I’m so old I remember when conservatives cared about the annual budget deficit and the national debt.
Just kidding, they only care when Democrats control Congress or the White House.
During times of Democratic leadership, deficit spending dominates every campaign ad and most nightly news cycles. Liberals wasting money is a big deal.
Sean Hannity was apoplectic about President Barack Obama raising the national debt a little more than $1 trillion a year during his tenure. As early as 2010, Fox News used a national debt clock to show the number growing to $13 trillion. When Obama left office a year ago, our country’s debt was more than $19 trillion.
Thanks to an improving economy, in his last four years, Obama’s deficits averaged less than a half trillion dollars per year.
In President Donald Trump’s first year with Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, you would expect a huge improvement over the eight years of liberal leadership.
You would be disappointed.
Not only has the pace of the national debt continued under President Trump, it has accelerated. And if you liked the deficit spending of Trump’s first year, you will love the next one. The "big win" of giving tax cuts to the donor class and corporations is already having a negative effect. It isn’t good for debt when spending stays the same and revenue drops for any reason. In a better economy, Congress decided to lower revenue on purpose.
Now we are facing the next debt-ceiling limit of $20.5 trillion about six weeks earlier than expected.
Even if you believe in trickle-down economics, you have to understand that there is a reason they don’t call it floodgates open economics. Passing a tax cut won’t have immediate effects. Companies will make rapid cuts when an outside factor causes profits to decrease. But it takes CEOs and boards of directors a lot longer to decide to expand operations because those factors turn in their favor.
Believe it or not, sometimes they don’t expand at all and they just enjoy more profits for themselves and their shareholders and never do anything that creates growth to help repay lost revenue from tax cuts.
Look at Oklahoma and Kansas. They did the same thing Trump and the Congress did with the same flawed logic. Seven years into the terms of Mary Fallin and Sam Brownback — who recently took a job in the Trump administration — both states are still dealing with the long-term effects of lost revenue.
None of the great waste crusaders from either state has identified enough government waste to make a dent in the revenue they stopped collecting. The tax cuts they enacted have done little to help expand the economy to make up the deficits.
Forced cuts to education and other essential state services have become a normal part of every legislative term.
That won’t happen to Trump and Congress. They don’t have to balance their budget — and it isn’t likely they ever will. John Boehner helped enact a measure that any increase in the debt ceiling would be matched with equal spending cuts. Those rules have been unwound in the past couple of years by the GOP Congress.
The only plan being discussed right now includes cuts to entitlements like Medicaid and Medicare as well as Social Security.
Any change will require 60 votes in the Senate and the Republicans are far from that. They were aware of that fact when they passed the tax cut bill. So we have another policy in place that will accelerate the annual deficit and add to the national debt faster than anytime during the Obama administration.
Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell knew what they were doing when they did it. When Obama signed the checks, the national debt was a big deal. With Trump’s name on the line, Congress is signing blank checks and watching the national debt grow rapidly and the debt ceiling crashing down on us faster than expected.
It is irresponsible and far from conservative.
Kent Bush is publisher of the Shawnee (Oklahoma) News-Star and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.