He voted for the 2017 tax cuts for billionaires that helped increase the national debt by $7.8 trillion during Donald Trump's time in office.
On Tuesday morning, during Janet Yellen's confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee for the post of Secretary of the Treasury, Sen. John Thune (R-SD) expressed his concerns about the soaring national debt — the debt he and the Republican Party under Donald Trump helped usher in with 2017's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
"When is it too much?" asked Thune, of accruing debt when necessary for government expenditures.
"It's essential we put the federal budget on a path that’s sustainable," Yellen said, noting that she supports spending increases when they yield beneficial long-term results, particularly when it comes to COVID relief.
Thune also told Yellen he was troubled by the "massive amount of debt that we continue to rack up," noting that "we seem to have no concern" about it.
Back in September of last year, Thune also blamed Democrats for the soaring national debt.
While addressing legislation introduced by Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) intended to address the national debt crisis, known as the TRUST Act, Thune said: "Bipartisan legislation like this would be a good start to prevent our country from facing an economic crisis in the coming decades."
"The Republican senators sponsoring the legislation were joined by a handful of Democrats, which gives me hope that perhaps not all my Democrat colleagues are determined to explode our national debt with their socialist fantasies," he added. "Unfortunately, too many Democrats — including Democrats vice presidential candidate — are open to bankrupting Americans with the Green New Deal and other plans.
But the national debt has ballooned under the Republican administration of Donald Trump — to "historic" levels, according to a ProPublica report.
"The national debt has risen by almost $7.8 trillion during Trump’s time in office," the report notes. "That's 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, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It amounts to about $23,500 in new federal debt for every person in the country."
Trump campaigned on a promise to eradicate the national debt during his time in office, a promise on which he notably didn't deliver.
Instead, it soared to astronomical levels.
In early 2019, when the national debt reached $22 trillion, Trump referred to it as a "grave threat to our economic and social prosperity," but his 2020 budget proposal still included plans that could only increase it. It hit $23.2 trillion by the end of 2019, according to ProPublica.
In January of 2020, just before the pandemic hit, Congressional Budget Office Director Philip Swagel said, "Not since World War II has the country seen deficits during times of low unemployment that are as large as those that we project — nor, in the past century, has it experienced large deficits for as long as we project."
The pandemic only worsened the situation; the national debt currently sits at 130% of the GDP.
And Thune himself voted for Trump's 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that not only benefited the rich but caused the national debt to skyrocket — and was one of the champions of pushing the legislation through.
He even told a local radio station that the cuts would erase the deficit. Instead, it soared 28% between 2018 and 2019, with economists faulting Trump's 2017 tax cuts.
"Funny how Trump and Republicans can find the money to give corporations and billionaires massive tax cuts, but when it comes to canceling student debt, that's a bridge too far," said Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor, said of the cuts at the time.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.