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Debatably the most important power delegated to Congress is its power of the purse. However, it never uses this power correctly. This week, the United States’ national debt surpassed the $22 trillion mark. Also this week, Congress passed a multi-hundred-billion dollar spending bill in order to cover for its inability to do its job properly. Congress was behind schedule by nearly half of an entire year on funding the government for this fiscal year.
Republicans are right on the messaging around fiscal policy. We should tax less, spend less, and allow individuals to do as they see fit in the private sector with their money -- providing the best outcomes and highest quality of life for all. However, in practice, this is all but entirely forgotten. Republicans cut taxes in the 115th Congress, but have failed epically at restraining, let alone cutting, spending.
Democrats, though, are no help whatsoever on either of these fronts. They want to raise taxes, in some cases up to or beyond 70 percent, on individuals and want to raise the newly-lowered corporate tax rate that has made the United States much more competitive globally. Democrats also want to increase spending, although by dramatically more dollars than any tax on the wealthy, as they advocate for, could ever pay for.
For example, Medicare for All would cost $32 trillion over ten years. Similarly, the proposals of the Green New Deal, which include Medicare for All, have the potential to cost over $5 trillion per year, doubling or even possibly tripling our annual federal budget that currently hovers around $4 trillion each year.
This type of spending cannot possibly be paid for in taxes. But, Democrats to this point have had no qualms with borrowing and borrowing, or printing and printing, money. As Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said with confusion, “People often say, like, how are you going to pay for it and I find the question so puzzling because…[y]ou just pay for it.” Unfortunately, that’s not the way things work.
The only time Democrats even pretend to care about spending are on two issues: when spending increases for the military budget and when deficits increase as a result of tax cuts. These are not necessarily rooted in falsehoods, because it is true that the military budget should be scrutinized as any other part of the budget should be and that tax cuts should be followed by spending cuts. But, both complaints, when made as Democrats make them, are entirely disingenuous.
To the point of the military, they often cite the looming debt as a threat to our security and indicate that cutting the military budget will solve this problem. When one looks at the numbers of federal spending, though, it is clear that the debt -- which, make no mistake, is a huge threat to the national security of our country -- is driven by the mandatory spending of entitlement programs and health care programs that Democrats refuse to even discuss reforming.
Regarding the deficit increase as a result of tax cuts, they balk over the (likely overestimated) calculation that tax cuts -- the recent tax reform specifically -- would add $1.5 trillion in deficit spending over the next ten years. Apart from completely disregarding the positive economic effects of tax cuts, Democrats also disregard the magnitude by which their plans would increase deficit spending -- many times over that of tax cuts, without even economic benefit.
For instance, the $32 trillion price tag over ten years for Medicare for All -- which would nationalize a huge portion of our economy and decrease economic output -- is in itself more than 20 times the “price tag” of tax cuts, which spur economic growth. This is not to say that spending cuts should not accompany tax cuts, because they should, but simply to say that Democrats only preach on the debt and deficit when it is to attack Republicans.
Unfortunately, the 300 representatives and 86 senators who voted for the latest spending boondoggle have much to learn regarding how to govern in a way that keeps our country sustainable and prosperous. It is long past time, especially now with a $22 trillion national debt, that Democrats and Republicans alike step up to the plate and acknowledge the reality of what our nation is facing fiscally.