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Only 13 out of the past 82 years the federal government spent less than it took in.

Welcome to  There is a book out there called how to lie with statistics.  One of the premises behind that book is that you can really make numbers say anything you want them to.  Here at VoteFacts we want to make those kind of lies a little bit harder to tell.

Both sides in this election season are going to be accusing each other of spending recklessly, and exploding the deficit.  It’s true, both Republicans and Democrats have, consistently, been spending more than they have taken in for decades.

How consistently, you may ask.  Well since 1930 there have only been 13 years with a federal budget surplus.  This means that during a whopping 69 out of the last 82 years, our federal government spent more than it took in.  This is taking into account both on and off budget items.  (See our Featured Fast Facts group number 124 to learn more about on-off budget).

Here are the years when total receipts (as a percentage of GDP) outnumbered total outlays:  1930, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1951, 1956, 1957, 1960, 1969, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001.

Many Americans complain that our government is incapable of doing things well.  But it looks to us like our federal government is actually quite good at spending more than it takes in.  We’ve made this snappy chart and, as always, we don't want you to take our word for it so we have inserted the link to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) table with all the data so you can check the numbers for yourself.

hist01z2(6) Table

OMB Chart
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Is it true that only 13 out of the past 82 years, the federal government spent less than it took in?
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