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2/11/2018 12:05 pm  #1


The Republicans Have Become the Party of Debt

The Republicans Have Become the Party of Debt

NYT EDITORIAL BOARD FEB. 10, 2018

https://static01.nyt.com/images/2018/02/11/opinion/sunday/11sun1/11sun1-superJumbo.jpg

So much for all that sanctimony about fiscal responsibility. Forever and always, it can now be said that Republican lawmakers care about the federal deficit only when they want to use it to bash Democratic presidents.

After embracing $1.5 trillion in debt by slashing taxes on corporations and wealthy families in December, the Republican leaders in Congress pushed through a two-year budget deal on Friday that will increase spending by nearly $400 billion. While a lot of that money will be spent on important priorities like disaster relief, infrastructure and education, a big chunk of it will go to an excessive and unnecessary military buildup. Contrast this with the parsimony Republican lawmakers displayed in 2011 when they refused to raise the federal debt limit until President Barack Obama agreed to deep cuts to government programs.

“If you were against President Obama’s deficits, and now you’re for the Republican deficits, isn’t that the very definition of hypocrisy?” Senator Rand Paul said as he held up passage of the budget bill for a few hours — perhaps until he realized that the definition fit him, too, since he had voted for the tax cuts that will blow up the deficit.

Deficit spending can be an indispensable tool — to revive an ailing economy, invest in productive infrastructure, rebuild after natural disasters and pay for unavoidable wars. And it was vital for the government to run large deficits after the financial crisis, when the country was tumbling into the worst recession since the Depression.

But the Republican leaders who opposed stimulus spending in 2011 and 2012, when many Americans were struggling to find jobs and the economy was in the doldrums, are now making the absurd argument that the government ought to do more to fuel the economy at a time when the unemployment rate is about half what it was back then and corporate profits have soared.


Even with the economy growing at a decent clip, the government should raise spending on domestic programs that were slashed when Republicans demanded deep cuts. Nondefense spending relative to the economy is the lowest it has been since 1961 — 3.1 percent of gross domestic product, far below the long-term average of 3.8 percent, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.


Dilapidated roads, bridges, railways and water systems need to be upgraded and repaired. Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida still need help recovering from last year’s hurricanes and making themselves more resilient to future storms. Lawmakers also must spend more to end the opioid epidemic and increase access to substance abuse treatment. The budget bill only partly addresses many of these and other needs.

But the deal Mr. Trump approved on Friday also includes a $165 billion increase in military spending over two years, more than the Trump administration had even requested. Military spending will jump to $716 billion in 2019, from $634 billion in 2017. In inflation-adjusted terms, that would put the Pentagon’s budget well above the Reagan buildup of the 1980s and nearly as high as in 2010 — the peak of military spending since World War II — when more than 200,000 troops were deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq. Even before this latest increase, the Pentagon’s budget exceeded the combined military spending of the next eight biggest defense spenders globally — a list that includes Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and India.

Some of the defense increases are understandable. The cost per active service member grew by 61 percent from 2001 to 2012, after adjusting for inflation, because of new and expanded benefits such as incentive bonuses, raises and increased health care expenses. But other increases arose from a dysfunctional budget process manipulated by a defense industry that woos Congress with unneeded or extravagant weapons. These include the F-35 fighter jet, missile defense programs that are plagued with problems, and a plan to modernize the nuclear arsenal over a period of 30 years at a cost of more than $1 trillion.

Democrats went along with this budget. They’re the minority party and have limited leverage, and at the moment they are not deploying it very effectively, as has been demonstrated by their failure thus far to clarify their priorities or win protection from deportation for the Dreamers, young undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children.

The true culprits are the House speaker, Paul Ryan, and the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell. Both are self-proclaimed deficit hawks. “In this generation, a defining responsibility of government is to steer our nation clear of a debt crisis while there is still time,” Mr. Ryan declared in 2012. But recent actions have revealed that the real game is to cut taxes on businesses and the wealthy, and use the resulting deficits as a pretext for cutting programs like Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security that benefit the poor and the middle class.


President Trump has been a bystander in this whole process. He signed the bill, though it ignores many of the administration’s requests by, for example, increasing spending on the National Institutes of Health rather than cutting it.

All told, the Republican tax cuts and the budget deal will nearly double the federal deficit to $1.19 trillion in 2019. While no credible analyst doubts that the federal government, which spends about $4 trillion a year, can make its debt payments, the growing deficit will make it harder for the government to respond to future recessions or to make responsible spending decisions. It’s a sure bet that, were the economy to tank, Mr. Ryan and his ilk would argue that the country couldn’t afford to increase government spending to get it going again because the deficit was already too large.


“While the framers of the Constitution foresaw the possibility of a tyrannical president, they never let their imaginations be darkened by the possibility of a compliant Congress.”
 

2/12/2018 7:17 am  #2


Re: The Republicans Have Become the Party of Debt

Hated debt till we got into power !  


"Do not confuse motion and progress, A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress"
 
 

2/12/2018 7:27 am  #3


Re: The Republicans Have Become the Party of Debt

Remember when republicans hated the debt and loved the FBI?

Last edited by Goose (2/12/2018 8:06 am)


“While the framers of the Constitution foresaw the possibility of a tyrannical president, they never let their imaginations be darkened by the possibility of a compliant Congress.”
     Thread Starter
 

2/12/2018 8:40 am  #4


Re: The Republicans Have Become the Party of Debt

Goose wrote:

Remember when republicans hated the debt and loved the FBI?

It was NOT that long ago. 
 


"Do not confuse motion and progress, A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress"
 
 

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