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Debt Up $7 Trillion Under Biden

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Since President Joe Biden was inaugurated, the federal debt has increased by more than $7 trillion.

On Jan. 20, 2021, the day of Biden's inauguration, it was $27,751,896,236,414.77, according to data published by the U.S. Treasury Department. As of this Fourth of July, it was $34,847,568,990,054.13.


That is an increase of $7,095,672,753,639.36 -- in less than four years.

No other president has increased the debt that much between his inauguration and the Fourth of July in his fourth year in office.

When President Donald Trump was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2017, the debt was $19,947,304,555,212.49. On the Fourth of July in 2020 -- the year of the COVID pandemic -- it was $26,447,922,718,271.66.

That was an increase of $6,500,618,163,059.17.

When President Barack Obama was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2009, the debt was $10,626,877,048,913.08. On the Fourth of July in 2012, it was $15,880,986,464,325.29.

That was an increase of $5,254,109,415,412.21.

When President George W. Bush was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2001, the federal debt was $5,727,776,738,304.64. On the Fourth of July in 2004, it was $7,259,602,983,923.51.

That was an increase of $1,531,826,245,618.87.

According to the Treasury Department data, the total debt of the federal government first exceeded $7 trillion on Jan. 15, 2004.

So, what does that say about the more than $7 trillion increase in the debt that happened between Biden's inauguration and this Fourth of July? It says that in less than four years under Biden, the debt has increased more than it did under all American presidents from George Washington to Bill Clinton.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics last week released its monthly employment report for June. It indicated that there were 161,199,000 individuals employed in civilian jobs in the United States last month. The $7,095,672,753,639.36 that the federal debt increased between Biden's inauguration and this Fourth of July equaled approximately $44,018 per every one of those workers. The $34,847,568,990,054.13 in total debt the federal government held as of the Fourth of July equaled approximately $216,177 for each of them.


What could someone do with $216,177?

It would almost cover, for example, four years of undergraduate tuition at Harvard. According to that university's website, the annual tuition for the upcoming school year there will be $56,550. Four full years at that rate would run $226,200.

In Iowa, according to Redfin data published by Forbes, the median price of a home in 2023 was $229,000. In Ohio, it was $235,000.

On July 29, 2023 -- before Biden's cognitive abilities became a major issue -- he made a remarkable statement (noted in this column before) about what he called the "debt."

According to the White House transcript of a speech delivered at a campaign event on July 29, 2023, in Freeport, Maine, Biden said: "So, folks, look, imagine -- and, by the way, all the stuff we did in the economy, all these programs that we've put forward -- in the process, I cut the federal debt by $1.7 trillion in two years. More than any other president of the United States has come close."

On July 28, 2023, in a speech in Auburn, Maine, Biden had made a similar statement. According to the White House transcript and a video on CSPAN, he said then: "Guess what? In the four years that the last guy was president, he raised the national debt by almost 40%. You know that $2 trillion tax cut? Raise your hand if you got any of it. Two tril- -- not -- not a penny paid for.


"But guess what?" Biden continued. "In two years, I've cut the national debt by $1 trillion 700 billion while doing all of this -- while doing all this -- $1 trillion 700 billion."

Had Trump "raised the national debt by almost 40%" as Biden claimed? Yes. When Trump handed the presidency over to Biden on Jan. 20, 2021, the debt was $27,751,896,236,414.77. That was up $7,804,591,681,202.28 -- or 39.1% -- from the $19,947,304,555,212.49 in debt that existed on the day of Trump's inauguration.

But had Biden "cut the national debt by $1 trillion 700 billion" as he claimed in that 2023 speech in Maine? No. As of July 28, 2023, when Biden said these words, the federal debt was $32,657,120,596,498.01 -- up $4,905,224,360,083.24 from the $27,751,896,236,414.77 it was on the day of Biden's inauguration.

It is true that the annual deficit -- not the debt -- declined from Trump's last full fiscal year in office to Biden's term. From fiscal 2019 to fiscal 2020 (the COVID year), the annual deficit spiked from $984.388 billion, according to the Monthly Treasury Statement, to $3.1319 trillion.

In fiscal years 2021 and 2022, it did drop before rising again in fiscal 2023. But in none of those years did the annual deficit fall back to its pre-COVID Trump-era level of 2019. In fiscal 2021, it was $2.775 trillion. In fiscal 2022, it was $1.375 trillion; and, in fiscal 2023, it was $1.695 trillion.


The drop in the annual deficit from the fiscal 2020 COVID-year high of $3.1319 trillion to the fiscal 2022 level of $1.375 trillion equaled $1.7569 trillion -- approximating Biden's claim that he had "cut the national debt by $1 trillion 700 billion."

But the $1.375 trillion deficit of fiscal 2022 did not cut the debt. It increased it.

Why would Biden in 2023 confuse the "deficit" with the "debt"?

Maybe he had a cold.


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