The United States is nearly $20 trillion in debt. To put that in perspective, America has a debt-to-GDP ratio of 104 percent, which means our country is more in debt than it outputs.
The last two presidents have added the most to the debt in dollar amounts, with Barack Obama accruing $7.917 trillion and George W. Bush racking up $5.849 trillion.
Obama’s debt increases came largely in his first term when he was dealing with the fallout from the 2008 financial crisis and the Great Recession that it caused. Obama also pushed big domestic spending items such as the stimulus package and middle-class tax cuts, all of which contributed to the problem.
The Bush debt increases also came as a result of increased spending on domestic programs, including the famous Bush tax cuts and the auto and financial bailouts of 2008. Bush also spent hundreds of billions on foreign interventions after 9/11, such as the Iraq war.
If you have a credit card or have ever taken out a loan, you know that you have to pay more than just the amount you borrowed. Interest has to be paid on the debt, and for the past decade, the U.S. has gotten lucky in the interest department, with interest rates at or near zero. Now those rates are rising and so, too, are interest payments on the debt.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the debt is a ticking time bomb left over from the big spending of the Obama administration. They also correctly observe Trump will have to clean up this mess, and the debt may end up constraining parts of his agenda such as tax reform and infrastructure spending. But the Journal shouldn’t give George W. Bush a pass for his role. Iraq was a war of choice that led to creation of ISIS and ultimately did nothing to advance American interests in the Middle East, yet it cost a fortune.
The Trump administration’s first budget makes deep cuts to domestic discretionary spending. It also cuts foreign aid, the State Department, and the United Nations. However, it sharply increases defense spending and does not touch entitlements, all of which is reckless during a time of such unprecedented red ink.
Donald Trump did not create this debt mess in which he now finds himself, but he did inherit it, and he must now deal with it. He won’t do that by submitting engorged budgets that make all the same mistakes that his predecessors did.