To counter these trends, the Trump administration has engaged in economic double-talk, including repeatedly saying, falsely, that the federal deficit — and by extension, the national debt — was falling or would fall in the future. You can watch Trump officials do this again and again — even as the debt rises — in the video above.
In March 2017, Vice President Pence said Trump did not want a budget that would increase the deficit. Two months later, the White House proposed a budget that the Congressional Budget Office said would increase the deficit.
And 17 months after then-budget director Mick Mulvaney said that deficit spending was needed to grow the economy, acting budget director Russell Vought told reporters in March that deficit spending was not needed to grow the economy. Over that time, the United States added approximately $1.7 trillion to the debt.
In March 2016, Trump himself promised to eliminate the entire national debt in eight years when it was at $19.2 trillion and made up approximately 76 percent of GDP. Today, it is over $22 trillion and on track to account for 79 percent of GDP in fiscal 2019. Trump’s own fiscal 2020 budget projects that by 2025, debt held by the public will be over 50 percent higher than the year he took office.
The White House and Republicans defend the $1.5 trillion tax cut by saying the cuts will spur 3 percent annual economic growth that will increase tax revenue, even with lower tax rates. Neither have happened.
One year after forecasting that deficits would remain below $1 trillion for the duration of Trump’s presidency, the White House now projects that its own budget proposal would cause deficits to exceed $1 trillion through 2022. And the CBO expects debt held by the public to reach its highest level since World War II by the end of the next decade.
And as Trump refers to his economy as the strongest in history, his top economic adviser says the economy needs more time to grow before deficits decrease from increased revenue.
“I just need another couple of years — and I said this at the time — to let the revenues fill in if we get the kind of growth that we are hoping for,” Kudlow said in June, nearly one year after predicting lower deficits from higher growth.
Meanwhile, annual GDP growth remains below 3 percent.