The $13.6-Trillion Man: Geithner Sets All-Time Record for Spending by Treasury Secretary

By Terence P. Jeffrey | January 3, 2013 | 4:44 PM EST

President Barack Obama and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in the Cabinet Room of the White House. (White House photo/Pete Souza)

( - Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who reportedly will leave office at the end of this month, is already responsible for spending and borrowing more money than any of his predecessors as secretary of the Treasury.

The U.S. Senate confirmed Geithner on Jan. 26, 2009. Between February 2009, the first full month of Geithner’s tenure, and the end of November 2012, the last full month for which federal spending records are available, the U.S. Treasury dispensed approximately $13.582319 trillion.

As of the close of business on Jan. 26, 2009, the day Geithner was confirmed, the debt of the U.S. government was $10,620,857,710,762.31. As of the close of business on Jan. 2, 2013, the debt of the U.S. government was $16,432,705,914,255.48. That means that, so far, during Geithner’s time at Treasury, the debt of the U.S. government has increased by $5,811,848,203,493.17.

That is a jump of about 54.7 percent in a little less than four years.

During the time that Geithner has been Treasury secretary, the Treasury has borrowed about 43 cents of every dollar it has spent.

The Treasury secretary most likely to have had a chance to outspend Geithner was Henry Morganthau, Jr., who served under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt from Jan 1, 1934 to July 22, 1945. Morganthau’s tenure covered most of the Great Depression and World War II. But during the entirety of the period from fiscal 1934 through fiscal 1945, according to figures published by the White House Office of Management and Budget, the federal government spent only $365.571 billion in current year dollars. When adjusted for inflation (using the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator), cumulative federal spending from fiscal 1934 through fiscal 1945 equaled about $5.0993 trillion in 2012 dollars.

Across twelve years spanning the Great Depression and World War II, Morganthau’s Treasury did not spend as much as Geithner’s Treasury borrowed during President Barack Obama’s first term.

During George W. Bush's 8 years as president, the federal government's debt increased by about $4.9 trillion. During those eight years, there were three full-time Treasury secretaries and two acting secretaries.