During President Obama’s first term, several of my conservative friends constantly railed about the president’s spending. I remember one of them saying “Tea Party, here we come”. When Obama signed a massive stimulus package of around $800 billion soon after he was inaugurated, Republicans squealed like the world was ending and blamed him for the record-breaking $1.4 trillion deficit for fiscal year 2009. But that legislation was only part of the story.
Fact is, what happened to federal budgets during the Great Recession will occur in 2020 and perhaps well beyond. Federal and state revenues will crater by hundreds of billions and the cost of programs like Medicaid and unemployment insurance will skyrocket as people lose jobs and health care coverage. In response, Congress has passed massive “relief” packages, which will add even more trillions in red ink. Unlike Republican obstruction during Obama’s administration, however, Democrats will strive to bolster the economy by all means possible.
The Congressional Budget Office projects that the FY 2020 federal deficit will be $3.7 trillion, followed by $2.1 trillion for FY2021. The combined deficit of $5.8 trillion for these two years almost equals the total Great Recession deficits during President Obama’s entire first term. These estimates will certainly increase, however, if Congress authorizes funding to shore up state budgets. The U.S. Treasury can borrow without limits to cover revenue shortfalls; states can’t do that.
Most states must balance their budgets, so when revenues decrease, so must spending. The National League of Cities estimates that up to one million public-sector employees may lose their jobs this year, many of them teachers. Education funding is typically the largest item in state budgets, so it invariably gets cut when the economy tanks. If Congress fails to appropriate relief for states in the next coronavirus bill, the nations’ children – and their futures – will be the victims.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), however, is baulking. Although he normally avoids filling his mouth with shoe leather, McConnell said he wasn’t interested in bailing out “blue states” and that states could declare bankruptcy if they couldn’t meet their obligations. He wants to shrink government at all levels, particularly in Democratic states that have unionized employees. Sure Mitch, why not add numerous state bankruptcies to this catastrophe?
McConnell’s cynical remarks garnered bipartisan criticism but none more severe than New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s. He correctly countered that his state pays more in federal taxes than it receives in federal benefits, while the opposite is true for McConnell’s state. Actually, the extra taxes New Yorkers pay to the government, help fund education and health care benefits for Kentuckians.
But Kentucky certainly isn’t alone in needing federal help. Financial web site, wallethub.com ranks the 50 states by federal government dependency where 1 (one) is the most dependent on federal funding. The red states’ average ranking of 21 shows they are much more dependent than blue states, which have an average ranking of 33. Of the 10 most federally dependent states, nine are totally controlled or mostly controlled by Republicans; Kentucky is number five. Clearly, McConnell needs to focus his attention back home.
Then there’s the Republican in chief whose presidency is ripping the conservative veneer off his party’s ideology, exposing its shameful hypocrisy. The 2017 Trump/GOP tax cut that will add $1.5+ trillion to federal deficits has totally debunked President Ronald Reagan’s trickle-down economic myth that tax cuts for the wealthy pay for themselves. And the staunchly free trade-loving, deficit-hating Republicans were mostly silent last year as Trump slapped tariffs on foreign goods and deficit spending skyrocketed.
In fact, the GOP has become like a cult, with many members eagerly guzzling the Kool-Aid of lies served up by the president. Frankly, I don’t get it. Among the many qualities that define good leaders and admirable human beings – I don’t believe Donald Trump possesses even one. Not One! This petty, ignorant man frequenting displays flashes of mind-boggling stupidity and proudly displays his arrogance. And if reelected, he’ll destroy what makes America great – including our democratic processes and what little international respect this nation still retains.
On Saturday, Irish Times’ columnist Fintan O’Toole expressed what I believe numerous foreign leaders are thinking, “Over more than two centuries, the United States has stirred a very wide range of feelings in the rest of the world…..But there is one emotion that has never been directed towards the US until now: pity.” He added, “The country Trump promised to make great again has never in its history seemed so pitiful.”
Pitiful? The United States of America is viewed as pitiful??? Well, lay the blame for this shocking assessment directly on President Trump, along with numerous conservative Republican politicians and Fox News commentators like Sean Hannity.
Their disgraceful responses to the coronavirus crisis delivered a body blow to American exceptionalism. The U.S. has over a million coronavirus cases, resulting in 61,000+ deaths so far and an economy crashing into a bad recession. Why? Because Trump put stock market concerns and his reelection above protecting Americans’ health. Then, the federal government actually made the bourgeoning crisis worse under his inept leadership.
Thankfully, GOP incompetence isn’t shared by the vast majority of Americans, so we’ll get through this pandemic in spite of them. But we must vote Trump and a whole bunch of Republicans out of office so this nation can reclaim its “world’s greatest country” status.