Trump, Biden Have Added a Combined $12.7 Trillion to the National Debt

American taxpayers are on the hook for 63 percent more debt than they were in 2017.

Benoît Prieur via Wikimedia Commons
The National Debt Clock in 2011, when the debt was less than half today's total. Benoît Prieur via Wikimedia Commons

President Trump and President Biden added a combined $12.7 trillion to the national debt between January 2017 and June 2024, a new report has found. While some of that spending was driven by Covid pandemic emergency spending, the majority was added due to increased spending and reduced tax revenues. 

According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the national debt will reach a “record share” of America’s economy during the next presidential term, which begins in January 2025. The committee says the increase is “due in part to policies approved by Presidents Trump and Biden during their time in office, including executive actions and legislation passed by Congress.”

The report found that Trump approved a total of $3.6 trillion in emergency Covid spending, which came mostly from the Cares Act — a March 2020 bill that included cash payments to Americans, increased unemployment benefits, and forgivable loans for businesses. 

Mr. Biden’s own Covid relief came in the form of the American Rescue Plan, which sent payments to those making $75,000 or less annually, provided money for vaccine distribution, and assisted schools to the tune of $130 billion to help them re-open. Mr. Biden has spent a total of $2.1 trillion in Covid relief since taking office. 

The committee’s report on the skyrocketing debt found that Trump’s contribution came in the form of bipartisan spending bills. In total, 77 percent of the debt Trump added came from legislation approved by members of both parties, while just 29 percent of Mr. Biden’s additions to the debt were approved in a bipartisan way. 

Much of Mr. Biden’s debt spending came in the form of executive actions, while Trump’s were the result of increased defense spending and his 2017 tax bill that decreased federal revenues by $2 trillion. Mr. Biden has so far added $1.2 trillion thanks to executive actions, including his student loan forgiveness program. In contrast, just $20 billion in debt came from Trump’s executive actions. 

The national debt-to-gross domestic product ratio has risen sharply since 2017. The debt now sits at 122.4 percent of GDP, but in the first quarter of 2017, the debt was 102.9 percent of GDP. The high point was the second quarter of 2020 when Covid hit, reaching 132.9 percent of GDP.

“During the next presidential term, the national debt is projected to reach a record share of the economy, interest costs are slated to surge, the debt limit will re-emerge, discretionary spending caps and major tax cuts are scheduled to expire, and major trust funds will be hurtling toward insolvency,” the committee’s report says.

“Adding trillions more to the national debt will only worsen these challenges, just as both Presidents Trump and Biden did during their terms along with lawmakers in Congress,” the report concludes. “The country would be better served if the candidates put forward and stuck to plans to reduce the national debt, secure the trust funds, and put the budget on a sustainable long-term path.”

The New York Sun

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