GOP turns hawkish on deficit

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Someone needs to explain something to me.

Congressional Republicans saw no problem with running up a federal budget deficit when a president of their own party pitched a massive tax cut that would necessarily run that deficit into the stratosphere.

Now their guy has lost an election and the new president, Joe Biden, wants to enact a hefty package aimed at providing relief to Americans suffering from the COVID pandemic.

Republicans’ response? No can do, they say, because it would — get set for it — run up the deficit!

OK, so why is it that one deficit-explosion notion is OK but another one that would cost a huge sum of money to help Americans is not OK? What gives?

I know the answer. It’s politics. That’s all it is.

Yet there can be little doubt we’re going to hear the GOP blame Democrats for “playing politics” with COVID relief. It’s their mantra. Their siren song.

President Biden is pitching a $1.9 trillion package that includes a $1,400 payment to Americans who qualify for it. It also expedites delivery of vaccines to states. Its aim is to jumpstart the economy while seeking to turn the tide against the pandemic. Does it spend more money that the government does not have on hand? Yes.

Let’s look back briefly. Joe Biden became vice president in 2009 as the national economy was in free fall. He and President Obama came up with a massive relief program that bailed out the auto industry and helped shore up a collapsing financial industry. It, too, boosted the deficit.

What happened next? The economy revived. More Americans went to work. The deficit that skyrocketed began to recede. By the time the Obama-Biden administration handed it over to the Donald Trump, the deficit had been pared to less than half of what it was when Obama took office in 2009.

I will await an explanation for why congressional Republicans suddenly have resorted to their game of fear about bold initiatives.

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