Paul Krugman likens it to the definition of “chutzpah”: kill your parents and then beg the court for mercy, on the grounds you are an orphan. But that’s the essence of the Republican strategy: create huge deficits with tax cuts and then, in the name of dealing with the problem you’ve created, slash social service spending programs like Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. The strategy even has a name: “starve the beast.”
The huge tax cut that the Republican-controlled Congress passed along to their wealthy
owners backers have exacerbated one of America’s long-running problems: deficit spending. But before the GOP Congress uses that as a lame excuse to savage the middle class, let’s examine how dire the situation really is.
One way to measure the seriousness of the deficit is to see it as a percentage of current Gross National Product. For the current fiscal year, the answer is “bad” but not “serious.” Certainly not dire enough to hurt the majority of Americans again. The Republicans’ intemperate tax cut was at a time when the economy and the GNP was strong, resulting in a deficit that is projected to be about 4.1% of the GNP. It’s the highest since the middle stages of recovery from the Bush recession, and likely to be inflationary, but hardly a four-alarm call for drastic reductions in social service programs.
It’s true that the deficits are cumulative to the national debt, but even taking into account higher interest rates and no further change in tax policy, the rate at which the national debt accrues doesn’t increase that much.
So while it’s not entirely a false alarm, the premise for the GOP proposal to cut social service spending is largely false. In fact, if you drill down a little deeper and examine the categories of expense generating the national debt, the contributions by the GOP-targeted social service programs are relatively minor.
The source of the biggest part of the national debt isn’t the “usual suspects.”
Rather, the problem is the other side of the equation. There’s a failure of revenue. Repeal of the Trump tax cuts for the rich would be a good start. Higher rates on higher income brackets would also help. Removing the limit on social security taxes would, too.
But there is no Republican will to increase taxes or make the rich pay their share. Never mind that it worked pretty well after World War II; never mind that the promise of “trickle down” has again been a complete bust.
The utter intellectual bankruptcy of the Republican Party – especially the Republican Party under Donald Trump – is revealed by recent events surrounding Congressman Duncan Hunter (R, Greed). Rep. Hunter wrote in 2013, and it’s still on his web page today,
In other words, the federal government is like a family that has overspent and racked up too many bills. New credit cards are paying old ones and each paycheck is obligated somewhere else. A family in that situation makes choices to cancel vacation plans, stop eating out or maybe cut cable television. The federal government must do the same.
Representative Hunter was indicted last week for the illegal conversion of some $250,000 in campaign funds for purely personal expenses. The indictment states his personal bank account was overdrawn more than 1,100 times in a seven year period, resulting in more than $37,000 in “overdraft” and “insufficient funds” bank fees. Their credit cards were frequently charged to the credit limit, often with five-figure balances, resulting in approximately $24,600 in finance charges, interest, and other fees related to late, over the limit, and returned payment fees.
The utter hypocrisy, the complete deceit and duplicity by this Republican isn’t even surprising any more. It’s perfectly clear why the federal government is in the hole: the Republicans control Congress and the Presidency and placed higher priority on tax breaks for their buddies than anything else. It’s as morally reprehensible as what Rep. Hunter and his spouse have done. For Congress to compound their felony by stealing social security funds should be too much for any voter.
We’ll all find out in November.