Trump Wants Credit for Cutting the National Debt
New York: President Donald Trump asked on Twitter why the media hasn’t reported that the national debt has dropped since his inauguration. One explanation, some economists said: Trump couldn’t have had anything to do with it. “Anything that has happened to the debt has been on autopilot since Obama left,” said Laurence Kotlikoff, an economics professor at Boston University. “If anything, he is taking credit for something Obama did.”
The president took to Twitter on Saturday morning to say that the national debt declined by $12 billion in his first month in office compared with a $200 billion increase in Barack Obama’s first month in office. The tweet followed a Fox News segment on which former presidential candidate Herman Cain made the same statement. Trump’s numbers are accurate. The national debt of $19.9 trillion did decrease $12 billion — sixhundredths of 1% — from his first day in office until his 30th. It’s also true the debt fluctuates by billions of dollars each day, and the current spending and tax revenue levels that drive those short-term variances were set by the last administration. Trump hasn’t had a chance in his first weeks to change the level of revenue collected through higher taxes or cut federal spending through a new budget.
The $14.4 billion in debt held by the public, rather than as securities in government trust funds, was $94 million lower on February 21 than on January 20, when Trump was inaugurated. But the following day, the debt level popped back up more than $1 billion due to regular changes in spending and revenue.