The Corner

Fiscal Policy

Debt Blame-Shifting from Democrats

United States Capitol Building (rarrarorro/Getty Images)

If you listen to the president, not only will $3.5 trillion cost nothing, but Republicans are obligated to raise the debt limit even though they don’t control Congress and don’t support new spending.

Two new graphics went up today on the president’s Twitter account. One shows the debt increase for President Trump at $7.8 trillion, while the debt increase under Biden is only $678 billion. The second shows that President Trump is responsible for 28 percent of the debt in American history, while Biden would be responsible for only 2 percent. “The reason we have to raise the debt limit is—in part—because of the reckless tax and spend policies of the last Administration,” the tweet says.

“In part” is doing a lot of work in that sentence.

First things first: Nobody is saying that Donald Trump was a fiscal conservative. Donald Trump wouldn’t say that Donald Trump was a fiscal conservative. He did add $7.8 trillion to the debt while he was president, more than any previous president, and $7.8 trillion is 28 percent of the total debt this country has accumulated. He ruled out reforming the driver of the debt — mandatory entitlement spending — on the campaign trail and kept that promise while in office (it’s significantly easier to keep your word when you promise to not make hard decisions).

Before Donald Trump, Barack Obama added more to the debt than any previous president, and George W. Bush added more to the debt than any president before him. Both parties have been spending like drunken sailors for quite some time.

But ask yourself: Would the debt be higher or lower today if Democrats controlled Congress and the White House the past four years?

Democrats consistently called for more spending than Republicans wanted throughout the Trump administration. As Brian Riedl wrote for NR Capital Matters in December last year, the Left tries to have it both ways with criticizing Republicans about the debt. We saw this happen during COVID. As Riedl wrote, “Many liberals demanded that Republicans shoot a $3 trillion bazooka at the COVID-19 recession last spring — and continue to demand trillions more — and then attack the ‘Republican deficits’ that result.”

That $3 trillion bazooka, the HEROES Act, was passed by the Democrat-controlled House and never voted on by the Republican-controlled Senate. Mitch McConnell was hectored by Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, and every progressive activist group under the sun for his failure to bring the act to the floor for a vote. He stood firm, and the Senate passed a smaller package that President Trump signed into law.

During COVID, Republicans consistently wanted less spending than Democrats did, even with a Republican in the White House. Yes, Republicans spent a lot of money, but we know Democrats would have spent more. They passed legislation that said they would.

All of that history is a distraction from what’s going in the present. As Phil pointed out when this whole “costs nothing” nonsense started, we shouldn’t even believe Democrats’ claims that the spending is paid for. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation’s estimates, their revenue proposals are about $1.5 trillion short. They told us the bipartisan infrastructure deal would be paid for, but it came up short, too. Their reconciliation instructions allow for $1.75 trillion to be added to the debt.

Democrats want seven and a half times more stimulus to “build back better” from the COVID recession than the federal government provided after the much more severe Great Recession. That’s on them, and if they want to pass it, they can raise the debt limit to do so.

Recommended

The Latest