Biden's Budget Lies

Terence P. Jeffrey | March 30, 2022 | 5:06am EDT
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President Joe Biden announces his budget for Fiscal Year 2023 on March 28, 2022. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
President Joe Biden announces his budget for Fiscal Year 2023 on March 28, 2022. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

"Show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value."

When releasing his fiscal 2023 budget proposal on Monday, President Joe Biden said this was something his father had told him.

He then made a claim about a "value" his budget proposal purportedly advances.

"The first value is fiscal responsibility," Biden said.

That is a lie.

In his speech, Biden elaborated on this lie.

"The previous administration, as you all know, ran up record budget deficits. In fact, the deficit went up every year under my predecessor," he said.

"My administration is turning that around," Biden continued.

"Last year," he said, "we cut the deficit by more than $350 billion. This year, we're on track to cut the deficit by more than $1.3 trillion. $1.3 trillion. That would be the largest one-year reduction in the deficit in U.S. history."

But what do the Treasury's official numbers actually tell us about the recent history of federal spending and deficits?

In the first three years of the Trump administration, the deficit grew — but never exceeded $1 trillion. In fiscal 2017, it was $665,826,000,000. In fiscal 2018, it was $778,996,000,000. In fiscal 2019, it was $984,388,000,000.

To be sure, these were very high deficits. But they were less than what Biden has planned for post-COVID America.

In fiscal 2019, before the pandemic, the federal government spent $4,446,611,000,000. But, in fiscal 2020, with the pandemic on, federal spending climbed to $6,551,872,000,000 — a one-year increase of $2,105,261,000,000. The deficit that year jumped to a record $3,131,917,000,000.

In fiscal 2021, the fiscal year in which Biden took office, government spending increased again to $6,821,532,000,000 and the deficit was $2,775,553,000,000.

This decline in the deficit from a pandemic-period record of $3,131,917,000,000 to a still-astronomical $2,775,553,000,000 is what Biden was talking about when he said, "Last year, we cut the deficit by more than $350 billion."

This year, the administration estimates the deficit will be $1,415,000,000,000. That is what Biden meant when he said, "This year, we're on track to cut the deficit by more than $1.3 trillion."

Now, Biden has proposed a budget that projects continuing annual deficits of more than $1 trillion — in the post-pandemic era.

He will not bring the deficit back down, for example, to the $778,996,000,000 deficit that the federal government ran in fiscal 2018, which was the first full fiscal year President Donald Trump was in office.

As of Monday, the total federal debt was $30,316,415,445,123.62. $6,512,008,255,649.32 of that was in what the Treasury calls "intragovernmental holdings." That consists largely of money the Treasury has borrowed from the Social Security trust fund to pay current expenses that have nothing to do with Social Security.

The other $23,804,407,189,474.30 in federal debt consists of what the Treasury calls "debt held by the public." This is debt that has been financed through the sale of Treasury securities.

Under Biden's budget proposal, what is going to happen to this $23.8 trillion in "debt held by the public"? Will it be paid off? No. Will it be paid down? No.

According to Table S-10 in Biden's proposal, it is going to grow to $39.542 trillion by 2032. That is an increase of approximately $15.738 trillion from what the debt was Monday.

In fiscal 2023, according to the estimates Biden published in Table S-10 of his budget proposal, the federal debt held by the public will grow by $1.197 trillion. In each of the nine years after that, it will grow by increasing amounts. In 2032, the last year estimated in Biden's budget, the debt will increase by $1.815 trillion.

"The value is fiscal responsibility," Biden told America when he released this budget.

Anyone who actually looks at Biden's budget proposal, which is posted on the White House website, will know this is not true.

As of March 29, the day after Biden released his proposal, the U.S. population is 332,589,749, according to the Census Bureau. Biden's plan to increase the federal debt held by the public by $15.738 trillion would add approximately $47,320 in debt on behalf of every person now living in this country.

The total federal debt held by the public of $39,542,000,000,000 that Biden now projects for 2032 would equal approximately $181,891 for each of the 332,589,749 people now living in the country.

That also would be approximately $250,707 for each of the 157,722,000 people in the United States who, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, actually had a job as of February of this year.

And it would equal approximately $300,002 for each of the 131,806,000 who worked full-time in February.

According to Zillow, the value of a typical home in the United States in January 2021, when Biden took office, was $272,000. (It has now increased to $331,533).

According to Harvard University's website, the 2021-22 school year there will cost a student approximately $74,528 for tuition, fees, board and room. At that rate, four full years at Harvard would cost $298,112.

In other words, under Biden's budget projections, in just 10 years the share of the federal debt per the current number of full-time workers in this country will be approximately equivalent to the current cost of a typical American home or a Harvard education.

(Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of

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