Annual change in the U.S. federal debt-to-GDP ratio, and presidential term averages:
Source: CBO Current-Law Baseline
Ford had bad luck--his presidency coincided with a down phase of the business cycle. But other than Ford, the contrast between the Democrats and the old-style Republicans (Eisenhower and Nixon) on the one hand and the new-style Republicans on the other is quite striking.
Also worth noting is that after this recession is over we do not have a pre-2020 deficit problem--if output grows as projected, and if congress sticks to PAYGO, both of which are very big ifs.