National Debt

Ramita Setty, Staff writer

With the presidential election coming up, voters’ main concern remains centered on how the candidates plan to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there is another issue that could be equally devastating, yet not discussed as often: the national debt. The national debt is the total sum of money that a national government has borrowed from foreign governments, investors and federal agencies. Currently, the U.S. national debt is over 27 trillion dollars. Comparatively, Canada’s national debt is about 907 billion dollars. The 26 trillion dollar discrepancy cannot just be written off because America has a marginally larger economy. The truth of the issue is that this level of the national debt has never been seen before in America. 

The national debt is extremely concerning for several reasons. For one, last month, the Congressional Budget Offices said that in the 2021 fiscal year, for the first time since World War 2, the national debt will exceed the size of the economy. America’s increasing national debt was only worsened by the economic depression and relief bills issued this year due to COVID-19. So how do Trump and Biden plan to address the national debt? 

The national debt is a “big second-term priority” for Trump, according to White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany in an interview with Forbes. She did not offer more concrete details as to how Trump plans to reduce this deficit. In 2016, when Trump was still a presidential candidate, he promised in an interview with the Washington Post to reduce the national debt over a period of eight years by reducing or eliminating trade deals with other countries such as China. Since Trump has taken office, the national debt has grown by more than 5.2 trillion dollars, although this debt increased substantially due to COVID-19. According to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, the national debt rose from more than 19.9 trillion dollars in 2017 to 26 trillion dollars in October. Trump’s proposed policies for this term plan to reduce healthcare spending by 150 billion dollars, add another 2.7 trillion dollars to infrastructure and domestic spending and keep Social Security and retirement spending the same while cutting taxes by 1.7 trillion dollars.

Like President Trump, Biden has not spoken much about how he plans to decrease the national debt. The former Vice President’s proposed policies will likely drive up the national debt even more. His plan calls for 3.4 trillion dollars in new revenue by 2030, mostly raised by tax increases on the rich. However, this would not be enough to cover all of his proposed spending, estimated to be about 5.4 trillion dollars. The Ascent has reported that Biden’s agenda of projects include infrastructure projects such as clean energy, technological research and more. He also plans to put 1.9 trillion dollars towards education, which includes free universal pre-kindergarten. He is also proposing to push for a version of the Affordable Care Act that includes a public option, called Bidencare, which will cost about 1.6 trillion dollars. His spending plan may be ambitious, and it is possible that the rift of 2 trillion dollars between funding and spending will push the national debt up further.

At the end of the day, debt is not only a political problem, but a personal one as well. It affects all American citizens and how much they will pay in taxes in the future. The effects of the national debt are something everyone should consider before casting their vote.