Email #315: “reducing debt”?

Although I disagree with you on many issues, I consider you an expert on the national debt, and I share your concern regarding its continuing increase. The Congressional Budget Office reported this month that the deficit now stands at $20.38 trillion, up from $19.95 trillion in January. That’s a rise of nearly a half trillion in just the first nine months of President Trump’s term.

But the President says the debt is actually decreasing. He said on Fox News last week:

“The country, we took it over in 20 trillion 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. Possibly picked up the whole thing in terms of the first nine months. In terms of value. So you can say in one sense, we are really increasing values and may be in a sense, we are reducing debt.”

So even though the debt increased by $420,000,000,000, the President says it decreased by $5,200,000,000 because of the stock market. He also says that $5.2 trillion is “possibly” the whole $10 trillion.

I’m no mathematician, but I think 5.2 is roughly half of 10. I’m also not an expert on the national debt like you. So could you please explain in what “sense” we are reducing debt? What “value” is the President referring to? Is there any way that the stock market, which reflects private investor wealth through the fluctuating prices of corporate stocks, affects the debt accrued by the federal government?

Also, does the President’s statement give you any insight into why Secretary Tillerson reportedly called him a “fucking moron”?

Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

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