For eight years, Republicans told us that deficits and debt were too big a threat for more government spending. Even when the Recession was at its worst and businesses and people were losing money, the GOP balked at stimulus spending proposed by Obama and the Democrats. Now that they’re in power, deficits no longer matter and debt is barely an afterthought.
Last month, they passed a budget busting tax cut that will add more than $1 trillion to the national debt over the next decade and deficits, which have been in decline since Obama took office, are skyrocketing. Now, Trump has released a budget that would cause $1 trillion in deficit spending. The Republicans who lectured us about the evils of debt and deficits can no longer be found.
The increases in debt and deficits are driven by the loss of revenue from the Republican tax cut. The country will lose $3.7 trillion in revenue between 2018 and 2017. To make up for some of the loss, Trump’s budget proposes cutting Medicare by $550 billion. It also cuts the EPA budget by more than 33%, including programs designed to reduce climate change. To say Trump and Republicans want to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy through cuts to Medicare and at the expense of our environment is not hyperbole. It’s the Trump budget proposal.
Trump’s budget probably won’t pass because of the political implication of cuts to Medicare in an election year that’s already scaring Republicans. Instead, if a budget is passed at all, it will likely just increase our debt and deficit, because Republicans don’t really care. Eight years of fiscal sanctimony was all a charade.
So what does the modern Republican stand for? Well, they still stand for lower taxes and less regulation. That’s been consistent. They believe if the wealthy and big corporations are unimpeded, they’ll drive an economy that brings higher levels of income to everybody. It hasn’t worked yet, but they’ll keep trying it.
They believe in deficit spending and that debt doesn’t matter. Really, they’ve been consistent on those points, too, when they’ve been in power. Reagan created massive deficits and debt. George W. Bush did, too. The debt that arose over the last decade was due mainly to Bush enacting a huge tax cut at the same time he led us into two wars and implemented a prescription drug program with no way to pay for it. Debt was increasing steadily anyhow and then the economy crashed. Obama may not have reduced the debt, but he didn’t cause it. He did reduce deficit spending, though.
In possibly the biggest reversal, Republicans no longer stand for free market economics, at least not globally. They’ve been relatively silent as Trump imposed tariffs on goods from China and South Korea. They barely raised a peep as Trump torpedoed the Trans Pacific Partnership. Let’s see how they respond when he tries re-negotiate NAFTA.
They stand for less immigration, especially if those immigrants want low paying, low skilled jobs. In essence, the Republicans would import more educated workers while reducing the number educated Americans, giving immigrants more higher paying jobs while giving more native born Americans lower paying ones.
They still oppose a strong social safety net. They will likely try to cut Social Security and Medicare if they retain control of Congress after November. Trump has already proposed sharply reducing food stamps and the GOP still says repealing the Affordable Care Act is a top priority.
So, if you boil it down, the GOP wants more money to flow to the wealthy and businesses. They want less for the poor and lower middle class. They want fewer people coming to the country unless they’ve already got enough money pay for themselves. They want to protect traditional industries like gas and oil while restricting emerging industries like solar. And their willing to pay for their expenses with a credit card.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >