Tag Archives: budget deficit

Hoping for an issues debate in 2020 race for POTUS

You may choose to believe or disbelieve what I want to say next. That’s your call. I have no control over what you believe.

I want a serious issues discussion to unfold as we move into the guts of the 2020 campaign for the presidency of the United States. Sadly, and I say that with sincerity, I fear we’re going to devolve into a sort of 2016 Campaign 2.0.

Donald Trump will survive the Senate trial that will commence soon. He will run for re-election. Democrats will nominate someone from the field of contenders vying for the chance to run against Trump.

My serious fear is that Trump’s impeachment will dominate the campaign. What’s more, I also fear that the president will not want to veer away from it, given how I suspect he’ll spin the expected verdict from the Senate into an “exoneration.”

What should we discuss?

  • Climate change ranks near the top of my issues wish list. Trump has called it a hoax. Democrats say climate change poses the greatest existential threat to the nation’s security. Trump has rolled back environmental regulations. Democrats want to restore them.
  • Health care ranks up there, too. Trump wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with an unknown plan. Democrats keep saying they want to tinker with the ACA, improve the parts of it that need work. Democrats want to protect the insurance coverage for millions of Americans. Trump isn’t making that commitment.
  • Federal spending? Yep, that’s a big one. Donald Trump has stood by while the budget deficit piles up to record levels. Democrats have become “deficit hawks,” trading places with Republicans who used to own that title.
  • Immigration reform is necessary. Trump keeps saying “Mexico will pay for The Wall.” Democrats don’t like building a wall along our southern border. They want to enact comprehensive immigration reform. Trump doesn’t have a plan.

All of this presumes naively, I’ll acknowledge, that Donald Trump is willing to discuss these issues in detail. He won’t go there. The president doesn’t read anything. He keeps telling us he is the smartest man in human history. He governs by “gut instinct.” Sigh.

I fear the president is going to concoct scandals where none exists with whomever he faces in the 2020 election.

There you have what I think will occur juxtaposed with what I hope happens. The idealistic side of me hopes for the best. The realist within me is preparing for the worst.

Hey, wasn’t the ‘national debt’ considered a deal breaker?

Check it out! Twenty-three trillion! As in dollars, man!

What does it represent? The national debt.

It crossed yet another milestone. The national debt keeps growing, despite bold — and arguably reckless — predictions that the president of the United States all by himself was going to eliminate the annual budget deficit by the end of his second term.

It, too, keeps growing, adding to the debt that those in Donald Trump’s Republican Party used to warn would bankrupt the country.

Has it bankrupted the United States of America? I don’t think it has, although the debt does pose a serious potential threat.

I guess my concern is that Donald Trump’s penchant for braggadocio persuade enough Americans to vote for him in 2016. He made that bold promise. He called himself “the king of debt,” whatever that was supposed to mean. Trump also pledged to balance the budget.

The current fiscal year deficit is growing at a breakneck pace, owing to the tax cuts enacted for the richest Americans along with still-uncontrolled federal spending.

I recall vividly the mantra repeated throughout the 2012 presidential campaign that the national debt, which totaled about $16 trillion, was the deal-breaker among Republicans. GOP nominee Mitt Romney said President Obama must not be re-elected because the national debt was just unsustainable. The message didn’t sell, as Obama was re-elected with a handsome margin — although it was diminished from the margin that Obama rolled up in 2008.

The debt has piled on another $7 trillion since 2012. It is still growing. What is Donald Trump going to promise to do about it to ensure his re-election in 2020?

I’m all ears.

Long live The King of Debt!

Donald John Trump once boasted that he is the King of Debt.

He also bragged that as president he would eliminate the national debt after eight years.

The King of Debt is even farther from fulfilling his pledge make the nation debt-free. But, by golly, he remains the King of Debt.

The president’s latest proposed budget is a doozy. It’s a record-setting $4.75 trillion. The debt? It stands at $22 trillion. It’s growing too, right along with the size of the annual budget deficit.

