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Debt Deal Shows Trump Less Fiscally Responsible Than Obama

Congress and the White House are set to put off any fights over the national debt limit until after the next election. The deal to blithely deficit-spend until July 2021 proves once and for all that, contrary to every promise made by every Republican in 2016, Donald Trump is a more liberal spender than Barack Obama:

Since President Trump took office, the national debt has grown by more than 10%, from just under $20 trillion to more than $22 trillion. Republicans in Congress have already signed off on a spending package that is 18% higher than under the final year of Barack Obama’s presidency, when the GOP railed constantly against the unconscionable rise in debt. Now the Trump White House has crafted a debt-exploding budget deal that will raise discretionary spending by 4% a year. In Obama’s first term, discretionary spending went up by 3% [Sophia Tesfaye, “GOP’s ‘Fiscal Conservatives’ Threaten to Torpedo Trump’s Debt Ceiling Deal,” Salon, 2019.07.24].

Back in the Obama days, the CBO projected the national debt in 2021 might reach $18.2 trillion. We’re already past that, and the Trump Administration is just pouring on more debt faster than President Obama would have allowed.

We have more room to borrow $22 billion more than we currently spend for guns and bombs, but Trump says we can’t afford $2.5 billion to feed three million people:

The Trump administration wants to change the way states determine who qualifies for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits, also known as food stamps. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 3 million people would lose their food assistance as a result.

The administration says it wants to close what it calls a “loophole” that allows states to give benefits to those who would not otherwise be eligible by raising or eliminating income and asset limits. Forty states and Washington, D.C., now take advantage of this option and have done so for many years.

“This proposal will not only save money, but more importantly it preserves the integrity of the program while ensuring nutrition assistance programs serve those most in need,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in announcing the proposed rule, published in the Federal Register. His agency estimates the change would likely save $2.5 billion a year.

…”This rule would take food away from families, prevent children from getting school meals, and make it harder for states to administer food assistance,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, the ranking member on the Senate Agriculture Committee. Stabenow noted that Congress refused to include the proposal in last year’s farm bill.

“This proposal is yet another attempt by this administration to circumvent Congress and make harmful changes to nutrition assistance that have been repeatedly rejected on a bipartisan basis,” she said [Pam Pressler, “3 Million Could Lose Food Stamp Benefits Under Trump Administration Proposal,” NPR, 2019.07.23].

All the contempt for humanity but with none of the professed fiscal responsibility—that’s Trump’s America.


  1. jerry 2019-07-24 08:03

    Deficits don’t matter, every republican knows this and they have clearly declared it more that once. The most famous being Dick Cheney. The coming cuts will now be in Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid as spoken by Lindsey Graham, trumps sauna partner.

    We now have a Navy, with huge aircraft carriers that can be sunk with a “Carrier Destroyer Missile” way out there in the blue water and yet we keep building them. The UK sent theirs home from the South China Sea for a number of reasons and one of them is that threat. Maybe we ought to try that peace thingy and getting along. Save the planet and keep people dignified… Just a thought, now back to our regularly scheduled bombing runs.

  2. mike from iowa 2019-07-24 08:11

    So wingnuts are liars? Who could’ve known?

  3. jerry 2019-07-24 08:49

    Mueller says trumps was not exonerated, in other words, dude needs impeached.

    “Was it true that his report into Russian influence in his campaign and the 2016 election did not clear Trump of obstruction of justice? Mueller answered, “Correct. It is not what the report said.”

    Then Nadler asked, “What about total exoneration? […] Did you actually totally exonerate the president?”

    The answer was simple: “No.” He followed up by confirming that Trump refused to be interviewed by the investigative team.”

  4. bearcreekbat 2019-07-24 10:27

    Imagine that – over 3 million people actually getting an improved opportunity for safe and sufficient food to eat. The horror! The horror! “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche!”

  5. jerry 2019-07-24 10:46

    President Obama was not only more fiscal responsible monetarily, he had the morals that republicans mostly lack.

    Representative Ken Buck (R) from Colorado asks

    “BUCK: Okay. But the — could you charge the president with a crime after he left office?

    MUELLER: Yes.

    BUCK: You believe that he committed — you could charge the President of the United States with obstruction of justice after he left office?

    MUELLER: Yes.”

    trump is a lawbreaker as is his entire cabinet and supporters. They are all un American. Start looking right here in the legislature in South Dakota, that will give you a clue on how they hate this country by harming those who live in it.

  6. Porter Lansing 2019-07-24 12:04

    What’s being called a “loophole”, isn’t. It’s a small savings account that poor people can set aside for emergencies. Not allowing small, rainy day savings accounts sends the message that the poor should spend rather than save. Allowing minor savings amounts and allowing automobile ownership promotes long-term savings habits and economic independence rather than dependence on immediate aid. Accumulating even a small amount of savings and assets reduces the length of time families need public assistance. Eliminating the ability of the poor to plan for problems won’t save $2.5 billion; it will cause more need, more welfare, and create even more poverty.

