Under President Donald Trump, both the national debt and the annual budget deficit have reached all time highs, despite his 2016 campaign promises to eliminate both. Rather than concede another broken promise, his Republican defenders in the Senate are now claiming that he will solve both — next term.
Candidate Donald Trump made a lot of unrealistic promises. His oft repeated and now abandoned mantra that Mexico would entirely fund a massive border wall across the nation’s entire southern border is the best known, but he also made numerous lofty promises to magically eliminate the $19 trillion national debt and to get rid of the budget deficit almost immediately.
From his 2015 campaign kickoff speech, Trump promised that he would make the debt disappear. “I think I could do it fairly quickly, because of the fact the numbers,” he told the Washington Post in 2016. “I would say over a period of eight years.” Trump said he could do this without even raising taxes because of the spectacular trade deals that he uniquely would be able to negotiate if elected.
The national debt is now more than $22.5 trillion, several trillion higher than when Trump took office. Trump has claimed to have the “greatest economy in the history of our country,” but thanks to a massive tax cut for corporations and the wealthiest Americans, the annual budget deficit is about to exceed $1 trillion for the first time ever (even without purchasing Greenland) years before analysts expected.
Trump recently signed a budget deal — agreed to by the GOP-controlled Senate — that further increased spending, despite his campaign promise to freeze the budget and despite promising last year that he would “never sign another bill” with big spending increases again. Should the widely-predicted economic downturn happen, that would mean even less revenue, which would make spending cuts even more difficult.
According to a Washington Post report on Friday, Trump and his allies have arrived at a solution to the problem: pretending that it will all be fixed in Trump’s second term.
The article notes that Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-SD) recently suggested to the New York Times that Trump’s deficit reduction efforts might come as soon as 2021. “I hope in a second term, he is interested,” he suggested. “With his leadership, I think we could start dealing with that crisis. And it is a crisis.”
Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) told the Times: “We’ve brought it up with President Trump, who has talked about it being a second-term project.” And Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) added that “it probably takes a second-term president” to prioritize debt reduction.
Back in July, the Post noted, leaks from the White House gave the impression that in a second Trump term, spending cuts and deficit reduction would be coming.
Trump’s track record with debt, however, would suggest that this promise, too, is unlikely to be kept.