Those of us who call ourselves “deficit hawks” must be twisting ourselves into knots. I am.

Deficits endanger the nation

I don’t like my government running up so much debt. I didn’t like it when George W. Bush did it after inheriting a balanced budget from Bill Clinton. Then President Bush handed the presidency over to Barack Obama, who then rang up even more staggering debt, even while whittling down the annual deficit by roughly two-thirds before he handed the White House keys over to Donald Trump.

Trump, of course, had made many bodacious boasts about what he would do as president.

He cut taxes for a lot of rich Americans. The job growth, which has been stellar during his two years as president, hasn’t yet produced enough revenue to counteract the revenue lost by the tax reductions.

Now comes a proposed budget. He wants to slice domestic spending by 5 percent across the board while increasing defense spending.

Trump is going to hand out blame to congressional Democrats. He won’t accept any of it himself for the debt that continues to zoom into the budgetary stratosphere. That’s not his modus operandi. He is hard wired to take credit he doesn’t deserve and pass of blame when he should step up and take responsibility.

The King of Debt is alive and well. The debt destroyer is long gone.

What? No outcry over the national debt?

This just in: The U.S. debt has just jumped past the $22 trillion mark, rising more than $2 trillion during the first two years of Donald J. Trump’s administration.

I have to ask: Where is the outcry? Why hasn’t the far right raised holy hell about that? Why are acquiring all this additional debt without anyone raising a stink about it?

Didn’t the 2012 Republican Party nominee Mitt Romney once chide President Obama at a charity dinner that the event was sponsored by “the letter ‘O’ and the number 16 trillion”? He was referring to the size of the debt during the 2012 presidential campaign. The quip drew lots of laughs — and a few groans.

However, the GOP was simply aghast at the national debt back then.

This time? Pfftt! Who cares?

Oh, I almost forgot! Donald Trump has referred to himself as the “King of Debt.” All hail the king!

Nice timing on pay freeze, Mr. POTUS

Donald John Trump isn’t exactly the master of impeccable timing.

He helps shut down part of the federal government, forcing the furloughing of thousands of federal employees; thus, they are not getting paid while their agency is shut down because the White House and Congress are arguing over money to build The Wall along our southern border.

What does Trump then decide to do? He signs an executive order freezing wages for federal employees! They were slated to get a 2.1 percent pay increase. No longer will they get it. Trump said the budget cannot support it. Imagine that, will ya?

The budget deficit has exploded since the president and congressional Republicans enacted that tax cut, depriving the government of revenue that might have helped minimize deficit growth.

At least, though, the pay freeze doesn’t have an effect on the 2.6-percent pay increase granted to our men and women in the military.

Still, as the saying goes: Timing is everything.

Nice timing, Mr. President.

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?

Rescinding pay raise: ‘beyond outrageous’

Let me see if I have this straight.

Donald J. Trump and his Republican allies in Congress enacted a massive tax cut, most of which helps the wealthiest Americans. The cuts are driving up the federal budget deficit, piling more billions on to the national debt.

The president then decides to rescind planned raises for federal employees, citing the need for “fiscal restraint.”

I actually enjoyed this Twitter message from David Axelrod, the former Obama administration senior policy adviser and campaign guru.

To state the obvious, denying federal workers a pay raise because you’ve lavished a trillion dollars of tax cuts on corporations and the wealthy, creating massive new deficits, is beyond outrageous.

Yes, I know Axelrod is a Democratic partisan. I also know he has been highly critical of Donald Trump at every step of his presidency.

To be fair, the president said military personnel are exempt from the rescinding of raises; the fighting men and women will get a pay bump as planned. That’s good for them — and damn good for the country!

However, the president’s call for fiscal prudence and rational fiscal policy while rescinding raises for others in the government is, well, laughable on its face.

‘Welcome back,’ ballooning budget deficits

Ronald Reagan and his fellow Republicans made lots of hay in 1980 about the “spiraling” budget deficit during that presidential election year. It totaled a whopping $40 billion.

