Trump frequently hammered Obama and Clinton over the national debt, but those concerns seemed to vanish as soon as he took office.
For years, Donald Trump hammered President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee, and everyone else in Washington, D.C., for the national debt, vowing to "quickly" balance the budget and to eliminate the debt completely within eight years, if elected president.
On Tuesday, CBS News reported that, since Trump took office, the national debt has actually increased by $3 trillion, fueled in large part by his massive tax cut for the rich and corporations.
"In nearly three years, it rose 15% — from $19.9 trillion to $22.9 trillion, according to the latest numbers from the Treasury Department," the report noted. Despite what Trump has repeatedly called "the greatest economy in history," the Trump tax cuts have meant less revenue while spending has increased.
As early as 2012, Trump was complaining about the growing national debt. "With all the talk of fiscal responsibility" at the Democratic National Convention, he tweeted, "it was ironic that the debt passed $16T."
"Congratulations to Barack Obama for having 2012's debt already surpass 2011," he tweeted that October.
Congratulations to Barack Obama for having 2012's debt already surpass 2011 http://t.co/0Fok04gl
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 3, 2012
When he became a 2016 candidate, he began to spread the blame for the growing debt between Obama and his former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who had virtually no role in fiscal policy during the Obama's term and no role at all in his second. Clinton, of course, was Trump's election rival at the time and favored to win the presidency.
"Obama-Clinton inherited $10 [trillion] in debt and turned it into nearly $20T," he tweeted in January 2016.
In a linked Instagram video, he added, "Debt for this country is a disaster, and Obama has piled it on, and [Clinton] has been there watching."
Trump also argued frequently that as a non-politician who had "experience with debt," he alone could fix the problem.
"We can’t send another politician to the White House," he tweeted in July 2015.
Though he lacked any real plan to balance the budget, Trump took credit for the fact that Obama left him a better economy than he had inherited from President George W. Bush in 2009, claiming in February 2017 that the media had "not reported that the National Debt in my first month went down by $12 billion vs a $200 billion increase in Obama first mo.[sic]"
Later that year, he claimed that gains in the stock market were somehow offsetting the national debt.
"So they borrowed more than $10 trillion, right? And yet we picked up $5.2 trillion just in the stock market. Possibly picked up the whole thing in terms of the first nine months, in terms of value," he told Fox News. "So you could say, in one sense, we’re really increasing values. And maybe in a sense we're reducing debt. But we're very honored by it."
Soon after, Trump mostly stopped talking about the debt as he pushed through a tax cut predicted to increase it by about $1.9 trillion over a decade. He made an exception in July, blaming former Vice President Joe Biden for Obama's increases.
Last month, Trump urged the Federal Reserve to set interest rates at or below zero so the nation could "start to refinance our debt." But he has taken no action to reign in the deficit or the debt and shows no signs of keeping his promise to eliminate either.
Trump ironically called himself the "king of debt," tweeting in 2016 that debt had been "great for me as a businessman, but is bad for the country."
"I made a fortune off of debt, will fix U.S.," he wrote.
A December 2017 analysis predicted that Trump would personally save somewhere between $11 million and $15 million annually under the GOP tax cut he himself pushed.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.