Neither Party Dealing With ‘Devastating’ National Debt, Tax Reform Advocate Says

Steve Hayes, chairman and president of Americans For Fair Taxation, spoke with NTD about the national debt and how he believes it will play very little into the general election. Mr. Hayes says both political parties want "people to stay asleep" because they use debt "to keep the masses quiet," but the effects of the debt on interest rates and the cost of living will become increasingly devastating to Americans.

The growing U.S. national debt presents a “great concern” to attorney and tax reform advocate Steven L. Hayes, but he’s skeptical about whether either of the two major U.S. political parties has what it takes to address the issue.

The U.S. national debt currently sits at over $34.6 trillion. That figure has grown over the years under Republican and Democratic Congresses and administrations.

Mr. Hayes serves as president and chairman of Americans For Fair Taxation, which advocates for doing away with the income tax and replacing it with a national retail sales tax. Speaking with NTD’s “Capitol Report” on Thursday, he argued that both major political parties have been willing to embrace debt spending, at least to avoid being seen advocating against entitlements for their constituents.

Entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid have been a focal point for a recent political confrontation. Last month, Democrat President Joe Biden advanced accusations that his Republican predecessor and prospective 2024 opponent, former President Donald Trump, was entertaining cuts to Social Security and Medicare. President Trump rebuffed that allegation, insisting he will “never do anything that will jeopardize or hurt” those entitlement programs.

“I think both parties in D.C. really want people to stay asleep because they see the debt as a way of continuing to keep the masses quiet and to buy votes,” Mr. Hayes said. “I don’t believe they see the Social Security problem as the problem that we see it or they would have done something already. They, I think, believe they’ll just borrow the money for this.”

While neither of the two 2024 major party candidates were willing to be seen cutting funding for Social Security and Medicare, Mr. Hayes argued continuing to borrow money to keep the programs solvent will carry its own set of consequences.

“Not only are you going to drive interest rates up for everybody else, you know, buying a home, buying a car, paying credit card debt, but you’re also going to see a real increase in the cost of living and the lowering of money that families have in their bank accounts to live. And that’s going to become more and more devastating,” he said.

While the debt has continued to grow across both Democratic and Republican administrations, both parties have signaled some concern over the issue. But Mr. Hayes argues there’s a gap between what members of both parties will say and their actual record handling the debt.

Mr. Hayes said President Biden’s treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, recently expressed concern about the debt.

“Of course, it’s only a problem for people like [Ms. Yellen] during election years, when it’s a popular thing to say,” he continued. “Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop the president’s administration from having a $2 trillion deficit. They’ve added $6 trillion to the deficit, or the national debt, rather, since they came in office.”

Mr. Hayes predicted President Trump will also have a difficult time campaigning in 2024 on a platform of tackling the growing U.S. debt, given his record in office.

“I think it’s going to play very little, unfortunately, into the election, because President Trump, even though he went in office saying, ‘I’m going to balance the budget and start reducing the debt within eight years,’ and of course, he was a big spender as well, he borrowed a lot of money,” Mr. Hayes said. “Now, you can blame COVID for some of that, and maybe a lot of that, but he has a hard time going in and saying ‘now I’ve suddenly got religion, and I’m going to reduce the debt.'”

The U.S. national debt stood at around $19.9 trillion when President Trump took office in January of 2017, according to U.S. Treasury Department data. It had risen to about $27.7 trillion by the time President Trump left office in January of 2021, a debt increase of about $7.8 trillion over his four-year term. The debt has grown about $6.9 trillion in a little over three years since President Biden took office.

The U.S. national debt trend is driven by existing legislation, which is primarily set by Congress.

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