The Grand Old Party, which once preached fiscal responsibility, has morphed into the deficit-indifferent, tax-cut obsessed Greedy Old Party.
Eleven months into fiscal year 2018, while controlling all three branches of government, Republicans own an $895 billion budget deficit, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
That’s with 3.9 percent unemployment and a booming stock market.
Sorry, GOP, you can’t blame Barack Obama for the 33 percent deficit increase from a year ago. (His last budget had $585 billion in red ink.)
But it isn’t a Republican aberration.
Republicans controlled all the levers during President George W. Bush’s two terms, passing a tax cut, putting two wars on Uncle Sam’s credit card and increasing the debt by $3.29 trillion.
The total federal debt is now $21 trillion — $16 trillion owed to creditors and $5 trillion government agencies owe each another.
JPMorgan puts personal debt per household at $126,000 (mortgage, various loans, credit cards, etc.).
Meanwhile, each household owes the equivalent of $127,000 in public debt — the first time it’s exceeded private debt.
“This is an astonishing statistic,” David Kelly, chief global strategist at JPMorgan Funds, told the Washington Post. “Americans have a lot of debt. I always feel nervous signing a mortgage or a car loan. I think, can I afford all this debt?
“Then you realize the government is busy borrowing even more money on your behalf.”
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A Republican Congress once imposed discipline on the Clinton administration, producing the last budget surplus in 2000 (also with 3.9 percent unemployment).
During the Obama administration, a Republican Congress passed “PayGo” (the 2010 Pay-as-You-Go Act), requiring automatic spending cuts if legislation increased the deficit.
“PayGo” became “Let’sGo” last year.
Republicans abandoned it after the CBO stated $136 billion in annual spending cuts would be necessary to offset $1.5 trillion in red ink over a decade from the Trump tax cuts.
The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget now estimates the tax cut-new spending combination will boost the debt by another $5 trillion over 10 years.
Republicans claimed the tax cuts would pay for themselves. Historically that is never the case. Corporate tax receipts declined by 30 percent the past 11 months.
The tax cuts had another motivation — “reforming” entitlements, which consume more than half the budget (80 percent paying for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid alone), to reduce the deficit.
But that’s politically risky. So Republicans are using misdirection in campaign ads, blaming Democrats for the coming Medicare woes.
The Medicare Board of Trustees in its annual report in June stated the Medicare hospital trust fund would be depleted in 2026 — three years earlier than predicted in 2017. It cited lower income and higher costs.
Translation: Tax cuts decreased revenues and costs increased after Republicans gutted Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board, which was designed to slow spending growth.
Social Security and Medicare do need reform. However, putting the federal budget on life support while further enriching the wealthy isn’t the way to go.