Trump on Debt Crisis: Not My Problem

Trump on Debt Crisis: Not My Problem December 5, 2018

As I sit and watch the state funeral service of our 41st president, George H.W. Bush, I’m struck by the legacy he left, the people he touched, friendships made, and policies enacted with the intentions of making the nation and the world a better, freer place.

With that in mind, I’m jackhammered back to the present, and I have to wonder what will be the legacy of President Donald J. Trump?

It may still be too early to tell, especially through the heavy smoke of the ongoing Russia probe, trade wars, alienated allies, and emboldened geopolitical foes.

Considering that, I’m going to go ahead and call it: He’ll be considered the lowest point of the office of the U.S. presidency in modern history, if not all of our nation’s history.

Whatever wounds the Trump name carries into history, we can be certain that they will be wounds of his own making, and most deserved.

He is foul-mouthed, self-absorbed, arrogant, entitled, and grossly ignorant of the world around him – a deficit that only serves to cripple the effectiveness of the leader of the premiere world “superpower.”

Speaking of crippling, few things cripple a nation more than unsustainable debt.

The United States is currently shouldering over $21 trillion in debt, and the legs of the taxpayers are buckling under the weight.

President Trump has been advised since 2016 by the advisers surrounding him that our debt is an issue that requires attention.

He doesn’t care.

In fact, according to sources in the know, he’s more than willing to take the praise for tax cuts and a robust economy now, but when it all comes down, he figures he’ll be free of the crash. That will be on the next administration, so – so what?

The friction came to a head in early 2017 when senior officials offered Trump charts and graphics laying out the numbers and showing a “hockey stick” spike in the national debt in the not-too-distant future. In response, Trump noted that the data suggested the debt would reach a critical mass only after his possible second term in office.

“Yeah, but I won’t be here,” the president bluntly said, according to a source who was in the room when Trump made this comment during discussions on the debt.

In other words, he’s in it for the praise, but never intended to work for the good of this nation.

He doesn’t care about the debt. He has never mentioned it, or seemed overly concerned with it, according to those close to him.

I suppose we can write it off to him being really bad at math, but for the lack of a simple class in economics, our union suffers.

Then again, there are others that would suggest that he’s more concerned that he appears, choosing to address the matter in other ways.

Stephen Moore, a conservative economist at the Heritage Foundation and an economic adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign went the route of using the colorful charts to present the issue of debt to then-candidate Trump.

He assured the candidate that economic growth was the answer.

“That was why, when he was confronted with these nightmare scenarios on the debt, I think he rejected them, because if you grow the economy… you don’t have a debt problem,” Moore continued. “I know a few times when people would bring up the enormous debt, he would say, ‘We’re gonna grow our way out of it.’”

One current senior Trump administration official vented that Trump “doesn’t really care” about actually attacking the debt “crisis,” and prefers simply “jobs and growth, whatever that means.”

President Trump likes to tout his tax cuts, but tax cuts only mean less revenue coming in, when you don’t decrease spending, along with it.

Defense and discretionary spending has increased. Entitlement programs remain in place, with no real indicators that anything is going to change, in that area.

Marc Short, who formerly served as legislative affairs director for President Trump, claims the president is involved, and concerned with rising interest rates.

“But there’s no doubt this administration and this Congress need to address spending because we have out-of-control entitlement programs,” Short said, adding, “it’s fair to say that… the president would be skeptical of anyone who claims that they would know exactly when a [debt] crisis really comes home to roost.”

But he doesn’t think it will ever be his problem, or at least, a problem he has to deal with, directly. With that in mind, he just gives lip service.

The Washington Post recently reported that Trump had instructed his Cabinet to devise plans to trim their budgets in an effort to reduce the federal deficit. But Trump also set strict limits on what sorts of programs could be cut—and quickly proceeded to propose increased spending in other areas of the federal government.

“He understands the messaging of it,” the former senior White House official told The Daily Beast. “But he isn’t a doctrinaire conservative who deeply cares about the national debt, especially not on his watch… It’s not actually a top priority for him… He understands the political nature of the debt but it’s clearly not, frankly, something he sees as crucial to his legacy.”

The former Trump official adding, “It’s not like it’s going to haunt him.”

No. He’ll leave that to the rest of us.


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  • chemical

    The United States is currently shouldering over $21 trillion in debt, and the legs of the taxpayers are buckling under the weight.

    The thing that sucks about having this much debt is the interest. We should work on paying this down, because the more debt we have, the more interest we pay on it — and I shudder to think what happens if the interest payment per year becomes more than the US GDP. We’re throwing tons of money away, and the US government is getting less and less spending power per dollar because it’s going into interest payments.

    President Trump likes to tout his tax cuts, but tax cuts only mean less revenue coming in, when you don’t decrease spending, along with it.

    I want to thank you for recognizing this fact. Probably 90%+ of right wingers today think you increase revenue by lowering taxes, and they might have a case if the tax rate was over 70% or something.

  • TinnyWhistler

    t r i c k l e d o w n

  • chemical

    That reminds me: You know who first coined the term “voodoo economics” to describe the “lower taxes produce more money” magical thinking? George H. W. Bush.

