WASHINGTON — President Biden wrongly claimed Tuesday that he lowered the national debt by $1.7 trillion — when in fact the debt grew by nearly $3.7 trillion during his first 23 months in office.
Biden made the error while using the terms “deficit” and “debt” interchangeably during remarks touting the slight decline in the annual inflation rate to 7.1% in November.
“We’ve done all of this while lowering the federal deficit in the two years we’ve been in office $1.7 trillion,” Biden said before incorrectly adding, “Let me say that again — $1.7 trillion we’ve lowered the federal debt.”
The national debt was roughly $27.75 trillion when Biden took office, according to the Congressional Research Service. It is about $31.43 trillion today.
Biden regularly touts the fact that the national deficit is declining, though fact-checkers note that much of the reduction is due to the expiration of bipartisan COVID-19 pandemic relief programs approved in 2020, rather than Biden’s own actions.
“No administration has ever cut the deficit that much,” Biden claimed Tuesday.
The federal deficit in fiscal year 2022, which ended Sept. 30, was the fourth-highest on record, according to the Treasury Department, with $1.38 trillion in federal spending beyond what authorities collected in revenue.
The US deficit topped out at $3.13 trillion in fiscal 2020 before declining to $2.77 trillion in fiscal 2021.
Last year, Biden signed a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill that passed without Republican support or revenue offsets. Opponents question the projected revenue to offset other large spending bills, including last year’s $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law and this year’s $280 billion bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, a $437 billion environmental and healthcare spending bill and a $270 billion veterans healthcare bill.