President Joe Biden’s claim that he has personally reduced the federal deficit was thoroughly debunked on Monday by a CNN fact-checking reporter, who described the claim as a “reversal of reality” from “bizarro world.”
What is Biden claiming?
Last week, Biden boasted that he is responsible for lowering the federal deficit and even claimed his leadership has placed the country on track for a record-setting deficit reduction this year.
“Let me remind you again: I reduced the federal deficit,” Biden said last Wednesday. “All the talk about the deficit from my Republican friends, I love it. I’ve reduced it $350 billion in my first year in office. And we’re on track to reduce it, by the end of September, by another 1 trillion, 500 billion dollars — the largest drop ever.”
But what is the truth?
The truth, according to CNN reporter Daniel Dale, is that the budget deficit was already projected to fall when Biden entered office. In fact, deficit reduction would have been even greater without Biden’s policies.
“There is no doubt that the deficit has fallen under President Biden so far. It was about $3.1 trillion under President Trump in fiscal 2020. It was about $360 billion lower than that, so about $2.8 trillion in fiscal 2021, mostly under President Biden,” Dale began during an interview on “New Day.”
“But even with that $360 billion decline, experts I spoke to still scoffed at the idea that President Biden is personally responsible for having reduced the deficit,” he continued. “In fact, one advocate of deficit reduction, Marc Goldwein of the Committee for Responsible Federal Budget, told me that this claim is almost bizarro world, a reversal of reality … because the deficit was expected to fall by more than $360 billion at the time President Biden took office.
“In fact, at the time, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office had projected that the deficit would fall by more than $870 billion in 2021 if President Biden did not implement new policy,” Dale explained.
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Citing Biden’s pandemic relief bill, the infrastructure bill, and the expansion of food stamp benefits, Dale explained, “Whatever you think of all those policies, they all cost money. So there ended up being less deficit reduction than expected.”
In fact, the reason Biden can claim he has reduced the deficit at all is because of temporary pandemic-related spending.
“Basically, there was an explosion of short-term spending in Trump’s last year because of pandemic relief programs and tax revenue collapsed because the economy crashed; the deficit hit a record at 3.1 trillion that was more than triple what it was the year prior,” Dale explained. “But because a lot of that 2020 spending was short-term, the deficit was almost certainly going to fall in the coming years no matter who is president.
“So, when President Biden talks about a projected $1.5 trillion decline in the deficit this year, even if that does happen, the deficit would still be higher this year than initially projected when he took office,” Dale reiterated.