  • It would seem the Republican Party tax cuts are nothing more than a means to continue enriching themselves and their lobbyists, as well as to placate voters while the public debt continues to explode under both parties. They are both quite adept at avoiding responsibility and kicking the can down the road for someone else to deal with it.

    In Thomas Paine’s ‘The Crisis’, he talks about a father who uttered these unfatherly words, “Well! give me peace in my day.” To that Paine argued:

    a generous parent should have said, “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace;” and this single reflection, well applied, is sufficient to awaken every man to duty.

    Likewise in our debt crisis we should say, “If we must have high taxes, let it be in our day so that our children are not forever enslaved by the accumulated debt of previous generations.” Of course without addressing the unconstitutional spending, which is largely responsible for the debt and continues to add to it, the debt will never get paid down no matter how many or high our taxes are.

    “And this is the tendency of all human governments. A departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for a second; that second for a third; and so on, till the bulk of the society is reduced to be mere automatons of misery, and to have no sensibilities left but for sinning and suffering. Then begins, indeed, the bellum omnium in omnia, which some philosophers observing to be so general in this world, have mistaken it for the natural, instead of the abusive state of man. And the fore horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression.” ~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Samuel Kercheval (1816)

  • Ellen Elmore

    I am not surprised that Trump doesn’t care about the national debt. No matter what happens to the rest of us, it won’t hurt him. He has to be the most selfish president in history.

  • JASmius

    Supply side economics is anything but “magical thinking”. It worked to a proverbial “t” in the 1980s. Reduce tax rates across the board and you offset a large portion of foregone revenue via increased economic activity incentivized by it. Indeed, capital gains tax rate reductions usually do pay for themselves.

    The difference between the 1980s and now is that the national debt is tenfold what it was then, and consequently far too large to grow our way out of. Which does not make the solution to tax ourselves to death, but to reform entitlement programs. That’s what’s propelling the debt. There is no other way.

  • JASmius

    Ah, leadership.

  • Brian Orion

    So how exactly is this buffoon preferable to Hillary or Obama, again? The debt is increasing faster than under Obama. Planned Parenthood still funded, no actual border security, most new jobs being Walmart and Uber, more sycophancy to Saudi Arabia than under Obama or the Bushes, unprecedented coddling of tyrants all over the world.

  • IllinoisPatriot

    If only we had some…..

  • chemical

    Reduce tax rates across the board and you offset a large portion of foregone revenue via increased economic activity incentivized by it.

    And this is the magical thinking I’m talking about. At 0% tax the government collects no money, and at 100% tax the government also collects no money because nobody will open a business. Whether or not the government gains or loses money by changing taxes depends on where the taxes currently are. Since our taxes are very low right now, lowering them further costs a lot of money, but doesn’t actually produce the economic growth to pay for the tax cut. This is obvious with Trump’s tax cut: Businesses used it for stock buybacks rather than raise wages. Basically the government spent a ton of money (by refusing to collect it) and got no economic growth in return. As a matter of fact, I’d say the tax cut hurt economic growth — the more money that’s in the hands of the middle class, the better the economy is, and the tax cuts didn’t put more money in middle class hands. It all went to the rich.

  • captcrisis

    Having gone through six bankruptcies, he probably thinks, If I bankrupt the country, we’ll get good lawyers to get us out of it and start again.

  • Kelly

    If I recall correctly, I heard him once say that we should just default on the debt and negotiate a better deal.

  • captcrisis

    I remember that too.

  • John225

    Trump = Modern monetary theory (MMT). MMT say’s deficits don’t matter because modern governments control the supply of their money. Trump comments about printing money make sense in the light of MMT. Problem with MMT, the Executive branch of the government doesn’t control the supply of money the Federal Reserve does, and it carefully balances the supply of money, as too much currency in circulation would lead to inflation, and too little would choke off economic activity. Higher rates of inflation usually mean higher counterbalancing interest rates which in turn mean higher debt servicing costs. Expect Trump to try and subordinate the Federal Reserve to him.

  • IllinoisPatriot

    I remember that also – along with his statement that believes a first-strike nuclear war is “winnable” (so we should consider a nuclear first strike against N. Korea) and that tariff wars are easy to win – especially with a financial genius like himself in charge.

  • John225

    The $21.3 trillion of public debt doesn’t include any unfunded liabilities or private debt. It breaks down to approximately $65,000/citizen or $176,000/taxpayer. At 3% interest rate debt servicing costs would be about $5300/taxpayer. With Trumps inflationary policy if interest rates reached double digits debt servicing cost would increase to more than $17,600/taxpayer. Government revenue is approximately $27,000/taxpayer. It wouldn’t take much of an interest rate hike to eat great holes in the government revenue which the government needs to provide services. Unfunded liabilities are about $116 trillion + $21 trillion public debt + $20 trillion private debt = $157 trillion liabilities. National assets are about $150 trillion. Of course, it is an over simplification but what is it called when someone’s liabilities exceed their assets?