President Biden is submitting his latest budget request to Congress, which includes $2 trillion in plans to reduce deficits and future growth of the national debt. Republicans will most likely criticize the proposal, claiming that Democrats are responsible for the increasing debt. However, an analysis of House and Senate voting records and fiscal estimates of legislation from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (C.B.O.) shows that Republicans are equally responsible as Democrats for the biggest drivers of federal debt growth that passed Congress over the last two presidential administrations. The national debt has grown to $31.4 trillion from just under $6 trillion in 2000, during two Republican and two Democratic administrations, due to tax cuts, wars, economic stimulus, and growing retirement and health program costs. Since 2017, both Republicans and Democrats in Congress have joined to pass spending increases and tax cuts that the budget office projects will add trillions to the debt.
The analysis is based on the forecasts that the C.B.O. regularly issues for the federal budget, describing newly passed legislation that affects spending, revenues, and deficits, tallying the costs of those new laws over the course of a decade. The reports highlight 13 new laws that, by the C.B.O.’s projections, will combine to add more than $11.5 trillion to the debt, and nearly three-quarters of that new debt was approved in bills that gained the support of a majority of Republicans in at least one chamber of Congress. Some laws passed entirely along party lines, where Republicans added slightly more to the debt than Democrats because of the sweeping corporate and individual tax cuts that Mr. Trump signed into law at the end of 2017, which cost $2 trillion.
The tax cuts’ price tag outweighed the net cost of the two most fiscally consequential bills that Mr. Biden and Democrats passed along party lines: a $1.9 trillion economic aid bill in 2021 and a climate, health, and tax bill approved late last summer, projected to reduce future deficits by nearly $300 billion. House Republicans have pushed to extend the 2017 tax cuts, which would add trillions to the debt. They also support rolling back tax increases and enhanced tax enforcement measures approved by Mr. Biden, which would have the effect of adding hundreds of billions of dollars to deficits if they were to succeed.
Top congressional Republicans rarely acknowledge the role that their party has played in adding to deficits and debt in recent years, instead laying the blame on Mr. Biden and Democrats. Beyond Congress, Republican candidates have long criticized their party for not taking a harder line on spending and debt. “The last two Republican presidents added more than $10 trillion to the national debt,” said Nikki Haley, former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador who is now running for president.
The Biden administration officials blame Mr. Trump and former President George W. Bush for running up debt, particularly with tax cuts. They claim credit for a decline in the budget deficit under Mr. Biden, even though that mostly occurred because the federal government stopped passing emergency aid bills as the pandemic eased its grip on the economy. The budget office’s math is unsparing: It shows both parties acting, often together, to increase deficits and debt in recent years.
“I’m not going to sit and be lectured by MAGA Republicans in Congress about fiscal responsibility,” Mr. Biden wrote on Twitter.