As the weeks and months of the Twitter presidency of Donald J. Trump move along, his allies are getting desperate for successes to tout to prove that their hero is truly making America great again. Trump got Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court and a healthcare bill through one house of Congress. But we have yet to see any big economic policy pronouncements, and Trump's entire raison d'être appears to be eliminating any progress the country made under the black guy.
But, bless their cold little hearts, Trump's disastrous first six months haven't stopped his fans in conservative media from spinning away, grasping at anything they can to show the rest of us that Trump is some sort of presidential miracle worker. And one of the most pathetic attempts at that came via The Gateway Pundit and the man affectionately known in the blogosphere as the "stupidest man on the internet," Jim Hoft.
For the latest bit of absurdity to come from his site Jim Hoft actually turned the keyboard over to his twin brother Joe. And who can blame him? The piece that Joe Hoft published on July 4 is so dumb that even the stupidest man on the internet apparently didn't want to take credit for it.
Joe Hoft's headline proclaims that since Inauguration Day, Donald Trump has saved the United States over $1 trillion dollars compared to the same period in Barack Obama's presidency. Hoft pulled out data from TreasuryDirect.gov to make his claim.
Of course Hoft doesn't bother to remind his readers that at the beginning of 2009 we were in the depths of a recession, and at the beginning of 2017 we were in a period of sustained economic growth. He also doesn't mention that the bulk of the increase in Obama's debt came in the form of the economic stimulus package that had been passed by Congress, and which has been widely credited with preventing the US economy from slipping into a full-blown depression.
Hoft goes on from there to accuse the "deep state" of monkey business when it comes to reporting the debt. He thinks that Trump may have actually lowered the debt even more than the treasury numbers show, but for reasons he can't explain the amount of debt didn't move for over three months.
What is in question is the amount of debt reported since March 15th. The amount of US debt under President Trump decreased by as much as $101 billion between January 20th (the date of President Trump’s inauguration) and March 15th. However, since March 15th through today the amount of US debt that is being reported by the US Treasury has not materially changed. During this entire period since March 15th the debt stayed the same (within $1 billion) until June 30th when it moved $2 billion lower.
If Joe had managed to use the Google correctly, he might have found the answer why. It's because of the approaching debt ceiling. CNBC reports:
Since March, the Treasury has used extraordinary measures to meet its debt obligations. Many analysts believe that authority will be exhausted around October.
During the Obama administration a similar thing happened in 2015. But in that instance Hoft suspects that the reason was to hide an increasing debt. It wasn't. Even the story from the right-wing CNS News, which Hoft links to, explained what happened.
On March 13, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew sent an initial letter to House Speaker John Boehner and other congressional leaders informing them that he was planning to declare a “debt issuance suspension period.”
“Beginning on Monday, March 16, the outstanding debt of the United States will be at the statutory limit,” Lew said in that letter. “In anticipation of reaching that date, Treasury has suspended until further notice the issue of State and Local Government Series securities, which count against the debt limit.”
Now, a smart man might notice that both of those things happened around the same point in different years, and realize that there had to be a simple explanation. A smart man might also be aware that Congress, not the White House, holds the purse strings, and that for six of his eight years in office President Obama was dealing with a Republican controlled legislature. But Joe Hoft, like his brother, is not a smart man, as he proves every time he sits down to write.
Hoft's brain, or whatever holds his ears apart, would really start to hurt if he were left to ponder this fact: typically, a new president operates under the budget and economic conditions left by his predecessor for most of his first year in office. So ok, Joe, you say the national debt is tumbling since Trump took over? Repeat after me: "Thanks, Obama!"