Well, here we are again: a battle over the debt ceiling and funding to keep the federal government operating that will bring us to the brink of a government shutdown, or over the edge into a full-blown catastrophe. After four years of profligate spending and tax breaks for extremely wealthy individuals and big corporations, suddenly Republicans are horrified by the size of the national debt. Here are some facts, as outlined in a Pro Publica piece recently:
The national debt rose by almost $7.8 trillion during Trump’s time in office. That’s nearly twice as much as what Americans owe on student loans, car loans, credit cards and every other type of debt other than mortgages. Candidate Trump promised to pay down the national debt in eight years. Instead, he presided over a 40% rise in just four years.
The growth in the annual deficit under Trump ranks as the third-biggest increase, relative to the size of the economy, of any U.S. presidential administration, according to a calculation by Eugene Steuerle, co-founder of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. Two other presidents, George W. Bush and Abraham Lincoln, had larger growth rates, both due to war spending. Trump? He just shoveled money out of our pockets (by “our” we mean residents of this county) into the pockets of hedge fund managers, CEOs of financial institutions and insurance companies.
Arguing over the debt limit legislation will bring Medicare payments, Social Security payments and infrastructure spending to a grinding halt. Of course, that’s their objective. Here’s the thing: If the Republicans retake Congress in 2022, be prepared for whiplash as these same spending hawks pass bills cutting taxes even more for those least in need. It won’t help the national debt any, but it will sure gut the Build Back Better Act, with good things like protection for families with children, affordable day care, help with their hearing for Medicare recipients, paid family leave, and addressing the climate needs (many times greater than the help included in the Build Back Better Act, but it’s a beginning). So have at it, newly-minted deficit hawks. Just keep fiddling while the USA — and the entire earth — burns.
Dan and Jan Blair