The Republican tax cut and military buildup that President Trump frequently lauds is supercharging yearly federal budget deficits. While this stimulus is giving a short-term boost to the economy, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has issued dire warnings about the $1+ trillion red ink it will create for each fiscal year from 2019 through 2028. The CBO projects that even with a good economy and low unemployment, interest on the national debt alone will exceed defense spending in 2023. So, what happens when the inevitable recession occurs? Well, we’re almost sure to find out.
Trump – the self-proclaimed “king of debt” – apparently doesn’t have a problem with massive deficits. He and congressional Republicans are already planning for “Tax Cuts 2.0”. They want to add another $600 billion to the national debt by making the individual provisions of the 2017 tax reform that are scheduled to expire for 2026 permanent. The CBO estimates that this legislation would increase the federal debt to near record levels by 2028 and further increase the likelihood of a fiscal crisis. “The longer you [Congress] wait, the more draconian the measures have to be to fix the problem,” warned CBO Director Keith Hall.
The Republican-controlled Congress, however, doesn’t have a viable plan to significantly reduce deficit spending. The Trump administration’s claim that the tax cuts will pay for themselves by greatly increasing economic activity is a cruel hoax that has no empirical basis or chance of succeeding. Most Republicans have signed a pledge to never increase taxes on anything, ever. So, the only GOP solution is to make the “draconian” cuts to the most expensive nondefense budget items, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Their plan has about the same probability of success as the tax cuts have of paying for themselves. It simply won’t happen. So, where does that leave deficit reduction?
Current federal health care spending is not sustainable. The last of the baby boomers will be retiring during the coming decade, exacerbating the fiscal problems of both Medicare and Social Security. The GOP has no plan for health care except to cut benefits; Democrats are moving closer to supporting a “Medicare for all” program. Congress must find a way to legislate solutions to moderate health care costs and shore up the Social Security trust fund. But these days such a compromise doesn’t seem remotely possible.
A border wall is not the infrastructure this nation needs. It’s a waste of tax dollars for a political promise Trump must fulfill to satisfy his base. And there aren’t many politicians claiming that a wall would be effective in preventing illegal immigrants from entering the U.S. Meanwhile our highways, bridges, water systems, airports and other infrastructure are in bad need of repair and upgrades. Having spent well over $1 trillion on tax reform, Trump and Republicans have no budget money left for this critical investment in our economy and our future.
Corporations and the wealthy are the big beneficiaries of the Trump/GOP tax reform. Lower corporate tax rates have fueled stock buybacks of over $600 billion in the first half of this year. This exceeds the previous record for an entire year according to Morgan Stanley and is double what occurred in the first six months of 2017 according to Merrill Lynch. Buybacks increase share prices and corporate executives are reaping huge gains selling their holdings in record numbers. Meanwhile, wage increases for workers – which barely exceed inflation — are being consumed by higher prices of food, gas and medical care.
Republican politicians like to energize their base by attacking Democratic women, particularly the strong, intelligent ones. Former secretary of State Hillary Clinton is no longer a significant political adversary but Trump and his supporters still want to “Lock her up.” House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is a perennial target of vicious conservative TV ads, along with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). Beware misogynous guys. There are a lot of fired up liberal ladies challenging you for office this year.
There is something fundamentally flawed about a person like Trump who lies constantly about everything. He’s so insecure that he can’t take criticism of any kind and his attacks on the media as the “enemy of the people” are bizarre and frightening. Trump’s campaign rallies are becoming more unhinged and devoid of veracity. He seems to be living in an authoritarian alternative reality, which makes him unpredictable and a threat to democracy. Many Republicans just shrug.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is succeeding in destabilizing and dividing the United States, aided by Trump and his GOP enablers in Congress. For many of us who well remember the cold war and the Soviet Union’s quest for world dominance, this is simply incredible. Those Republicans who cling to Trump like Velcro, excusing his abuses of power and near-treasonous catering to Putin, are weakening our national security.
Trump will not give up the presidency without a divisive fight, whether he is impeached or defeated at the ballot box. He constantly lays the groundwork for challenging elections by calling them “rigged”. He insists that there is massive voter fraud and ludicrously claims that Russians will be hacking to aid Democrats. If he’s impeached, he will likely incite his base into an angry mob. What will the GOP do then?
Putting the era of Trump/Republican control behind us will not be easy or smooth but let’s take the first step in November.