President Trump has six bankruptcies on his record as a businessman. And a new report reveals has repeatedly expressed a lack of interest in the approaching consequences of America’s national debt crisis because the fallout will occur after his presidency, according to multiple sources close to Trump.
“I never once heard him talk about the debt,” one former senior White House official told The Daily Beast.
Senior officials attempted to illustrate to Trump the gravity of the situation in early 2017 with visual aids that depicted an upcoming “hockey stick” spike in the national debt sometime after 2024.
“Yeah, but I won’t be here,” the president replied, according to a source who was in the room.
One current senior Trump administration official said Trump “doesn’t really care” about the debt, favoring instead rhetoric about “jobs and growth, whatever that means.”
America currently owes its creditors about $21.7 trillion. Stephen Moore, an economic adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign, says the president believes that if the economy grows fast enough, the problem will take care of itself, saying “We’re gonna grow our way out of it.”
While the economy has grown under Trump’s tenure, the federal deficit also spiked by a whopping 33 percent compared to the previous year. This is partially due to Trump’s massive tax cuts for wealthy Americans, along with various increases in discretionary spending. The U.S. Treasury currently projects that it will more than double its borrowing for 2019.
Three White House officials have also reported multiple instances of Trump instructing former National Economic Council director Gary Cohn to simply print more money in response to debt concerns.
“He’d just say, run the presses, run the presses,” one former senior administration official told The Washington Post. “Sometimes it seemed like he was joking, and sometimes it didn’t.”
Trump was repeatedly attacked over his bankruptcies during his 2016 campaign, particularly when he broke from decades of presidential tradition by refusing to release his tax returns to the public.
His businesses have filed for at least six Chapter 11 bankruptcies, which allows companies to wipe away many of its debts so that a new corporate budget can pay off a smaller portion of remaining debts. Shareholders often lose most of their equity, but bankruptcy lawyer Michael Venditto says that “Chapter 11 is how you reshape and restructure a company that has problems. It doesn’t indicate anything nefarious or even bad management.”
Indeed, Trump himself has bragged about his strategic use of his bankruptcies.
“I’ve cut debt — by the way, this isn’t me personally, it’s a company,” Trump said. “Basically I’ve used the laws of the country to my advantage and to other people’s advantage… just as many, many others on top of the business world have.”
But New York lawyer Edward Weisfelner, who was involved in an attempt to buy most of the debt from Trump Entertainment Resorts, said, “There’s such a thing as good faith.”
“The purpose of bankruptcy laws is to protect companies, their customers and employees, to give them a second chance and to treat claim holders fairly,” Weisfelner said. “If bankruptcy is used instead to artificially elevate your equity interests above legitimate creditor claims and avoid obligations then you could argue that’s not what the laws were designed to do.”
President Trump has recently started demanding that top advisers combat the country’s budget deficits, but many are skeptical as to how he will do so, given that he also has forbidden them from cutting some of America’s most egregious expenses.
“We’re going to start paying down debt,” Trump promised at a White House event in October. “We have a lot of debt.”
Nathan Wellman is a Grit Post contributing editor in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter: @LIGHTNINGWOW. You can also email him at info AT gritpost DOT com.
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