Republicans pride themselves on fiscal responsibility. Or at least they used to. Since President Trump found his way into the party’s bloodstream, conservative lawmakers have only been able to pay lip service to the crisis, which is growing worse despite a robust economy. On Tuesday, the Treasury Department reported that the national debt has for the first time eclipsed $22 trillion, up from $19.9 trillion when Trump took office.
The president doesn’t seem as concerned as he was when President Obama was in office.
Our debt is about to top $17T. ObamaCare and China (& others) are killing American business.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 24, 2013
So many problems in the U.S. and leadership that is hopeless…and now, on top of everything else, we just hit $18 trillion in debt!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 14, 2014
With America's debt topping $21T by the end of his presidency, Obama will have effectively bankrupted our country. @davidaxelrod
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 10, 2015
The national debt did indeed skyrocket under Obama. Ten years ago, the United States owed only $10.6 trillion, but the government decided that the financial crisis necessitated increased spending, causing the debt to balloon. Republicans were critical, and during the 2016 campaign Trump promised he would eliminate the debt “over a period of eight years.” This isn’t going to happen. Despite inheriting a healthy economy, the debt has risen by over $2 trillion since Trump took office, thanks to the $1.5 trillion tax cut for the rich Congress passed in the fall of 2017, as well as exorbitant defense spending. Last summer, the Congressional Budget Office noted in a report that, at 78 percent, the ratio of the debt to the GDP was at its highest level since World War II. The office said in January that it estimates the number will rise to 93 percent by 2030, barring changes in federal law.
"The huge increase in the national debt demanded by and incurred during the current Administration has placed a significant burden on future generations." – 2016 GOP Platform
Avg annual debt increase under Obama: $1.1 trillion
Avg annual debt increase under Trump: $1.2 trillion
— Donny Ferguson 🗽 (@DonnyFerguson) February 13, 2019
The Trump administration has responded with a shrug. When Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney was asked last week why the president didn’t mention the national deficit in his State of the Union address, Mulvaney reportedly said “nobody cares.” By “nobody,” Mulvaney may just mean Trump. In December, the Daily Beast reported that the president isn’t worried about the debt crisis despite pleas from advisers to take it seriously. When confronted with charts explaining the severity of the situation in 2017, the president brushed it off as something that wouldn’t affect the United States until after he left office.
“Yeah,” the president said of the looming crisis, “but I won’t be here.”