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?

FILED UNDER: Congress, Deficit and Debt, Donald Trump, Politicians, Taxes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. An Interested Party says:
  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Here Doug, let me fix that headline for you: Trump And The GOP Have Continually Lied About Everything.

    Just ’cause I like you.

    16
  3. Teve says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: there’s value in focusing on recent specific lies, without necessarily having to discuss the overall multigenerational scam of GOP economics.

    4
  4. gVOR08 says:

    As The New York Times noted at the time, this effectively means that Republicans have learned to love the deficits and debt

    NYT is wrong. They don’t love the deficit. It’s likeTrump and the truth, they just don’t care. And they may be right that they can run on the deficit. Lying got them this far.

    9
  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    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.

    We have been on this course for a long time, ever since Reagan and his cronies first sold the idea that tax cuts increase revenues thru a supercharged economy back in the ’80s and it has perpetrated time and again ever since. This is just the latest version of that long con and the suckers…. I mean the American electorate, keep coming back for more.

    They want a free lunch and by god they’re gonna get one!

    10
  6. Teve says:

    @gVOR08: “You know, Paul, Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter.” is a quote from 2004.

    5
  7. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    I think you overstate the case a little. Republicans have learned to love Republican deficits and Republican debt. They still hate Democratic Party deficits and debt just fine. Moreover, considering the “borrow and spend” practices of the GOP over most of my lifetime, the argument can be made that they’ve never cared about the economy except as a political tool to bash the other party.

    7
  8. mattbernius says:

    The silence from the Tea Party as Trump’s tariff created farm bailout more than doubled the auto bailout is frankly deafening.

    https://theweek.com/speedreads/866567/trumps-farmer-bailout-already-more-than-twice-expensive-obamas-automaker-bailout

    12
  9. Jen says:

    @mattbernius: JFC that is maddening. The auto bailout wasn’t even created by Obama yet he garnered all that Tea Party screeching.

    The trade war *that Trump instigated* is the reason for the bailout and it’s twice as expensive? Tea Party hypocrites.

    11
  10. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @mattbernius:
    @Jen:
    It’s not just that it is way more than double…it’s that the auto bailout actually did something…it got the car companies back on their feet and made them sustainable again. The farmer bailout does nothing…when that $28B is gone the markets won’t be back and there won’t be any new markets developed. Exports will still be in the dumper. This is just a cash give-away…which Republicans used to hate…and a give-away that has Chuck Grassley is happily pocketing his share.

    10
  11. Teve says:

    Those midwestern farmers who get Trump’s welfare cash are white so it’s perfectly fine.

    7
  12. Hal_10000 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    We have been on this course for a long time, ever since Reagan and his cronies first sold the idea that tax cuts increase revenues thru a supercharged economy back in the ’80s and it has perpetrated time and again ever since.

    Except that Reagan subsequently raised taxes multiple times to try to deal with the deficit. The Laffer Curve is not completely wrong, but the idea that tax cuts pay for themselves only works when you are at very high levels of taxation.

    I wouldn’t say the the GOP is lying about the deficits. I would say they are BSing. They don’t actually care anymore what’s true. They say whatever matters on that particular day to that particular pundit.

    13
  13. gVOR08 says:

    @Hal_10000: Correct. And Laffer was conceptually correct. Laffer made two mistakes. Well, pushed a con on two points. First, he had nothing new, economists have known since forever that beyond a certain point increased rates bring in less revenue. Second, economists knew that for the income tax, revenue peaked at about a 75% marginal rate. Which is, not coincidentally, where Kennedy cut it. And about double the current top rate.

    Kennedy’s error, which Laffer repeats, was believing the only goal was to raise revenue. A 90% marginal rate also cut down on accumulated wealth, a necessary goal, one worth losing a little revenue over.

    7
  14. Kit says:

    why should the voters trust them with holding the reins of power again?

    Why? Because the Republican base is mostly composed of rubes. However, I suspect that some, such such as our resident trolls, know that culture wars are neither cheap nor easy to win, and that funnelling money to the rich is the price to pay.

    3
  15. DrDaveT says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    The farmer bailout does nothing…when that $28B is gone the markets won’t be back and there won’t be any new markets developed. Exports will still be in the dumper. This is just a cash give-away…

    If you want Republicans to hate the farmer bailout, alert them that many of those farmers are brown people.

    5
  16. DrDaveT says:

    Given that [Republicans] 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?

    For the same reason they have been trusting them for years now, Doug — because they get their information from propaganda sources that lie relentlessly about what is going on.

    I don’t think you have yet grasped the extent to which the GOP has given up on truth. Faced with an existential crisis, in which people would stop voting for them if they knew the truth, they have committed all of their resources to making sure as many people as possible don’t know the truth, and substituting brazen fabrications that demonize Democrats. This is the source of their unshakeable base support, and they know it.

    If a foreign government launched a comparable disinformation campaign against US citizens, we would consider it an act of war.

    9
  17. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @mattbernius: Yeah but this time it’s about humble workers of the soil, providing our cities with blah, blah, blah. Obama’s The auto bailout was about saving a bunch of high wage blue collar jobs, and we can’t be doing that. We experimented with this in the 60s and 70s. Those people started thinking they were just as good as you and me. Worse than that, they started sending their kids to university so that their kids could have the jobs nature intended for your and my kids. This is completely different. This bailout will keep those kids on their farm where they belong.

