If the ideological battle over federal debt and deficits was ever real, it is now over.
Red ink won.
For politicians from the president down, hiking expenses while cutting taxes means having your cake and eating it too. Last year’s approval of a giant slice in corporate rates and huge boost in military spending puts it all in the books.
Former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming, once a leading voice of fiscal restraint, said in a recent interview that Congress shouldn’t even bother with a “balanced-budget amendment” as proposed by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).
“It’s madness. It won’t do anything to help improve the budget,” Simpson told The Washington Post. “It’s just chest-pounding fakery.
“They have already approved spending into oblivion, even the tea party guys.”
The measure has failed to advance. With predictable futility, Goodlatte had argued that to make the needed “tough decisions,” Congress “must have the external pressure of a balanced budget requirement.”
The federal deficit will cross the trillion-dollar mark by 2020, according to nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projections.
Also, the national debt, as measured by what is owed to the U.S. public, will nearly double, from $14.7 trillion in fiscal year 2017 to $28.7 trillion in 2029.
Those are big facts shaping the very future of the country.
Of Goodlatte’s failed measure, Maya MacGuineas, who has headed the fiscally conservative Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget since 2003, was quoted in USA Today as saying:
“Anyone supporting a balanced-budget amendment should also have a plan to achieve a balanced budget and support efforts to implement such a plan; otherwise, it is not a serious proposal.”
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), one of the most vocal GOP critics of President Donald Trump, lays deficit and debt inaction at the door of the White House.
“Is this president a president who cares about the fiscal health of our nation? No,” said Corker, calling the spending authorized so far by the Trump administration “grotesque.”
Budget balance or none, those who believe firmly that the tax cuts will pay outsize dividends by stimulating the economy are sticking to their philosophic narrative.
Jeffrey Dorfman, a University of Georgia economics professor, wrote in Forbes: “Tax cuts will eventually pay for themselves. It just takes more than the ten years Congress looks at, given plausible estimates of the growth effects of tax cuts.”