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-07-24 12:14

    Interesting point, Porter. I can understand the argument that we don’t want to hand out welfare checks to entities with huge savings accounts and other assets (see also today’s post on South Dakota’s corporate welfare)… but you make a good point that folks in need should have to divest themselves of every last shred of financial stability before we help them feed their kids. Supporting saving habits among food stamps recipients ought to provide us some long-term budget savings.

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-07-24 12:16

    Note that we don’t need any surprises from Robert Mueller to establish the fundamental point of this post: even on those rare occasions when Trumpists campaigned on policy, they won election on the big lie that Trumpists would do a better job or reining in spending than Democrats and the Obama Administration.

    2020 Democrats should be able to represent Mike Rounds and Donald Trump as fiscal profligates and liars and destroy them at the polls among honest voters without citing one line of the Mueller report.

  9. Chris S. 2019-07-24 12:23

    Hand-wringing about the debt is a fool’s errand pretending to be “fiscal responsibility.” Deficits and ZOMG THE DEBT are never a concern during Republican administrations. People only get “concerned” about them when Democrats are in charge and they want to hamstring any spending that isn’t for wars or tax cuts. (There’s always free money for wars and tax cuts!)

    “Sequestration” and the arbitrary debt ceiling (“Should we pay for the stuff we authorized? Opinions differ!”) are stupid and harmful, and Democrats should quit playing this sucker’s game . . . unless they secretly want to hamstring social programs too.

  10. Porter Lansing 2019-07-24 12:37

    From my “innovations” file … Instead of kicking people with small, rainy day savings off food stamps, we could allow them to open a savings account through SNAP, which could then be accessed (only with approval from SNAP offices) when needed.

  11. mike from iowa 2019-07-24 12:38

    Maybe wingnuts should try weaning the 1% off korprate welfare, cut congressional pensions and judicial pensions in half or more and starve the koch bros once.

  12. mike from iowa 2019-07-24 12:41

    Take the 2 trillion it will cost for taxcuts for the wealthy and portion that money out to the poor, how many would come off welfare and spend the economy ahead at flank speed?

  13. jerry 2019-07-24 16:10

    Makes you wonder “Democrats should quit playing this sucker’s game . . . unless they secretly want to hamstring social programs too.” Deficits really don’t matter. Who cares if the national debt is 20 trillion or 40 trillion, those are just numbers that are meaningless. The debt is contrived on paper, so all we do is print more paper. The reason the party crashed in 2008 was not because of a deficit, but because of speculation.

    Chris S is correct, Democrats get all willy nilly when they get in power and fret over an already baked bread. Solve problems Democrats, deficits are not your problem to solve.

  14. o 2019-07-24 17:03

    I wish TRUE Republican/Conservatives would start using the RINO label on whom it really applies — instead of the Tea Party/American Taliban claiming that they are the true GOP. I understood the philosophy of small government and fiscal conservatism (even though not agreeing with it often).

  15. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-07-24 17:18

    Chris, I can roll with you that deficit spending isn’t the monster we’ve been told it is; buying things on credit apparently keeps the economy trucking along without obvious damage… except for the nagging fact that, as I heard on the radio, we’re going to spend more federal dollars on interest this budget year than we will on children. There has to be some point at which spending money we don’t have, and then paying the fee for spending the money we don’t have, starts to matter.

    But I’m willing to accept the possibility that that point is far, far away and warrants no hand-wringing. That’s fine.

    The main point we have to be strong on is to hold the Republicans accountable for putting us through the wringer with their overwrought warnings of fiscal doom and promises of responsibility, followed by absolute and unblinking abdication of the moral/fiscal position they staked out to win power. Republicans don’t get to suddenly pivot (psych!) and beat us Dems in 2020 by saying the exact opposite of what they said in 2016. We don’t need to destroy them for raising the national debt faster than Obama did. We need to destroy them for lying about their intention to do the opposite.

  16. o 2019-07-24 17:29

    Debt doesn’t matter . . . until it does. We are fortunate that the service of that debt is “reasonable” because interest rates are low. We never really re-pay the debt; we just service the interest payments (bonds). That house of cards all goes south if interest rates (triggered by inflation) creep up, and more and more of the budget has to be dedicated to that debt service service – then as a percentage of our national budget, it becomes a black hole that DOES have a serious detrimental effect – it becomes an economy crasher.

    The Fed has two planned rate hikes for this year, I believe.

  17. Debbo 2019-07-24 19:53

    Rancid Racist and his GOP pals like to torment the non powerful for fun and games. It’s their bread and circuses. Big Pharma plays the same game:

    “Minneapolis mom Kristen Hoatson has an 11-year-old with Type 1. On a recent trip to Ontario, she paid less than $300 for a three-month supply, no prescription required. The retail price in America: $4,000.

    “In the stark relief of dollars and cents, it’s the difference between a nation that cares for its afflicted, and one that does not.”

    That’s another one the GOP enables for their amusement. I hate them. 🤬🤬🤬 (No, not all Republicans, but all the ones who have no problem with the suffering the GOP apparently delights in.)

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