Donald Trump’s latest accusations against the White House include that of abusing the red pen.
At his rally in Virginia Beach on September 6th, Trump informed his supporters, “Barack Obama has doubled, during his fairly short period of years, he’s doubled our national debt. Doubled it. It’s going to be close to $20 trillion when he leaves.”
The figures on this are true. According to the U.S. Treasury Department’s “The Debt to the Penny”, the national debt is currently just under $19.5 trillion. When Obama took office on January 20th, 2009, the national debt stood at $10.6 trillion.
An Allocation of Blame
The problem with this remark is that the debt is not authorized by Obama alone. Spending bills must pass through Congress first, meaning that any budget hikes are the partial responsibility of every House representative and every Senate member. Throughout most of Obama’s administration, the House has been controlled by Republicans, where all spending bills must originate. The 112th and 113th Congressional assemblies can boast the worst approval ratings in history, mostly due to the 112th being the least productive in history and the 113th letting the government shutdown. The last year and a half, both houses have been Republican led, with the largest majority in more than 80 years. To say that the federal budget is Obama’s control is to undermine the power of hundreds of Republican congresspeople.
Still, this assertion has been a common card Trump pulls again and again, even making the cut into Trump’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. Vice President pick Mike Pence has also marched this fact out on occasion.
A Blind Claim
Experts have accused the pair of ignoring context as well. Obama took office during the Great Recession, when the economy was in “free-fall”, according to Neil Buchanan, a law professor at George Washington University. He told ABC News 15: “Tax revenues were plummeting, because incomes were falling, while spending had to go up (for unemployment benefits, Medicaid, and so on). Had we tried to balance the budget during that time, it would have accelerated the downturn, and there could have been a depression.”
Politifact Arizona ended up giving Trump’s claim a “Mostly True” rating due to the fact that the numbers do indeed add up. But there is more to the story, as reported Politifact Wisconsin back in July when Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) placed the blame on Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama specifically in his speech on the first night of the RNC. Robert Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition, a centrist advocacy group, explained due to the recession, it couldn’t be helped: “The debt would have exploded certainly during (Obama’s) first term, no matter who was president.”
Trump’s Budget Platform
When asked for his plans to manage debt, Trump has asserted he will bring back jobs from Mexico and China, close tax loopholes and shut down tax havens, stay strong on the debt limit, and grow the economy by 6 percent by ending “corporate inversions”. He also aims to cut spending by eliminating the Department of Education and the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as cutting the “waste, fraud, and abuse” that so bloats the defense budget. He has previously proposed a one-time wealth tax to eliminate the national debt.