President Joe Biden argued on Friday that his administration was responsible for the largest decrease of the budget deficit in American history, while “mega MAGA trickle-down” policies from Republicans “failed the country.”
The claim occurs as the national debt surpasses $31 trillion for the first time, implying over $93,000 in liabilities per citizen and nearly $248,000 per taxpayer. As he argued that the nation is transitioning “from a historically strong economic recovery to a steady and stable growth,” Biden added that the deficit fell by $1.4 trillion this year and $350 billion last year.
“Today, we have further proof that we’re rebuilding the economy in a responsible way,” he said during a speech. “Let me be clear: This record deficit reduction includes the cost of my student loan plan and everything else we’re paying for.”
Biden failed to mention, however, that the deficit surged as policymakers enacted multiple stimulus packages meant to dampen economic fallout from government lockdowns. The deficit surged from nearly $1 trillion in 2019 to $3.1 trillion in 2020, according to data from the Office of Management and Budget, while the current deficit of $1.4 trillion exceeds the last pre-recession deficit by roughly $400 billion.
Policies enacted by the Biden administration will contribute more than $4.8 trillion in new deficit spending between 2021 and 2031, according to an analysis from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. Removing the effect of the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion package greenlit weeks after Biden’s inauguration, implies $2.5 trillion of new deficits.
Biden was nevertheless quick to argue that his policies decreased spending more than those enacted by Trump, who indeed oversaw a rapid increase in spending even before the recession.
“On my watch, things have been different. The deficit has come down both years that I’ve been in office,” Biden said. “And I just signed legislation that’s going to reduce it even more in the decades to come. Now Republicans in Congress are doubling down on their commitment to explode the deficit again. Just this week, Republican leaders said if they get their way, they’re going to extend the Trump tax cuts, which are due to expire in a couple years.”
The comments occur less than one month before the midterm elections, in which the economy and inflation rates are particularly salient issues for American voters, as indicated by a poll from ABC News and The Washington Post. Republicans lead the Democrats by a 16% margin and a 19% margin with respect to trust in handling the economy and inflation, respectively.
“If Republicans get their way, the deficit is going to soar, the tax burden is going to fall on the middle class,” Biden added. “And Republicans are working really hard.”
Democratic candidates, however, have distanced themselves from Biden and his economic agenda, including an executive order which canceled as much as $20,000 in student loan debt per borrower. One survey from CNBC revealed that 59% of Americans are concerned that eliminating student debt will worsen inflation.
In terms of midterm predictions, Biden conjectured that his party will “see one more shift” in the polls toward their side before Americans cast their ballots. “It’s been back and forth with them ahead, us ahead, them ahead. Back and forth,” he said.