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Trump, Biden defend economic records on debate stage

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(The Center Square) – Democratic President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump sparred over the economy but gave few specific details about how they plan to handle spending, taxation, inflation and the economy.

In the first presidential debate between a sitting president and a former president, the two candidates told different versions of how they had previously presided over such challenges. And they blamed each other for the nation’s economic difficulties.

Trump said the only jobs Biden created were for illegal immigrants and recovery jobs after the COVID-19 pandemic. Biden said he inherited an economic mess from Trump’s handling of the pandemic.

Both men have a record of adding to the national debt. Trump approved $8.4 trillion of new ten-year borrowing during his full term in office, or $4.8 trillion excluding the CARES Act and other pandemic relief, according to the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Budget. The same group said Biden, in his first three years and five months in office, approved $4.3 trillion of new ten-year borrowing, or $2.2 trillion excluding the American Rescue Plan, according to the same group.

“Inflation is killing our country,” Trump said, noting Americans can’t afford the on-average 20% spike in prices on goods and services under the Biden administration.

Biden said his administration will fix the problem.

“We’re working to bring down the price around the kitchen table,” Biden said. “And that’s what we’re going to get done.”

Average food prices also have increased by 20% since 2021.

Trump said his tax cuts would boost the economy. Biden said extending Trump’s tax cuts would only benefit the wealthy.

Polls show voters are concerned about inflation, rising prices and the economy more than other issues.

Biden proposed raising taxes on the wealthy to address the national debt. Trump said Biden would wipe out social safety nets such as Social Security and Medicare because of Biden’s immigration policies.

A recent analysis from the Congressional Budget Office showed that the national debt is expected to reach its all-time high in three years, exceeding the record set after World War II. CBO also reported that interest costs are growing rapidly, rising from $352 billion in 2021 to $892 billion in 2024 to a projected $1.7 trillion in 2034, more than quadrupling in just 13 years, according to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget put it this way: “During the next presidential term, the national debt is projected to reach a record share of the economy, interest costs are slated to surge, the debt limit will re-emerge, discretionary spending caps and major tax cuts are scheduled to expire, and major trust funds will be hurtling toward insolvency.”

U.S. interest spending is expected to increase in the coming years. In March, the Congressional Budget Office projected “interest costs more than double in relation to GDP between 2024 and 2054, driven by rising interest rates and growing debt.”

In February, a report from the U.S Government Accountability Office found federal spending is projected to remain unsustainable in the decades to come.

“The federal government faces an unsustainable long-term fiscal path,” according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office report. “We project that debt held by the public as a share of the economy will more than double over the next 30 years and will grow faster than the economy over the long term if current revenue and spending policies are not changed.”

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