Donald J. Trump wants to Make America Great Again, but he’s recently drawn scrutiny for his claim that he could easily pay down the national debt in eight years.
Politicians and economists generally cite the U.S. national debt as being somewhere around $19 trillion. Of course, that’s in addition to the estimated $11.9 trillion in personal debt held by U.S. households, so far.
So could Trump actually use his famous business accolades and alleged genius to make the country’s $19 trillion debt disappear? Economists doubt it, and stories about the claim have used words like “crazy,” “impossible,” “fantasy,” and “not credible,” which is technically two words.
In order to get rid of the debt in just eight years, Trump would likely need to not only lower current spending significantly but also come up with an additional $2.4 trillion in revenue each year.
Trump has said he could raise at least $16 trillion by selling federal government assets like buildings, land, oil, and other energy resources, but again, economists disagree.
Speaking to MSNBC, Trump advisor Barry Bennett explained the debt plan as a kind of government-sponsored fire sale on national land.
“We can get rid of government buildings we’re not using, we can extract the energy from government lands, we can do all kinds of things to extract value from the assets that we hold… Do you know how much land we have? You know how much oil is off shore? And in government lands? Easily.”
The U.S. Government Accountability Office estimates that the federal government only owns a maximum of $3.1 trillion in assets. So in order to raise $16 trillion, this hypothetical Trump administration would have to sell things like national park land, mineral rights, and the timber and other natural resources on federal land.
During this election year, about one in five Americans meets the standards of debt hardship, so it’s no wonder Trump is finding many sympathetic ears among the voters.
Of course, like the other Republican presidential candidates, it remains to be seen how Trump could somehow raise an extra $2.4 trillion in revenue while simultaneously lowering taxes dramatically.