Donald Trump's Economic Plan Would Increase Debt

by Seth Millstein

According to a new analysis, Donald Trump's economic plan would add over $11 trillion to the national debt over the next 10 years, which is nothing short of shocking.

Economic forecasters have ranked Donald Trump as the third-biggest financial risk the world faces, more so than even "the rising threat of radical jihadi terrorism." This is probably intuitively true to many Americans, but now we can put some numbers to that risk.

The analysis comes courtesy of the Washington, D.C., based Center for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB). By comparison, during the less than eight years of President Obama's presidency, the U.S. debt has risen by roughly $6 trillion, about half the cost of Trump's plan. Hillary Clinton's proposals, meanwhile, would increase the debt by about $250 billion over the next decade, according to the same analysis. Clinton's plan is less than two and a half percent as expensive as Trump's.

Trump would bring about this debt explosion, in part, by cutting the top marginal tax rate — taxes on the richest Americans — from 39.6 percent to 25 percent. He'd also lower the top corporate tax rate from 35 to 15 percent. The CRFB added that, in order for Trump's budget to be sustainable in the long-run, he'd have to make cuts to Social Security and Medicare, something he's pledged not to do.

"Were Trump to make the budget sustainable by only cutting non-Social Security, non-Medicare spending," the group wrote, "all other spending would need to be cut by 50 to 67 percent — a clearly unrealistic magnitude of spending cuts, particularly given Trump’s other goals that would likely result in spending increases."

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It's worth noting that, despite having carefully cultivated an image as a populist everyman, Trump's tax plan is extremely regressive and would overwhelmingly benefit the most wealthy Americans.

"Trump's proposal would cut taxes at all income levels, although the largest benefits, in dollar and percentage terms, would go to the highest-income households," the Tax Policy Center wrote of Trump's plan last December. "[U]nless it is accompanied by very large spending cuts, it could increase the national debt by nearly 80 percent of gross domestic product by 2036, offsetting some or all of the incentive effects of the tax cuts."

Trump has been cavalier about the debt in the past. He claimed earlier in the year that he's "done very well with debt," and that he'd continue to accrue debt as president under the theory that, "if the economy crashed, [the U.S.] could make a deal." In this sense, this analysis of his budget proposal isn't surprising. But it's certainly concerning.