Which Party Contributes to the Federal Deficit the Most?

Recently, large omnibus bills and large budgets have been passed. This has lead to claims of irresponsible spending between both parties. Today we find out which party has contributed most to the deficit.


We tackled the question multiple ways to help create a clearer picture. The current budgetary structure requires that the Congress agree upon a budget and the President sign it. Often the presidential party is used as a surrogate for the larger party.  In our opinion this does not represent the complex negations that take place and contribute to the vast majority of time crafting a federal budget. To further reinforce this idea, a presidential budget has never been passed – it has always been the congressional budget that is passed.

We created four models for analyzing the federal deficit by party.  For each method we ultimately assigned a percentage of the debt-to-GDP ratio to each party. How we get to that percentage differed based on the method used, each of which is described below.

3 Way Weighting: With this method we weighted control of the House, Senate and President equally, or 33.3% for each that was controlled by a party. So, if Republicans controlled the House and Democrats controlled the Oval Office Republicans would be attributed to 33.3% of that year’s deficit and Democrats 66.6% of that year’s deficit.

Congressional Weighting: This method is similar to the 3 Way Weighting method but removes the president from the weighting brining control of the House and Senate each to 50%.

Trifecta Weighting: Here we took the suggestion that any split in the House, Senate or Oval Office resulted in equally shared responsibility for that year’s deficit. The means that only when one party had control of all three did we consider it a contribution to the overall deficit that could be attributed to a specific party.

Presidential Weighting: With this method we only take into account the party of the president and attributed all of that year’s deficit the president’s party.


Below we can see the deficit by year.

Below you can see the results for each year by method.

Once we split the deficit responsibility by party we summed each year’s ratio for each party and found the percentage of the total for each party.


In all four methods we found the deficit most often was attributed to Democrats by three or four times that of the Republicans.