The GOP presidential nominee’s campaign ridiculed those big-spending Democrats en route to a smashing landslide election victory over President Jimmy Carter.

Ah, yes. Republicans were the party of “fiscal responsibility.”

Hah! Not any longer. The Congressional Budget Office projects that the current fiscal year will end with an $800 billion budget deficit and will surpass $1 trillion by the next fiscal year.

Hey, what happened? Oh, it’s that tax cut that the Republicans wrote into law — at the insistence of Donald J. Trump, and the $1.3 trillion spending bill approved by Congress.

What happened to fiscal restraint? Where are the controls on runaway government spending? Aren’t congressional Republicans — who control the House and the Senate — supposed to rein in free-spending tendencies usually associated with liberal Democrats?

A Democratic president, Bill Clinton, managed to craft a balanced budget in the late 1990s with help from congressional Republicans. Then came Republican George W. Bush, who succeeded Clinton in 2001. We went to war at the end of that year, but didn’t increase taxes to pay for it. The deficit soared out of control.

Democrat Barack Obama came aboard in 2009 with the economy in free fall. He pushed a tax hike and a spending boost through Congress. The economy recovered. The deficit was pared by roughly two-thirds annually by the time he left office in 2017.

Now we’re hurtling back to Square One. The deficit is exploding.

And no one in power seems to care about things that used to matter a lot.

Deficit hawks have taken a powder

You have heard it said — I am quite certain — that “we ought to run the government like we run a business.”

I ask: How many businesses do you know operate on deficits approaching the scale of what we’ve had in the federal government?

None. Right? Of course!

But now we have the Business Mogul in Chief as president of the United States and those federal budget deficits are approaching $1 trillion annually, a figure not seen since early in the Obama administration.

I should remind you that Barack Obama took office in January 2009 with the economy in free fall. He pushed through some ambitious rescue plans that included tax increases to help pay for the significant boost in public spending to help failing businesses.

The result over President Obama’s two terms was a serious reduction in the annual budget deficit; it shrank annually by about two-thirds.

It’s now heading back up. Congress keeps spending while approving big tax cuts. I believe that’s a recipe for increasing budget deficits, which in turn pile on more money onto the national debt that now stands at a cool $20 trillion.

Deficit mounts

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin now wants Congress to boost the nation’s borrowing capacity to pay for all this spending.

Just wondering: Isn’t the Republican Party the party of fiscal responsibility? What’s more: How many businesses would survive such exorbitant spending?

Deficit hawks have turned chicken

What has happened to the deficit hawks who used to dominate the Republican Party?

They have become chicken hawks, or just plain chicken.

Congressional Republicans used to rant, rail and express rage over budget deficits. Ronald Reagan derived a lot political advantage in 1980 by ridiculing the $40 billion budget deficit run up annually during the Carter administration.

Fast-forward to the present day.

Republicans are going to enact a tax cut that will blow up the deficit. It will add $1 trillion — or so — to the deficit over the next decade. That’s $100 billion annually.

But here’s the ironic aspect of this deficit business.

A Democratic president, Bill Clinton, managed to craft a budget that produced a surplus by the end of his presidency. He had help from Republicans in Congress, but the point is that the president and the GOP congressional leadership managed to cooperate and work together for a common good.

Another Democrat, Barack Obama, also managed to take huge bites out of a trillion-dollar-plus annual budget deficit. By the time President Obama left office, the budget deficit had been slashed by about two-thirds annually.

There were tax increases along with targeted budget cuts.

Did the GOP members of Congress give the president any credit? Nope. Didn’t happen. They instead changed the subject by targeting the Affordable Care Act, concocting reports of “dismal failure.”

But here we are today. A new president has taken over. He has sought desperately to achieve some kind of legislative “victory.” Republicans in both congressional chambers are poised to give it to him.

At what cost? Oh, yes. The deficit is set to grow once again. The one-time Party of Fiscal Responsibility has changed it stripes.