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Is Joe Scarborough Right About the GOP and the National Debt?

The Fiscal Times Staff

Former GOP congressman and current Trump antagonist Joe Scarborough laid into the president and his party this week, finding fault with, among other things, their track record on deficit spending. "Seventeen years (after the 9/11 attacks), endless wars abroad and reckless policies at home have produced annual deficits approaching $1 trillion,” Scarborough wrote in The Washington Post Monday, adding, “President Trump’s Republican Party will create more debt in one year than was generated in the first 200 years of America’s existence.”

The nonpartisan, fact-checking website Politifact reviewed the claim and ruled that it was “mostly true.” In 1976, the public U.S. debt sat at $477.4 billion, and all public debt was less than $629 billion, Politifact said. In 2017, the Republican-controlled Congress and White House created $497.8 billion in public debt, and $666.3 billion in debt overall. Accordingly, “If you use the period 1776 to 1976, Scarborough is correct.”

Politifact did add an important caveat, though: “it’s worth noting that much of today’s debt picture owes something to guidelines for mandatory spending and net interest for past debts, both of which were shaped by both parties.”  

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