In “Reaganomics Replay” (May 14), Mr. Bruce Emerick , like most progressives, uses percentages to show the increase (190 percent or almost tripling) in national debt under President Ronald Reagan. The dollar increase in national debt, however, is a more realistic measure of a president’s economic track record.
In the numbers following, the first year’s debt growth under a president is not counted because it was incurred under the previous president’s budget and economic policies.
Reagan added $1.86 trillion to the debt, a 186 percent increase from the $998 billion debt at the end of President Jimmy Carter’s last budget.
By comparison, President Barack Obama added $7.917 trillion to the debt, a 68 percent increase from the $11.643 trillion debt at the end of President George W. Bush’s last budget.
Note that although Obama’s debt increase is only 68 percent for seven years compared with Reagan’s 186+ percent for seven years, Obama’s dollar increase is $6.057 trillion more — or more than quadruple that of Reagan’s dollar increase.
Was “Reaganomics” a success? Under Reagan, the average GDP growth was 3.5 percent a year. Under Obama, the average GDP growth was 1.6 percent a year. Under Reagan, the Soviet Union surrendered the Cold War to Reagan’s outspending them without firing a shot. Under Obama, I’m not sure what success was achieved for his spending.