Yes, Hillary Clinton’s Tax Plan Would Add to the National Debt

October 20, 2016, 3:17 AM UTC

Hillary Clinton may have just muttered the “No new taxes” line of the 2016 election.

On Wednesday night at the third and final presidential debate, Clinton said that as president, she wouldn’t add a penny to the debt. That would make Clinton the first president since Jimmy Carter not to add to the debt–in other words, an unlikely scenario.

On Tuesday, the non-partisan Tax Policy Center said that Clinton’s plan, which would raise taxes, would lower the debt by $1.4 trillion over the next decade. But that’s from where the debt is expected to be based on current tax rates, not where it is today.

What’s more, that’s only half the story. The Tax Policy Center’s analysis didn’t take into account Clinton’s spending proposals. Factor in her spending proposals and the debt is projected to grow from $14 billion currently to $23 billion in a decade, or roughly nine trillion pennies., according to an analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Government,

A 64% increase in the size of the debt sounds like a lot, but most economists measure the debt as a percentage of GDP. And GDP would grow under Clinton as well. All told, Clinton’s plan is expected to increase the debt to 86% from a current 77%. And it’s only one percentage point above where debt it expected to grow now. Under no change in current law, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the debt-to-GDP ratio would rise to 85% anyway.

Of course, the same folks that project the debt to rise under Clinton say it will rise to $28 trillion under Donald Trump’s plan, who plans to cut taxes as well as spend money on infrastructure, and not cut entitlements.

But here’s the thing, the tax breaks that the CBO says will likely sunset, probably won’t. So Clinton’s even tax increases, when balanced with the continuation of other cuts, won’t likely produce as much revenue. So debt is probably likely to rise even more pennies than $9 trillion.



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