National debt grew 39 percent under Trump

Sheila Weinberg  |  January 19, 2021

As Trump ends his term as President of the United States, he leaves behind quite the legacy. Included in his legacy will be a $7.7 trillion increase in the national debt, which amounts to almost $24,000 per person. This represents a 39 percent increase.

This calculation is based on the reported national debt, not the true national debt that we calculate at Truth in Accounting. The reported national debt is published by the U.S. Treasury and now totals more than $27.8 trillion. The true national debt, including unfunded Social Security and Medicare liabilities, totals more than $138.8 trillion. 

We include unfunded Social Security and Medicare liabilities in our true national debt calculation because the federal government has promised these retirement benefits to our seniors but has not set aside the money needed to fund them. 

The national debt is not only the responsibility of the President, but it is also Congress’ responsibility. Since the 1980s, the national debt has skyrocketed under Republicans and Democrats. Under Presidents Obama and Bush the reported national debt increased by 78 percent and 93 percent respectively. While the percentage of increase under Nixon’s and Clinton’s administrations were smaller, every other presidents’ was higher.

There are calls to deal with the facts when handling the coronavirus crisis. Our national debt crisis is intensifying at a rapid rate and I urge the new Biden Administration to use the facts when dealing with both crises.  We need to include the amount of unfunded Social Security and Medicare liabilities in the debt calculations because these are not just numbers they are promises that our seniors are counting on.

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