Do you remember when Donald Trump said he was going to get rid of the national debt? He did. In fact, he said he could do it “fairly quickly.”
Well, I’m still waiting.
On the campaign trail back in 2016, the president said the national debt was a problem that he was going to address.
“We’re not a rich country. We’re a debtor nation … We’ve got to get rid of the $19 trillion in debt,” Trump told The Washington Post. “I think I could do it fairly quickly. … I would say over a period of eight years.”
Well, three years into his first term, the national debt has increased by more than 14 percent.
When President Trump took office in January 2017, the debt stood at $19.95 trillion. Last February, the national debt topped $22 trillion. That represented a $2.06 trillion increase in the debt in just over two years. According to the latest Treasury Department numbers, the national debt currently stands at $22.84 trillion and climbing.
Maybe this is one of those Nancy Pelosi kinds of things – we have to increase the debt before we lower it. Or something.
The pace of borrowing and spending since Trump took office has accelerated and has reached levels unprecedented for a time of economic expansion. The kind of borrowing we’re seeing today has historically been reserved for major economic recessions.
According to the Congressional Budget Office estimate, the FY2019 budget deficit came in just a hair under $1 trillion at $984 billion. That amounts to 4.7 percent of GDP, the highest percentage since 2012. It would be the fourth consecutive year in which the deficit increased as a percentage of GDP. The debt-to-GDP ratio is estimated to have increased a hefty 26 percent over last year.
The federal government has only run deficits over $1 trillion four times, all during the Great Recession. We’re approaching that number today, despite having what Trump keeps calling “the greatest economy in the history of America.”
Trump apologists will undoubtedly make excuses for the president. They’ll say it’s not his fault. They’ll tell me Congress approves the spending. Nevermind the fact that fellow-Republicans completely controlled Congres for two of the last three years, Trump inked his signature on every single spending bill – including the bipartisan deal passed by Congress in July that suspended the debt ceiling and increased both domestic and military spending.
And didn’t the president say that erasing the debt would be “easy?” I’m assuming Trump knew that Congress passed spending bills when he made that statement.
The fact is Trump never intended to address the national debt. His campaign rhetoric was nothing but a regurgitation of Republican talking points to get the GOP base all frothy. And when Republicans say they care about spending, they are full of crap. They say it every election cycle and then they get in office and spend money just like Democrats. If you still believe what any politician tells you on the campaign trail, you are out of your mind.
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