Trump added $8.4 trillion to the national debt: Analysis

Trump added $8.4 trillion to the national debt: Analysis

Tax cuts and pandemic relief measures enacted during the Trump administration added $8.4 trillion to the national debt over the 10-year budget window, according to a study released Wednesday by a top budget watchdog group.

Discretionary spending increases from 2018 and 2019 added $2.1 trillion, Trump’s signature Tax Cuts and Jobs Act added $1.9 trillion and the 2020 bipartisan CARES Act for pandemic relief added another $1.9 trillion, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), a Washington think tank, found in a study released earlier this month.

“Of the $8.4 trillion President Trump added to the debt, $3.6 trillion came from COVID relief laws and executive orders, $2.5 trillion from tax cut laws, and $2.3 trillion from spending increases, with the remaining executive orders having costs and savings that largely offset each other,” budget experts with the CRFB wrote in a summary of the report.

The only significant deficit reduction enacted by the Trump administration noted in the report was due to tariffs levied on a variety of imported goods, which are calculated to have brought  in $445 billion over 10 years.

Questions about the budgetary effects of Trump’s fiscal policies have been a point of debate during the ongoing Republican primary. Both former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who dropped out of the race Sunday, have criticized the former president’s willingness to add to the deficit.

While Haley remains in the race, Trump outperformed her in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary by more than 10 percentage points and appears on track to clinch his third GOP presidential nomination.

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The Biden administration has also passed several pieces of deficit-expanding legislation, including an infrastructure bill that added $256 billion to the deficit and a bill to increase domestic semiconductor production that added $79 billion.

The administration’s signature environmental and health care package, known as the Inflation Reduction Act, reduced the deficit by between $200 billion and $300 billion.

The U.S. deficit ballooned after the pandemic to more than 130 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) but has since subsided to around 120 percent. That new plateau is still significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels, which hovered around 100 percent of GDP between 2012 and 2020.

The U.S. debt, which stands at about $34 trillion, has been a major focus for Republicans, who have pushed for steep spending cuts after taking control of the House in January 2023.

Partisan standoffs over the U.S. debt and spending cuts nearly forced a default on outstanding U.S. debt last summer before an agreement was reached to raise the debt ceiling. Threats to shut down the government over the deficit have also proliferated in the split Congress.

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