Home / Politics / Donald Trump has a weird, wrong idea about the stock market's relationship to the national debt

Donald Trump has a weird, wrong idea about the stock market's relationship to the national debt

US President Donald Trump makes his way to board Air Force One before departing from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on October 11, 2017. .Trump is on his way to Pennsylvania to deliver a speech on tax reform. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN        (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Donald Trump blathered to reliable toady Sean Hannity on Wednesday night, with predictable results in that Trump got softball questions and answered them with lies and nonsense. But one of his specific nonsense answers could not have been predicted:

The country — we took it over and owed over 20 trillion. As you know the last eight years, they borrowed more than it did in the whole history of our country. So they borrowed more than $10 trillion, right? And yet, we picked up 5.2 trillion just in the stock market.

Possibly picked up the whole thing in terms of the first nine months, in terms of value. So you could say, in one sense, we’re really increasing values. And maybe in a sense we’re reducing debt. But we’re very honored by it. And we’re very, very happy with what’s happening on Wall Street.

Does … does Donald Trump think that stock market gains affect the national debt? Because that’s really not how it works. See, stock market gains mean money goes to individual shareholders—mostly rich ones—while the national debt is a government issue. Maybe stock market gains could affect the national debt in the form of revenue from taxes on shareholders, but … the two things are just different. Not the same. 

Philip Bump suggests that the fact that Hannity changed the subject rather than following up “is a disservice to Trump,” because:

An actual journalist might have pressed the president on the question: Are you saying that the market increase is related to the debt? How? That would have prompted clarity from Trump that would have almost certainly made his comments seem less odd. But Hannity, uninterested in pressing Trump at all, let it be.

This seems like an optimistic take on both Trump’s understanding of the issues and his willingness to clarify his bizarre statements in any way that might feel to him like backing down. 

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