By Rick Patelunas
In early 2015, Donald Trump tweeted @realDonaldTrump:
With America’s debt topping $21T by the end of his presidency, Obama will have effectively
bankrupted our country. @davidaxelrod
7:16 AM – 10 Feb 2015
President Obama did not exceed $21 trillion and the tweet ignored the upheaval of the Great Recession. There is no footnote explaining the economic policies put in place to respond to the unemployment and suffering of millions. No, it is a simple statement defining $21 trillion as bankrupting the country.
The country needed someone to take on that bankrupting debt and Trump tweeted:
@FoxNews: @realDonaldTrump: “When you have $18-$19 trillion in debt, they need someone
like me to straighten it out”
10:12 PM – 6 Aug 2015
Trump also proclaimed himself to be king of debt and he thought his use of bankruptcy laws was brilliant.
I’m the king of debt. I’m great with debt. Nobody knows debt better than me,” Trump told Norah O’Donnell in an interview,which aired on “CBS This Morning”: “I’ve made a fortune by using debt, and if things don’t work out, I renegotiate the debt. I mean, that’s a smart thing, not a stupid thing.”
How do you renegotiate the debt?” O’Donnell followed up.
You go back and you say, hey guess what, the economy crashed,” Trump replied. “I’m going to give you back half.”
If you can’t even pay back half, there’s always bankruptcy so you don’t have to pay anything back. In another interview the very next day on “Good Morning America”:
Trump defended his use of bankruptcy laws in business dealings. The GOP nominee, who has been through four corporate bankruptcies, said he has “used brilliantly the laws of this country” in the business world, but never in his personal life.
The King of Debt Succeeds
In February, the nation’s debt exceeded $22 trillion under Trump. That must have been music to the ears of the king of debt. He managed to increase the national debt by $2 trillion since he took office. Having surpassed Obama’s debt, one could borrow a phrase from Trump himself and say that he “effectively bankrupted our country.”
The country is not yet bankrupt and debt in and of itself is not evil. How debt is used by the government though affects everyone in the economy. In times of economic downturns and insufficient demand, debt can be used to finance government spending to increase demand. Debt was one of a number of Keynesian policies Obama employed to combat the shrinking economy during the Great Recession.
The economy was not shrinking when Trump took office. The economy had been slowly, but continuously, expanding after the Great Recession. It was not government spending to counter an economic slump that ballooned the debt under Trump, it was the enormous tax cut that transferred more wealth to the top 1 percent.
Much has been written about the stock market and stock buybacks, but there is a more recent fact that demonstrates how the wealthy are benefitting. The top 1 percent of households now have more cash than the bottom 50 percent. In dollar terms, the top 1 percent had $304 billion in cash at the end of 2018. Could it be that the wealthy have more money than they know what to do with?
With Trump’s comments and business history, no one should be surprised with the growing debt or who benefitted. What is interesting is the short time it took for Republicans to move from fiscal hawks calling for a balanced budget to fiscal doves silently supporting Trump’s growing debt.
Rep. Tom Rice on the Debt
Despite supporting the Republican tax cut and Trump’s policies, the 7th District’s GOP Congressman, Tom Rice, preaches fiscal conservatism and a balanced budget on his own website:
We need a balanced budget to remain competitive. I have supported a balanced budget amendment since I was elected because it is imperative for the future of our country. The inability for Washington to manage its finances is unacceptable. Hardworking American families live on a budget, and we should expect the same from the federal government
As far back as his first month in office when Obama was struggling with the devastation of the Great Recession, Rice’s concerns were not the unemployed and those affected by the downturn. Rice’s priority was balancing the budget and the growing debt:
Rep. Tom Rice (SC-07), issued the following statement today on the passage of the Require a PLAN Act, which requires the President to present his plan on balancing the budget and paying down the exploding debt.
Our national debt has ballooned under this President,” said Rice. “It is time for the President to present a plan to pay down the out of control deficit he racked up during his first four years in office. We sent a clear message to the President today: To get our fiscal house in order, we need less rhetoric and more leadership.”
Does Anyone Really Believe These Guys?
Using Trump’s own definition from 2015, he has bankrupted the country. At the same time, Rice hypocritically maintains his website calling for a balanced budget.
They can ignore reality, but the world hasn’t changed. The consequences of Republican policies are devastating and real. The Congressional Budget Office projects that the debt will grow to nearly $29 trillion in the next ten years.
That means higher interest payments and more taxpayer dollars devoted to paying off the debt. With fewer taxpayer funds available for other government programs, tax scammers like Trump and Rice use the debt that they caused to justify gutting programs like Social Security and Medicare.
There is No More for the Poor to Give to the Rich
The rich should not be sitting on more cash than the bottom 50 percent. Workers should not be one paycheck or one medical bill away from bankruptcy. The elderly should not be forced to decide between food and medicine. The minimum wage should not be worth less than it was in 1968.
The time has come for real reform that taxes the rich, their estates and their corporations.
It is time to stand up against Trump and those who support his dangerous policies.
Rick Patelunas has been active in the Horry County Democratic Party since moving to Myrtle Beach in 2012. He is a member of the Southenders club, served as Precinct President, been a delegate to State conventions and worked on a number of campaigns.