067.

When the government spends more than it takes in, it borrows to make up the deficit. The outstanding debt is the accumulated deficits from previous years.

The debt is a result of decisions made by a president and Congress during a president’s term, but also by decisions made by previous presidents and Congresses.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, made the statement about Trump and the debt during a July 11, 2023, interview with the website Wisconsin Right Now. Trump is also a candidate.

This fact brief, originally published by Wisconsin Watch, is responsive to claims such as this one.


FiscalData Debt to the Penny (custom date range search)
Pew Research 5 facts about the U.S. national debt
FiscalData Debt to the Penny (as of July 14, 2023)
FiscalData Understanding the National Debt
Wisconsin Right Now Florida Gov Ron DeSantis interview (3:10)

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