Doesn’t the deficit matter any longer?

News that the federal budget deficit grew by 17 percent in the past fiscal year makes me wonder.

How is it that “real Republicans” continue to lend their support to a man who calls himself a Republican but on whose watch the deficit is allowed to grow at this breakneck pace?

Donald Trump made a lot of campaign promises while winning the presidency. He said the deficit would plummet. It hasn’t.

It grew to about $771 billion in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.

Now I get that there are factors contributing to that deficit. The Trump tax cuts, for one. Another has been a boost in defense spending.

But juxtaposed to this deficit lies a curious set of potential issues that could send it into deep space. The wall Trump wants to build along our southern border is going to cost hundreds of billions of dollars. Then there is that infrastructure improvement package that the president said should cost more than $1 trillion. He wants to improve, repair, renovate, rebuild our nation’s highways, bridges and airports.

Where in the name of fiscal responsibility is he going to get that money? Oh, I know! He’ll borrow it, just like President Barack Obama did in 2009 when he inherited a national economy in collapse — and which Trump and other Republicans criticized to the hilt at the time, even as the economy began to revive itself.

Obama and his spendthrift policies did help reduce the rate of growth in the annual deficit dramatically during his two terms in office. In President Bush’s final year, the deficit exceeded $1 trillion; the Obama administration and Congress managed to cut that annual amount by roughly two-thirds.

Now it’s climbing — inexorably, according to many economists — back toward that trillion-dollar figure.

Deficit hawks — and I consider myself a deficit hawk — are alarmed. If not, they should be alarmed.

Yet the question remains about those real Republicans. The president you embrace doesn’t adhere to anything approaching regular Republican fiscal orthodoxy. Why do you keep clinging to this individual’s coattail?

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