The candidates have proposed many plans to spend or save billions of dollars. But, according to an analysis by a debt watchdog group, neither of them has a plan to fully fund their changes, meaning they would need to borrow to make up the difference.

Each on the chart below is equal to $1 billion of new debt accrued over the next 10 years to make up the difference.

Additional debt with each plan

CLINTON

$200

billion

$150B

UNFUNDED POLICIES

$50B

INTEREST

Clinton increases spending by $1.65 trillion, but her plan also raises $1.5 trillion in new taxes, so she adds $150 billion to the debt, plus interest on the new money she’ll need to borrow to fund her programs.

TRUMP

$5.3

trillion

TAX CUT

$4.5T

These boxes represent the major contributor to Trump’s additional debt: $4.5 trillion in tax cuts.

 

Trump promised his plan would not add at all to the national debt in a September speech, but there’s little evidence that’s possible.

 

He hasn’t proposed enough spending changes to account for the significantly lower income for the federal government.

 

Trump’s campaign insists that his entire economic plan, including tax cuts, deregulation and major changes in trade policy, would supercharge the economy. But most analysts are skeptical that the plan could produce enough growth to offset Trump’s additional deficits.

$100B

OTHER UNFUNDED POLICIES

INTEREST

$700B

The campaign expects sustained economic growth that “would require productivity rates that we haven’t seen in modern history,” said Marc Goldwein, a senior vice president at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which produced the report.

 

To do so, Trump would need to contend with an aging U.S. population, which Goldwein warned would be difficult if Trump is also slowing immigration.

The borrowing required in Trump’s plan accumulates a hefty interest payment: $700 billion over the next 10 years.

Additional debt with each plan

CLINTON

$200

billion

$150B

UNFUNDED POLICIES

$50B

INTEREST

Clinton increases spending by $1.65 trillion, but her plan also raises $1.5 trillion in new taxes, so she adds $150 billion to the debt, plus interest on the new money she’ll need to borrow to fund her programs.

TRUMP

$5.3

trillion

TAX CUT

$4.5T

These boxes represent the major contributor

to Trump’s additional debt: $4.5 trillion in

tax cuts.

 

Trump promised his plan would not add at all to the national debt in a September speech, but there’s little evidence that’s possible.

 

He hasn’t proposed enough spending changes to account for the significantly lower income for the federal government.

 

Trump’s campaign insists that his entire economic plan, including tax cuts, deregulation and major changes in trade policy, would supercharge the economy. But most analysts are skeptical that the plan could produce enough growth to offset Trump’s additional deficits.

 

The campaign expects growth that “would require productivity rates that we haven’t seen in modern history,” said Marc Goldwein, a senior vice president at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which produced the report.

 

To do so, Trump would need to contend with an aging U.S. population, which Goldwein warned would be difficult if Trump is also slowing immigration.

$100B

OTHER UNFUNDED POLICIES

INTEREST

$700B

The borrowing required in Trump’s plan accumulates a hefty interest payment:

$700 billion over the next 10 years.

CLINTON

TRUMP

$200

$5.3

Additional debt

with each plan

billion

trillion

$150B

UNFUNDED POLICIES

$50B

INTEREST

Clinton increases spending by $1.65 trillion, but her plan also raises $1.5 trillion in new taxes, so she adds $150 billion to the debt, plus interest on the new money she’ll need to borrow to fund her programs.

The boxes at right represent the major contributor to Trump’s additional debt:

$4.5 trillion in tax cuts.

 

Trump promised his plan would not add at all to the national debt in a September speech, but there’s little evidence that’s possible.

 

He hasn’t proposed enough spending changes to account for the significantly lower income for the federal government.

 

Trump’s campaign insists that his entire economic plan, including tax cuts, deregulation and major changes in trade policy, would supercharge the economy. But most analysts are skeptical that the plan could produce enough growth to offset Trump’s additional deficits.

 

The campaign expects growth that “would require productivity rates that we haven’t seen in modern history,” said Marc Goldwein, a senior vice president at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which produced the report.

 

To do so, Trump would need to contend with an aging U.S. population, which Goldwein warned would be difficult if Trump is also slowing immigration.

TAX CUT

$4.5T

$100B

OTHER UNFUNDED POLICIES

The borrowing required in Trump’s plan accumulates a hefty interest payment:

$700 billion over the next 10 years.

INTEREST

$700B

‘Uncharted territory’

Trump’s plan would bring the debt to 105 percent of GDP, meaning it would be larger than the country’s total economic production. Goldwein calls that uncharted territory for the United States, though other countries have higher ratios.

While other spikes in the amount of debt held by the public have come just after wartime or economic difficulties, they were soon followed by rapid declines.

“We’ve never seen such a rapid, voluntary increase of our debt,” he said.

World War II

Trump

106%

105%

100% of GDP

Clinton

86%

80

60

40

20

Actual debt

Projections

0

’15

’26

1900

’46

World War II

Trump

106%

105%

100% of GDP

Clinton

86%

80

Current debt

expectations

60

World War I

40

33%

20

Actual debt

Projections

0

1900

1919

1946

2015

2026

Economists generally warn that extremely high national debt reduces productivity and wages in the economy, limits budget flexibility and increases the risk of a fiscal crisis. The problem of the debt will also be compounded when interest rates return to normal levels, increasing the interest portion.

