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Thursday, March 23, 2023
CNS' Jeffrey Nitpicks Biden On Debt vs. Deficit -- And Finally Admits Trump Ran Up Debt
Topic: editor Terry Jeffrey found a way to blend two obsessions of the "news" organization he runs -- nitpicking President Biden and blaming anyone but Republicans for federal deficits -- into a single Feb. 2 article:

When speaking at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in New York City on Tuesday, President Joe Biden falsely claimed that his administration had cut the federal "debt" by $1.7 trillion during his first two years in office.

In fact, according to the U.S. Treasury, during Biden’s first two years in office—Jan. 20, 2021 through Jan. 20, 2023—the federal debt increased by approximately $3.7 trillion.


Biden may have been mistaking the federal deficit for the federal debt. The deficit is the amount that the federal government spends in excess of its revenues in a given fiscal year. The debt is the money the federal government borrows to cover its deficits.

From fiscal 2020—the year the COVID-19 pandemic hit—to fiscal 2022 (the last full fiscal year on record), the annual federal deficit did drop by $1,756,431,000,000. In fiscal 2020, the deficit was $3,131,917,000,000. In fiscal 2022, it was 1,375,486,000,000. Thus, even though the deficit dropped $1.756 trillion from its pandemic-year high of $3.131 trillion, it still remained above a trillion dollars last year at $1.375 trillion.

Jeffrey failed to disclose the fact that Donald Trump was president when the fiscal year 2020 budget was created, and that Biden was operating under a budget approved under Trump when he took office in January 2021. Indeed, the word "Trump" does not appear at all in this article.

Then, in a Feb. 17 article, Jeffrey did it all again:

In a speech at Lanham, Maryland, on Wednesday, President Joe Biden falsely claimed for the second time in less than three weeks that he had cut the federal "debt” over the past two years.

When Biden was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2021, the total federal debt was $27,751,896,236,414.77, according to the official numbers published by the U.S. Treasury. As of the close of business on Feb. 15, 2023—the latest day for which the debt numbers are currently available—the total federal debt was $31,454,875,345,039.44.

Thus, during Biden’s presidency the federal debt has increased by $3,702,979,108,624.67.

Biden has not reduced the federal debt; he has increased it by 13.3 percent in a little over two years.

Jeffrey then pedantically lectured Biden:

Does Biden not understand the difference between the annual deficit and the accumulating debt of the federal government? In his Wednesday speech, Biden said that the Republicans were “not going to pay the national debt, which took 200 years to accumulate.” Then he said: “This is a 200-year obligation that’s been accumulated.”

The “deficit” measures the difference between a given fiscal year’s revenues and expenditures. The “debt”—as Biden rightfully pointed out, while claiming he had “cut” it--is the amount that the government has borrowed over the past 200-plus years and has not yet paid back.

Jeffrey then answered his own condescension by admitting that "In his State of the Union Address on Feb. 7, President Biden used the terms 'debt' and 'deficit' accurately and claimed in that speech that he had 'cut the deficit'—not the debt—'by more then $1.7 trillion' in two years." But that forced Jeffrey to do something he has rarely, if ever, done -- explicitly call out Trump by name in acknowledging the debt increase under his presidency:

In his State of the Union, Biden attacked the Trump administration for increasing the “debt” by running a “deficit.”

“Under the previous administration, the American deficit went up four years in a row,” said Biden. “Because of those record deficits, no President added more to the national debt in any four years than my predecessor.

“Nearly 25 percent of the entire national debt that took over 200 years to accumulate was added by just one administration alone—the last one,” said Biden. “They’re the facts. Check it out. Check it out.”

During Trump’s presidency the deficit did in fact increase every year. In fiscal 2017, the year Trump took office, it was $665,446,000,000, according to OMB. In fiscal 2018, it rose to $779,138,000,000. In fiscal 2019, it rose to $983,592,000,000. And, in fiscal 2020, the year the COVID pandemic hit, it skyrocketed to $3,132,439,000,000.

On Jan. 20, 2017, the day Trump took office, according to the U.S. Treasury, the federal debt was $19,947,304,555,212.49. On Jan. 20, 2021, the day that Biden succeeded Trump, the federal debt was $27,751,896,236,414.77. Thus, under Trump, the debt rose $7,804,591,681,202.28.

But since CNS is obligated by its partisan agenda to portray Democrats as worse financial stewards than Republicans, Jeffrey tried to spin Trump's deficits by insisting that Biden's not-yet-existing deficits would be much bigger:

Biden’s fiscal 2023 budget proposal, however, called for deficits in excess of $1.1 trillion every year for the next decade. By contrast, Trump ran an annual deficit that exceeded $1 trillion only in fiscal 2020 in the face of the COVID pandemic.

By fiscal 2032, under Biden’s budget proposal, the annual federal deficit would exceed $2 trillion—hitting $2,014,000,000,000

Jeffrey and CNS have long avoided specifically blaming Trump for deficits racked up under his presidency, though it was quick to blame Biden for them as soon as he took office.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:28 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, March 23, 2023 1:31 AM EDT

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