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The Moral Dimension to Our National Debt

August 28, 2019 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

Oh Lord, give me chastity,” St. Augustine is reputed to
have said. “But don’t give it yet.” So it is with
Republicans who have vowed to show some fiscal discipline —
sometime during President Trump’s second term.

But while we are waiting, the Congressional Budget Office has
announced that this year’s budget deficit will top $960
billion, $63 billion more than predicted in May of this year. And
next year’s deficit will almost certainly exceed it. After
that, the era of trillion-dollar deficits is here to stay. By 2029,
CBO reports our $22 trillion national debt will top around $34
trillion.

President Trump may accomplish the truly Herculean feat of
becoming a bigger deficit spender than President Obama. And
he’ll do it without a catastrophic recession to deal
with.

Every child born today
inherits a portion of that debt, and we are living at our
children’s expense.

How did we get here? Contrary to conventional wisdom, it
wasn’t the Republican tax cut. In fact, when compared to
2018, tax revenues went up 3 percent in the first nine months of
fiscal year 2019. Would they be even higher in the absence of those
cuts? Maybe. But the real problem, as usual, is out-of-control
spending.

The CBO estimates that federal outlays in 2019 will total $4.4
trillion, a $300 billion increase in nominal spending since 2018.
Discretionary spending is up. Defense spending is up. Entitlement
spending is up. There is no effort to prioritize or make the
difficult choices of governing, there is only … more.

While I realize that Congress controls the purse strings, it is
also true that President Trump has shown exactly zero interest in
restraining spending. The only time he speaks out on budget matters
is to demand more money for his latest pet project.

As bad as this is, we can hardly look to the Democrats for
relief. Their spending plans would make Caligula look like Scrooge
McDuck. Consider that with the release of his $16.3 trillion
green-energy plan, Bernie Sanders has now promised more than $58
trillion in additional spending over the next ten years.

Ok, you say, but Bernie is an avowed socialist, so we should
expect as much. What then about Elizabeth Warren, who “has a
plan for that,” proposing an estimated $40 trillion in new
spending over the next decade. Or Kamala Harris, who would spend an
additional $43 trillion over ten years. And Pete Buttigieg wants to
spend an additional $6.9 trillion. Even supposed moderate Joe Biden
has called for around $2.97 trillion in spending so far.

Worse, the Iowa caucuses are still six months away. The giant
pander-fest that is …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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