Trump And The GOP Have Continually Lied About The Budget Deficit And The Economy
President Trump and the Republican Party have spent the last three years lying about the Federal budget deficit and the economy.
JM Rieger at The Washington Post catalogs the extent to which the Trump Administration and the Republican Party on Capitol Hill have repeatedly misrepresented the state of federal spending and the national debt. In that regard, Rieger provides some examples of this deficit double-talk:
In March 2017, Vice President Pence said Trump did not want a budget that would increase the deficit. Two months later, the White House proposed a budget that the Congressional Budget Office said would increase the deficit.
In June 2018, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the deficit was “coming down rapidly” (it wasn’t); he later clarified that future deficits would be lower. Since then, the federal deficit has grown to the fifth-highest level in U.S. history.
And 17 months after then-budget director Mick Mulvaney said that deficit spending was needed to grow the economy, acting budget director Russell Vought told reporters in March that deficit spending was not needed to grow the economy. Over that time, the United States added approximately $1.7 trillion to the debt.
In March 2016, Trump himself promised to eliminate the entire national debt in eight years when it was at $19.2 trillion and made up approximately 76 percent of GDP. Today, it is over $22 trillion and on track to account for 79 percent of GDP in fiscal 2019. Trump’s own fiscal 2020 budget projects that by 2025, debt held by the public will be over 50 percent higher than the year he took office.
Much the same can be said about GOP and Trump Administration claims about economic growth:
The White House and Republicans defend the $1.5 trillion tax cut by saying the cuts will spur 3 percent annual economic growth that will increase tax revenue, even with lower tax rates. Neither have happened.
Average GDP growth over the past four quarters is 2.2 percent. And even when GDP growth picked up in 2018, federal revenue lagged, as happened with the tax cuts under presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.
And as Trump refers to his economy as the strongest in history, his top economic adviser says the economy needs more time to grow before deficits decrease from increased revenue.
“I just need another couple of years — and I said this at the time — to let the revenues fill in if we get the kind of growth that we are hoping for,” Kudlow said in June, nearly one year after predicting lower deficits from higher growth.
Meanwhile, annual GDP growth remains below 3 percent.
This isn’t exactly news, of course, and it comes at the same time that House Republicans are apparently believing that they can win back control of the House by concentrating on budget deficits and the national debt. As I noted just last week, the Federal Budget Deficit will be more than a trillion dollars for the first time since the years immediately after the Great Recession. Crossing this line hardly comes as a surprise given the fact we’ve been on this course since Republicans took control of the House, Senate, and Presidency after the 2016 election. When the final budget deal for Fiscal Year 2019 was put forward in mid-February of last year, for example, it included massive spending increases in almost every budget category and busted through the controls that had been put in place during the Obama Administration.
As The New York Times noted at the time, this effectively means that Republicans have learned to love the deficits and debt they once claimed to abhor. This is the same Republican Party, which had spent the Obama years lecturing Washington about spending and deficits. In the Trump Era. that same party has become the party of deficits and debt. By April of last year, the Congressional Budget Office had officially forecast that we’d be seeing trillion dollars deficits by the end of Fiscal Year 2019 and just a few months later, the national debt crossed a new benchmark and was north of $21 trillion. According to the latest figures, the national debt, which stood at $19.9 trillion on the day President Trump took office, now stands at $22.6 trillion. (Source)
As for the economic growth numbers, the President and Republicans have been just as wrong as they were about the budget. While there have been some quarters of very positive economic growth in excess of 3.0% growth, just as there were during President Obama’s second term in office, average economic growth since President Trump took office has been roughly the same as it was under President Obama. This can be seen most recently in the fact that economic growth for the second quarter that ended in June came back at just +2.0% in the Commerce Department’s final estimate for the period from April to June. This comes amid estimates that show slowing growth heading into the 2020 election. The idea that the Trump Administration has turned the economy around, therefore, is another lie.
The irony of all this, of course, is the fact that the Republican Party apparently thinks it can win back control of the House by focusing on budget deficits, economic growth, and health care reform. The fact that they have failed on the first two fronts, and utterly failed to deliver on the final front when they controlled Congress. Given that they they have proven that they cannot be trusted to control spending, have done nothing to help stimulate economic growth, and have not delivered on health care reform, why should the voters trust them with holding the reins of power again?