Donald Trump – the king of U.S. debt? The national debt of the United States of America is currently $32 trillion. According to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, which maintains a real-time debt counter, America’s debt currently stands at $97,537 for every single person in the country. And the problem is only going to get worse – potentially far worse – before it will ever get even slightly better.
“Our deficits are caused mainly by predictable structural factors: our aging baby-boom generation, rising healthcare costs, and a tax system that does not bring in enough money to pay for what the government has promised its citizens,” the foundation noted.
Who exactly is responsible for all that debt? Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, Democrats and Republicans alike, are always quick to paint the other as the culprit. In an op-ed for The Daily Beast, last year, Brian Riedl suggested the fiscal irresponsibility of Trump bloated deficits more in four years than his predecessors – Barack Obama and George W. Bush – had done in eight.
In addition, this past May as lawmakers in Washington were sparring over raising the debt ceiling, journalist Aaron Rupar suggested via a tweet that former President Donald Trump raised the debt three times – and he added that 40 percent of our national debt was accumulated under Trump.
That isn’t quite accurate.
Donald Trump and Accumulated Debt, Explained
First, the term “accumulated” is the source of much confusion. It could be easy to assume that 40 percent of the total debt was now the result of Trump’s spending. And while Trump did oversee a 40 percent increase in the national debt during his presidency, there are some very important factors to consider.
While The Post, which cited Treasury Department data, reported that the debt approached World War II levels, it also stated that the former president inherited a $20 trillion debt when he took office, and that increased to $27.8 trillion when he left. That was an increase of 39 percent or $7.8 trillion. As ProPublica had noted, that increase was nearly twice as much as what Americans owe on student loans, car loans, credit cards, and every other type of debt other than mortgages, combined. It also amounted to $23,500 in new federal debt for every person in the country.
However, that is still less than the roughly $10.9 trillion – which is 40 percent of the debt level at the end of his term in office. As Newsweek reported, Trump also oversaw unprecedented spending in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, responding to the public health and economic emergency that the crises presented. Spending in the last 10 months of his time in office accounted for half – approximately $4.3 trillion – of that 40 percent increase.
Not the Most Debt Either
There have also been claims that Trump “ran up more debt than any other President in American history.” That would be incorrect, according to the Associated Press, which found that in terms of raw dollars, the total debt increased more under Obama, with Trump only in second place. Of course, as noted, Obama served eight years to Trump’s four.
But regardless of who is actually responsible, the fact remains the national debt keeps going up with each passing second, and that is something that impacts every citizen.
Author Experience and Expertise: A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.
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