By Don C. Reed

What is the connection between  an  elephant and the national debt? Before  I get to that, I want to make  absolutely  clear that the financial expert  quoted in the  article  has  no connection with me  or my writing.   I just came across her testimony on  tax cuts  and thought  it  was  brilliant.  I shortened it,  and also provided a  URL  where you can read the whole thing. Any errors are my own.

Now, on to the pachyderm!

I was once  picked up   by a  teenage elephant.

Her name was Judy and I had entered her pen with the trainer’s approval. “She’s in a good mood,” he said.

I  was a professional scuba diver at Marine World  Africa USA, in Redwood  City, California, from 1972-86, and that  afternoon I had my  wetsuit  on.

Unfortunately, I also had a spare pair of rubber diver’s shoes (called booties) under my arm. Judy touched me all over with her trunk in case I was hiding an apple or a carrot somewhere. She found one of the booties– and put it in her mouth.

“No, elephant, don’t eat my shoe!”, I said.

Judy got angry. She spit  out the shoe, lifted me  with  her great head, and tossed me like a toy.  I landed on my back,  rolled out of the pen; the trainer controlled her  with a shouted command– and that  was the end of our relationship.

But I have never forgotten the strength of that half-grown  animal. She  did not harm me, but  the strength was vast,

To me, the national debt is like that power,  only more so, which could do whole nations irreparable harm.

But I am not an economist?  Quite right! And some would say I have no business offering opinions on the national debt.

I disagree. The  problem is too big to be decided by a tiny subset of experts.

How big? According  to Federal statistics,  America  is  now  $34 trillion in  debt, roughly $100,000  for every man, woman and  child in America. (1)

We  need  an “all hands on deck” approach. We  can educate ourselves, listen to genuine experts,, and know at least a little about the threat we face.

Where did it come  from? The reason  we have such  an enormous  national  debt  is due to the  tax cuts of two Republican Presidents. Let me say that again:

Two  Republican Presidents gave us the national debt: George W.  Bush  and Donald J.  Trump. Before them,  we basically   did not have a national debt. (2)

But, they  argue,  tax cuts  are good  for the economy. Are  they?  Listen  to the testimony  of a genuine expert, Sara Jacoby. Please note: for reasons of clarity, I have shortened  her remarks. Errors are mine…Don C.  Reed

The  following is drawn from the Testimony of Samantha Jacoby, senior tax legal analyst, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Senate Committee on Budget: May 17, 2023 (1).

“After decades of costly, regressive, and ineffective tax cuts, a new course (is) needed.

“…tax cuts enacted in the last 25 years– in 2001 and 2003 under President Bush, as well as those enacted in 2017 under President Trump— gave (huge financial benefits) to households in the top 1%  as  well as to…large corporations; greatly increasing wealth inequality.

“These tax cuts cost significant federal revenue, adding to the national debt and limiting our ability to invest in policies that contribute to shared prosperity.

“Extending the Trump tax cuts that expire at the end of 2025 will mostly benefit the already well-off. If not paid for, these will add (much) to the nation’s long term fiscal challenges.

“…extending (these tax cuts) would benefit households in the top 1% more than twice as much as those in the bottom 60%… providing a roughly $41,000 annual tax cut for the top 1% compared to just $500 for households in the bottom 60%….

“This would cost around $300 billion per year.

“It would be in  addition to the large benefits high-income households would continue to receive from the 2017 tax laws permanent provisions.

“Instead of more of these failed…  Bush/ Trump tax cuts, policymakers should set a new course… reconsidering the large tax breaks for high-income/high-wealth households.

“Doing so would … raise substantial revenues that could be used to address the nation’s long term fiscal challenges…

“This approach stands in stark contrast to the House Republican (approach) which would force deep cuts in a host of national priorities, leave more people hungry, homeless, and without health coverage: and (by cutting the budget  for  IRS staff) make it easier for wealthy people to cheat on their taxes…(2)



3.    Fiscal Data Explains the National Debt

Don C. Reed is the author of four books on the California stem cell program,  including most recently: Science, Politics, Stem Cells and Genes: CALIFORNIA’S WAR ON CHRONIC DISEASE, from World Scientific Publishers Inc., available at a discount from:

Visit his website at:
Reed has also written numerous books and award-winning articles on sharks, dolphins, eels, seals and killer whales, based on 15 years as a professional diver for Marine World Africa  USA. His books are available at

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