What about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act? It didn't add anything to the debt in Obama's first term. That's because most of its costs will occur in 2014, when the health insurance exchanges are set up and coverage is extended for more low-income people. In fact, tax increases will offset costs to the tune of $104 billion between 2010-2019. For more, see Obamacare Costs and CBO Report on the PPACA.
There were some other events that Obama faced over which he had no control. There was less Federal income, thanks to decreased tax receipts during the recession. Mandatory spending continued to increase, thanks to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Year by Year Breakout:
- FY 2009 - Although this was actually President Bush's last budget, it was being implemented during Obama's first year. Congress agreed to add the first year's worth of spending from the Economic Stimulus Act to this. That $253 billion accrues to Obama.
- FY 2010 - Obama's first budget created a $1.293 trillion deficit.
- FY 2012 - The deficit was the largest in history, at $1.327 trillion.
- FY 2011 - It contributed $1.299 trillion to the debt.
- FY 2013 - This was the first Obama budget where the deficit, $901 billion, was less than $1 trillion.
Why Do Some Say Obama Really Added $6 Trillion?:
However, it's a little misleading to hold Obama (or any other President) accountable for the deficit incurred during his first year of office. That's because the budget for that fiscal year was already set by the previous President. Bush's last budget (FY 2009) created a deficit of $1.16 trillion, even without the spending on the Economic Stimulus Act. Most of this addition to the debt occurred after the new President took office, and so should not be attributed to Obama.
Obama Debt vs Bush Debt:
However, in September Bush had to respond to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He asked Congress for an additional $33.8 billion to find the perpetrators in Afghanistan, and establish Homeland Security. As a result, his FY 2002 budget had a $158 billion deficit.
Although the recession was over, unemployment continued to rise peaking at 6% in June 2003. To boost business hiring, Bush gave companies a tax break with JGTRRA. He also initiated a second war that year, this time in Iraq. Combined the two wars cost $53 billion that year. The tax breaks and increased spending added $378 billion to the FY 2003 deficit.
In the next two years, Bush added $731 billion to the debt. Part of this was decreased revenue, and part was increased military spending, including $012.7 billion for the War on Terror.
Bush's second term was an extension of his policies in the first, adding $2.027 to the debt. Total spending on defense and security totaled $2.7 trillion, including $591 billion for the War on Terror alone. (Updated March 4, 2013)