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10 Biggest Budget Deficits

Largest Federal Budget Deficits by President in Modern History

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Who's responsible for the biggest budget deficits in U.S. history? You could argue that it's Congress, which approves spending bills. You could argue it's the president, who sets the national agenda, delivers his budget proposals to lawmakers and signs off on the final tab.

You could blame it on the lack of a balanced-budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution or not enough use of sequestration.

Related: How to Amend the Constitution

The question of who's to blame for the biggest budget deficits is up for debate, and will ultimately be decided by history.

This article deals solely with the numbers, the size of the biggest deficits in history. These are the 10 biggest budget deficits by raw amount, and they haven't been adjusted for inflation.

The list of the 10 biggest budget deficits uses data from the Congressional Budget Office.

Note: The federal government's fiscal year runs from from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30 of each year.

You can find a longer list of federal budget deficits here. To find out which party controlled Congress when these budget deficits were incurred go here.

1. $1.4 Trillion - 2009

The biggest federal deficit on record is $1,412,700,000,000. Republican George W. Bush was president for about a thirds of the 2009 fiscal year, and Democrat Barack Obama took office and was president for the remaining two thirds.

2. $1.3 Trillion - 2011

The second biggest budget deficit in U.S. history was $1,295,600,000,000 and occurred during Obama's presidency.

3. $1.3 Trillion - 2010

The third largest budget deficit is $1,293,500,000,000 and came during Obama's presidency.

4. $1.1 Trillion - 2012

The fourth biggest budget deficit was $1,089,400,000,000 and occurred during Obama's presidency.

5. $459 Billion - 2008

The fifth-largest budget deficit was $458,600,000,000 and occurred during Bush's presidency.

6. $413 Billion - 2004

The sixth-largest budget deficit was $412,700,000,000 and occurred during the Bush administration.

7. $378 Billion - 2003

The seventh-largest budget deficit was $377,600,000,000 and occurred during the Bush presidency.

8. $318 Billion - 2005

The eighth largest budget deficit was $412,700,000,000 and occurred during the Bush administration.

9. $290 Billion - 1993

The ninth-largest annual budget deficit was $255,000,000,000 and occurred during Democratic President Bill Clinton's administration.

10. $269 Billion - 1991

The tenth-largest budget deficit in U.S. history was $269,200,000,000 and occurred during Republican President George H.W. Bush's administration.

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