Publié par Bernard Martoia le 28 novembre 2016


In an early campaign’s meeting hold in Rochester, New Hampshire, on September 17, 2015, Republican candidate Donald Trump made a pledge to electors. “If I’m elected president, I’m accepting no salary, okay? That’s not a big deal for me.

A year later, Donald Trump has been elected president, and if he keeps his word, his $400 000-president salary’s cut will help a little bit to slow down national debt, which will reach $20 trillion on his inauguration day. (

When I lived in New York City in the nineties, there was an electronic clock placed on 42nd Street near Bryant Park, which alerted taxpayers. It was the idea from real estate developer Seymour Durst, who wanted to highlight the rising national debt. When the electronic billboard was set up in 1989, national debt was $3 trillion. I was pleased when I could read for the first time the fourth digit, which represented thousand dollars. I was neither there the day when national debt started declining nor when newborn red-tailed sibling hawks on a building roof on upper Fifth Avenue took their first flight in Central Park. If I am a climate change skeptic, I am a great lover of wilderness. I have hiked so far 16 000 miles on American trails.

The clock was switched off in 2000 because the debt was falling at the end of Clinton government. Seymour would have enjoyed seeing the shrinking debt but he died in 1995. After his passing, his son Douglas became president of the Durst organization, which owned and maintained the clock. He stated that the clock represented a non-partisan effort of promoting inter-generational equity. “We’re a family business. We think generationally, and we don’t want to see the next generation crippled by this burden.

The original clock, which was dismantled in 2004, was replaced by a new one at Times Square. Because of George Bush’s profligacy due to his fateful wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the new clock ran out of digits when national debt broke $10 trillion. Because of Wall Street meltdown in September 2008, national debt was never a concern for Obama government. It pitted Tea Party insurgency against the establishment. The entrenched republicans inside the House of Representatives thwarted debt ceiling increase asked by Obama government. As a result, federal agencies such as National Parks faced severe funding crush. Unfortunately, smooth President Obama won that arm wrestling in opinion polls, and bellicose republicans had to relinquish their claim or face defeat in elections. Consequently, national debt doubled again under Obama two-term presidency: from $10 trillion to $20 trillion.

If we exclude the Second World War period when national debt ratio to GDP reached 112% in 1945, the last two governments alike are the worst bookkeepers in American history. Even Lincoln government, which faced a civil war, did better than they did. US national debt as a percentage to GDP spiked to 30% in 1865 before dwindling steadily to almost nil on the eve of First World War.


In an interview with the Washington Post, Donald Trump said that he would be able to get rid of the $19 trillion national debt over a two-term presidency. I do not know if the interview was a hoax because it was held on April Fool’s Day, but most economists consider this task impossible because it requires cutting in half the annual $4 trillion budget to pay off bondholders. On his election night speech, Trump said that he would invest $1 trillion in renovating infrastructures.

In 2009 when Nobel Prize economist Paul Krugman scolded Obama government for not stimulating enough the US economy through public spending, thrifty German government amended the constitution to introduce the Schuldenbremse (debt brake), a balanced budget provision, that apply to both the federal government and the Länders (German states)

According to another article in the Washington Post, Donald Trump made 76 promises during his presidential campaign. However, he should focus his indomitable energy on one issue for future generations. He should amend the constitution as follow: « annual federal budgets should be balanced. » It would be the best way of fulfilling his motto in his victorious campaign of making America great again.

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