[ Trump says he wouldn’t add to the national debt. One of his advisers says he’d borrow $10 trillion.]

Breaking down the plans

To generalize, the candidates really have only two levers to pull when it comes to the debt. They can either fiddle with the amount of money the government is taking in, or how much it is spending.

To avoid increasing the federal deficit, the amount they take in — through spending cuts or additional tax revenue — would need to equal the amount they plan to spend on new programs or tax cuts.

CLINTON

$2.1T

Savings/

New taxes

=

Spending/

tax cuts

$200B

new debt

$2.25T

Numbers may not add to total due to rounding.

TRUMP

$1.5T

Savings/

New taxes

=

Spending/

tax cuts

$5.3T

new debt

$6.8T

CLINTON

TRUMP

$2.1T

$2T

$1.5T

Savings/

New taxes

=

=

0

Spending/

tax cuts

$200B

new debt

-2

$2.25T

-4

$5.3T

new debt

-6T

Numbers may not add to total due to rounding.

$6.8T

Clinton’s tax plans take in more revenue from the highest earners, but that money won’t be used to pay down the debt. In fact, Clinton’s new spending programs end up outpacing that additional revenue, which is why analysts expect her plan to add to the debt.

As we’ve seen, Trump’s tax cuts leave trillions in new debt.

Let’s take a look at how the candidates’ plans compare, beginning with health-care policies.

Health care

CLINTON

$250B

=

Obamacare

changes

$450B

$250B

new debt

$500B

TRUMP

Block grant

Medicaid

$500B

$500B

=

Obamacare

changes

$500B

$50B

new debt

$550B

CLINTON

TRUMP

Block grant

Medicaid

$500B

$500B

$250B

=

=

Obamacare

changes

$450B

Obamacare

changes

$500B

$50B

new debt

$250B

new debt

$500B

$550B

Both Clinton and Trump’s changes to the Affordable Care Act are projected to cost about half a trillion dollars. Trump recoups the entire cost of his Obamacare changes by turning Medicaid into a block grant program — a reform Republicans have been proposing for several years as part of a replacement for the law.

With some other health policy costs, Clinton ends up $250 billion in the hole on health policy, while Trump is $50 billion short.

Now let’s take a look at how the candidates diverge on other spending policies. Clinton and Trump both plan to increase spending, but in different areas: Trump in defense and veterans, Clinton in education, infrastructure and child care.

Other spending and immigration policies

CLINTON

Immigration

reform

$100B

$100B

=

Higher

education

$500B

$1.45T

new debt

$1.55T

Infrastructure

investment

$500B

TRUMP

‘Penny Plan’

savings

$750B

$1T

=

Defense,

veterans

spending

$950B

$50B

new debt

$1.05T

CLINTON

TRUMP

‘Penny Plan’

savings

$750B

$1T

Immigration

reform

$100B

$100B

=

=

Defense,

veterans

spending

$950B

Higher

education

$500B

$50B

new debt

$1.05T

$1.45T

new debt

$1.55T

Infrastructure

investment

$500B

Trump plans to break even on these policies by enacting the “Penny Plan,” which would reduce non-discretionary budgets (that’s everything but defense, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid) by 1 percent every year, resulting in huge budget cuts.

Based on everything we’ve seen so far, it might seem that Clinton’s plan is going to add tremendous amounts to the debt. But so far, we’ve only looked at new spending and savings.

[ Who would win and lose under Trump and Clinton’s tax plans]

Here’s how revenues could change under the candidates’ tax plans:

Tax policies

CLINTON

$1.55T

new revenue

New

income

taxes

$1.05T

$1.7T

=

Child-care

tax credits

$150B

$150B

TRUMP

=

Business

tax cuts

$2.85T

Income

tax cuts

$900B

$4.5T

$4.5T

new debt

CLINTON

TRUMP

$1.55T

new revenue

New

income

taxes

$1.05T

$1.7T

=

=

Child-care

tax credits

$150B

$150B

Business

tax cuts

$2.85T

Income

tax cuts

$900B

$4.5T

$4.5T

new debt

Clinton requires the rich to pay higher taxes to fund her new programs, while Trump pours trillions into tax cuts that would significantly shrink the available funding for the federal government.

[ The stark differences between the Trump and Clinton tax plans and how they address ‘loopholes’]

Now, let’s look at the aggregate of these changes, plus the amount of interest the candidates will owe on the extra debt their plans create.

CLINTON

=

$200B

new debt

Interest

payments

$50B

TRUMP

=

$5.3T

new debt

Interest

payments

$700B

CLINTON

TRUMP

=

=

$200B

new debt

Interest

payments

$50B

$5.3T

new debt

Interest

payments

$700B

That’s a big gap left for Trump to fill with increased economic growth. Clinton's is much smaller — and her campaign claims it has filled it already, by proposing an additional tax increase on the heirs of extremely wealthy Americans who pass away.

Expect to hear more about the debt in the final presidential debate: Moderator Chris Wallace released his topics for discussion, and debt and entitlements made the list.

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