McCarthy Cites Key Stats to Show It's Spending, Not Revenue, That's Causing Debt Problem


House Speaker Kevin McCarthy offered two key statistics to show that the federal government has a spending problem, not a taxing problem, when it comes to addressing the rapidly increasing national debt.

“We’ve got more revenue coming into our coffers [than] at any time in American history,” McCarthy told reporters on Wednesday as he discussed negotiations with the Biden White House to raise the debt ceiling.

“The problem is the Democrats had been in power, and they increased the amount of spending to the highest level we’ve ever had at any time in American history, especially [in relation] to GDP,” he added.

With the 2017 Trump tax cuts still largely in place, revenue to the federal treasury hit a record $4.9 trillion in fiscal year 2022, which was $850 billion more than FY 2021’s $4.05 trillion, also a record, according to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation.

By way of comparison, revenue to the treasury prior to the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was $3.3 trillion in FY 2017.

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Then-President Donald Trump and the Republicans promoted the plan by saying it would lead to more economic growth, and thereby more tax revenue, and it did.

Revenue as a percentage of GDP hit 19.2 percent in FY 2022, which is near historic highs, according to St Louis Federal Reserve Bank data.

The only other times the treasury has taken in more money in relation to the size of the entire economy was in 2000 at 19.75 percent and during World War II at 19.8 percent.

McCarthy is right: Democrats increased spending dramatically after taking power — setting aside 2020, when Congress, on a bipartisan basis, authorized trillions in emergency spending in response to the pandemic.

In FY 2019, the federal government spent $4.4 trillion. In FY 2020, with Trump at the helm during the COVID outbreak, spending went up to $6.5 trillion.

When Joe Biden came to office and Democrats gained control of both chambers of Congress, federal outlays went up to $6.8 trillion in FY 2021 and came back down somewhat to $6.3 trillion in FY 2022, though COVID was well on its way to being in the rearview mirror.

Biden submitted his FY 2024 budget to Congress in March, calling for $6.8 trillion in spending.

“I just think it’s common sense, it’s reasonable and it’s rational that we spend less next year than we spend this year. Every household would do this,” McCarthy told reporters. “We cannot continue down this path.”

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The Congressional Budget Office projected this month that the deficit will be $1.5 trillion for the year, up from February’s forecast of a $1.4 trillion shortfall. The CBO also calculated that deficits will average $2 trillion per year for the next 10 years under current spending policies.

The Republican-controlled House passed the Limit, Save, Grow Act last month. CBO estimates that the Republicans’ plan would save $4.8 trillion in federal spending over the next decade.

The bill suspends the nation’s debt ceiling through March 2024 or until the debt increases by $1.5 trillion, whichever comes first, in exchange for setting FY 2024 discretionary federal spending at FY 2022 levels.

It also sets a 1 percent growth cap on federal spending over the next decade and includes a work requirement for some who receive welfare payments.

Economists have pointed to the massive deficit spending in recent years as a primary cause of the high inflation the nation has experienced since Biden took office.

A version of this article originally appeared on Patriot Project.

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