    2
  18. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: And I forgot that farmers are majority white whereas blue collar workers aren’t–particularly after the EEO Act. Thanks reminding me! 😛

    1
  19. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @gVOR08:

    Kennedy’s error, which Laffer repeats, was believing the only goal was to raise revenue.

    Easy mistake for Kennedy to have made though. By the 1960s, wealth distribution was significantly improved and the minimum wage was entering its best purchasing power period of our lifetimes. Easy to think “whew, glad we’ve solved this problem; what’s the next one?”

    Laffer, on the other hand…

    3
  20. Just nutha ignint cracker says:
  21. mattbernius says:

    @Jen & @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    It’s also worth noting that the auto “bailout” had to be paid back with interest.

    @DrDaveT:
    To @Just nutha ignint cracker point,
    “Nearly 100 percent of Trump funds designed to help farmers went to white farmers”
    https://grist.org/article/trump-trade-war-usda-farmer-subsidy-race-disparity/

    So yeah, they know that they’re doing… I’d love to get a breakdown of how many proud Tea Party patriots decided to take those funds…

    4
  22. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Except that Reagan subsequently raised taxes multiple times to try to deal with the deficit.

    I knew somebody was going to bring that up, and it’s true, Reagan did take part in raising taxes back up. But I well remember his railing against Carter’s $60 billion deficit during the campaign and how he was gonna fix it and he exploded it to $180 billion (boy, don’t those numbers sound quaint?) so I don’t give him all that much credit attempting to undo at least some of the tripling of the deficit he was a part of.

    The snake oil he was selling then is the same snake oil they are selling now. The only lesson the GOP learned from all that was to never surrender the low taxes ground. Grover Norquist owns the fiscal souls of the GOP.

    The Laffer Curve is not completely wrong, but the idea that tax cuts pay for themselves only works when you are at very high levels of taxation.

    Yes, and in my 60+ years we have never been at those levels of taxation, not even close. That has never stopped the GOP tho. If you asked a Republican, any Republican, tax cuts work wonders on just about anything, even stains.

    4
  23. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @mattbernius:

    It’s also worth noting that the auto “bailout” had to be paid back with interest.

    Also noteworthy, it was paid off early.

    3
  24. Moosebreath says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    “The auto bailout was about saving a bunch of high wage blue collar jobs, and we can’t be doing that.”

    You left out an important word. Hint, it rhymes with schmunion.

    1
  25. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Moosebreath: My bad! 🙁 (But really, how many high-wage blue collar jobs have there ever been that weren’t schmunion jobs?)

    1
  26. DrDaveT says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    May not be as many brown farmers as one might think.

    Sorry, I should have put ‘alert’ in scare quotes. Remember, these are Trumpists — the facts are irrelevant. If Fox News tells them that 84% of farmers receiving aid from the bailout are Guatemalan, they’ll believe it — and be outraged.

    2
  27. Barry says:

    Doug: ” In the Trump Era. that same party has become the party of deficits and debt. ”

    The GOP did so in the early 1980’s, which was over 35 years ago.

    I’m amazed at just how long this undeserved reputation has lasted.

    2
  28. Tyrell says:

    The economy here as far as compared to six to eight years ago is like night and day. Then people were waiting in long lines to apply for jobs at McDonald’s and shoe stores. Now the businesses are recruiting people on the phone, mail, and door flyers. I get several job recruiting phone calls a week. And these are not grunge jobs that pay minimum wage. The street maintenance is offering $14/hr to start, $18/hr after three months. That is getting up there with starting teacher pay. It’s “help wanted, start immediately” signs everywhere. I go into businesses and they start asking if I need a job.
    Textile mills have reopened after being shuttered for years: three shifts. The county is in a boom: houses and apartments going up everywhere. People are moving out from the high taxes and traffic in the cities.
    Things may not be perfect, but I will take it. And so is everyone else.
    Some areas may well be having trouble: Illinois is losing people by the thousands a week. This, the cause of raising taxes to pay for government benefits that are way above the private sector.
    I do worry some about the retail sector. We have lost some retailers. Sears was a shock; the government should have done something. They helped GM. Sears is an icon.

    1
  29. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Tyrell:

    The street maintenance is offering $14/hr to start, $18/hr after three months. That is getting up there with starting teacher pay.

    Wow! Where do you live? I had a starting teacher salary higher than that in 1994. And I was still making 20% less than I had in my last previous full-time job (I was working in one of those horrible socialist union shop places). Yikes!

    2
  30. An Interested Party says:

    The saddest thing about all of this is that the saps who have allowed themselves to be fooled by Republican bullshit will continue to allow themselves to be fooled…like, at this point, only idiots and liars can say that Trump did nothing wrong in that phone call…

  31. Matt says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: When Obama was president it was Tyrell’s thing to talk about how the only jobs being created are door to door vacuum salesmen and some other equally dumb things. So I’m not surprised at all to see him doing the opposite now.. or at least trying.

    @Tyrell:

    Illinois is losing people by the thousands a week. This, the cause of raising taxes to pay for government benefits that are way above the private sector.
    I do worry some about the retail sector.

    Overall I pay more yearly in state based fees and taxes in Texas than I did in Illinois. Sure Texas doesn’t have an income tax but they have 3x the fees and fees for fees it’s stupid…

    1
  32. wr says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Tyrell lives in a magical place where 90 year-olds are offered multiple jobs whenever they walk into a business and textile mills are running around the clock. You could think of it as “Trumplandia,” but I prefer to call it Bullshit Island.

    3