The ever-growing national debt stands at $19 trillion. It would be a tall task for any president to reduce it. But Donald Trump says he would eliminate the entire national debt: all $19 trillion, during eight years in the White House. Could that really be possible?
To the contrary, a Trump presidency would probably double the national debt, not eliminate it.
According to Trump campaign senior adviser Barry Bennett, Trump would sell unnecessary government assets to cut the debt. “The federal government has assets that you could sell or trade for some of the debt,” he said in an interview with Chris Jansing on MSNBC. But do those assets amount to $16 trillion? “Oh my goodness, do you know how much land we have? How much oil is offshore in government lands? Easily.”
But according to the Department of the Treasury, the federal government holds only $3.1 trillion in assets. That’s right: The Trump campaign over-estimates the amount of federal assets by at least five times over.
Assets aside, the debt is currently projected to grow to $28 trillion by the end of 2025. According to the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. to pay off the debt by 2025 would require cutting all spending by two-thirds or 16 percent economic growth per year. But Trump says he wouldn’t significantly change Social Security, the largest portion of the federal budget. So without any changes to Social Security, the rest of the government spending would have to be cut by more than 90 percent.
That’s all before Trump’s tax plan kicks in. Trump has proposed more than $10 trillion of tax cuts over the next decade. With that included, spending (including Social Security) would have to be cut 90 percent and the economy would have to grow by 20 percent per year.
Keep in mind, the highest economic growth rate since 1950 is 16.9 percent — and that lasted for only one quarter in 1950. Economic growth is currently projected to average 2.1 percent.
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget says its lowest estimate of the debt level after a Trump presidency is $38 trillion. About half of that increase isn’t Trump’s fault, to be fair, because Congressional Budget Office projections say the debt will rise to $28 trillion in 2025 under current law. But Trump’s proposed policies would add another $10 trillion to the debt by 2025.
Also from the Washington Examiner