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October 30, 2018 - 10:46am

Today's Poll: Are you concerned that Trump is adding $5.6 trillion to the national debt?

posted by Howard B. Owens in polls.
Tim Miller
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Every single one of you who voted for Trump and who claimed to be a "fiscal conservative"....

Well... you weren't, and you aren't. Delusional? Maybe (probably).. but conservative? No way.

John Roach
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I am concerned. But I was concerned when Obama added billions to it also, and Bush, etc.
Problem is Americans want all sorts of things, but do not want to pay for them.

Howard B. Owens
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Here's an article on Obama's contribution to debt, which depending on how you calculate it makes a worst case, over eight years, of $9 trillion.

https://www.thebalance.com/national-debt-under-obama-3306293

That's over eight years, not just one (the $5.6 trillion being added by Trump in 2018 alone).

Keynesian fiscal policy, which has generally served the country pretty well since the 1940s, is to reduce debt during good economic times so you can absorb more spending during down times. Obama increased spending to stimulate the economy and given he had seven straight years of economic growth it's hard to argue it didn't work.

We're in a strong economy now but instead of reducing debt, we're adding to it at a record pace. The spending could overheat the economy, driving up inflation to unacceptable levels and leading to a harder fall later. Hopefully, the Fed can stay ahead of it and appropriately tighten the money supply (of course Trump is complaining about this but unless interest rates go up the Fed will have fewer options during the next downturn, and downturns are inevitable).

Tim Miller
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President Bush (the younger) added to debt in four ways:

First - a tax cut when we were running a surplus. In a way, this was ridiculous as we could have used the surplus in the good economy to pay down some of our debt. However, as Congress was not doing this as quickly as they could and was getting on with spending the surplus, you could argue his tax cut was the next best thing. (You could argue that - I wouldn't.)

Second - additional tax cut to encourage people to spend money rather than hunker down and cut back after 9/11. The Barenaked Ladies have a song "Shopping" influenced by Pres. Bush's comment to keep on shopping. It was actually good advice - a nasty recession could have resulted from folks getting too scared after the terrorist attack. (more about nasty recessions later)

Third (and biggest) - in small part the Afghan war, and VERY large part the Iraq war. Trillions of dollars wasted in Iraq (and not enough spent in Afghanistan).

Fourth - the first big deficit during President Obama's term was actually President Bush pushing through the first huge expenditure to prop up our financial system. Talk about a necessary evil... I hated that these financial firms that dug the hole we were being dragged into were being propped up by us, but without that assistance our financial structure would have completely collapsed, leading us into a depression. With that propping up, we "merely" had the worst recession since 1929.

With the exception of the Iraq war, President Bush's contributions to our debt can be argued to have been beneficial or at least not horribly harmful.

Howard covers President Obama's debt spending pretty well.

As to President Trump's spending/deficits? Where to begin? Strong-ish economy continued from President Obama's 2nd term, with deficits decreasing (but still deficit spending - as were President Obama's later years)... and then a huge tax cut with significant defense spending increases. Why? The economy was going decently... this was the time to try to balance things out. But nooooooo (sorry Mr. Belushi)... huge cuts cannibalizing needed revenue - revenue needed to pay for those defense increases, needed to refurbish our infrastructure that has been ignored for 40 years, needed to help pay for healthcare for our aging population.

Sad... so sad.

Howard B. Owens
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Oh, BTW: those GOP cuts that were supposed to spur business spending, leading to business growth, leading to increased tax revenue? Hasn't happened.

https://twitter.com/byHeatherLong/status/1055800259941670913/photo/1

There also hasn't been the promised growth in wages from the tax cuts

https://thehill.com/opinion/finance/413637-tax-reforms-broken-promises-o...

And half of the tax cuts promised middle-class Americans are being eaten up by new tariffs.

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/trump-wants-to-cut-middle-cla...

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