Trump (Wrongly) Claims An Improved Stock Market Resulted In A Lower National Debt

By on October 12, 2017

Trump’s making things up again.

This time, while speaking to FOX News host Sean Hannity, Trump made a claim that, because the economy is improving, so too is the national debt of the United States.

“The country — we took it over and owed over 20 trillion” in debt, Trump said. “As you know the last eight years, they borrowed more than it did in the whole history of our country. So they borrowed more than $10 trillion, right? And yet, we picked up 5.2 trillion just in the stock market.”

Trump elaborated further. “[We] possibly picked up the whole thing in terms of the first nine months, in terms of value,” he said. “So you could say, in one sense, we’re really increasing values.  And maybe in a sense, we’re reducing debt. But we’re very honored by it.”

Trump might be honored, but he has no idea what he’s talking about. The national debt is in no way tied to the success or failures of Wall Street. Congress must appropriate tax revenues to pay off debts — and while some taxes from Wall Street do reach the treasury, by no means has the total taxable income from the gains in the stock market covered even a small proportion of the national debt.

Trump is referring to $5.2 trillion in gains that the stock market has seen since his election, a point he alluded to in a tweet earlier this week.

But that $5.2 trillion won’t go directly to the treasury coffers, and only a small portion of it will actually be taxed. By no stretch of the imagination does it “pick up the whole thing,” as Trump implied it might have done.

In his interview, Trump also exaggerated the amount of debt the Obama administration added. Trump said that Obama added “more than $10 trillion” — essentially saying he doubled the total debt level. In actuality, while Obama did increase the debt by 68 percent, his predecessor, George W. Bush, increased it by 101 percent. Trump’s $10 trillion assertion is also 25 percent higher than what the administration actually added to the debt.

Trump’s discussion with Hannity about the improvements in the economy and the national debt aren’t just rosy, optimistic visions for the country — they are fictional accounts of how the debt gets paid off. When it comes to disseminating so-called “fake news,” Trump needs to stop threatening news networks, and realize that what he’s peddling to the American people himself is untrue.