The writer of the May 15 letter "The national debt is both parties' problem," did a commendable job researching the facts and repercussions of adding hundreds of billions of dollars in interest yearly onto the growing $28 trillion national debt.
Unfortunately, it appears he makes a biased statement pretending it's objective truth when he states that if you want to know how much each president “contributed” to the national debt, you can simply go to Google and ask how much the national debt “grew” under each president.
The site lists how much was added to the national debt during a president's term, not how much each president's policies contributed to it. To do that requires researching government websites to:
- Verify new spending legislation signed into law by each president.
- Verify CBO projected cost of this new legislation.
- Was the new legislation paid with cuts to existing programs, tax increases, growth in GDP or borrowed?
- Was the legislation a one time expenditure or will it require continued funding?
- Combine spending for the president's new legislation with any additional dollars added onto existing legislation.
After compiling the above data on each president, you have statistical information to compare how much each president added to the national debt and how much was the result of existing legislative commitments using simple math. After adjusting for inflation, you can make dollar-for-dollar comparisons between presidents.
Over the past forty years, only two president's reduced spending from that of their predecessor: Clinton and Obama. Since 1980, every Republican president increased spending significantly from that of their Democratic predecessor.
Both parties contributed to the national debt, but both parties did not contribute equally. It's not even close!
Tax cuts are the single biggest contributor to the national debt. The national debt exploded after Reagan cut the top marginal tax rate from 70% to 28% resulting in borrowing $64 billion to cover the loss in net revenues. Every dollar cut in taxes, not replaced, requires a dollar to be borrowed yearly with interest compounding.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimated the Bush tax cuts in 2003 would be responsible for one-third of federal debt by 2018. Another Republican tax cut in 2017, required borrowing $318 billion to cover revenue shortfalls for 2018 and 2019, during a healthy economy. The CBO attributes 72% of the national debt to legislated tax cuts.
The national debt is not the biggest problem facing America — it is lying. Lies divided the country and families, led to the violent insurrection at our nation's Capitol by Trump supporters. Lies led to violence between races, Republican state legislators introducing almost 400 bills with restrictive voting provisions and was a significant factor in almost 600,000 Americans dying from COVID-19.
A close second is fear, followed by ignorance. They prevent irresponsible cowards from addressing the national debt, climate change, infrastructure, immigration, racism, gun violence, wealth disparities and a non-partisan investigation into the attempted overthrow of our democracy on Jan. 6, 2021.