The conflicts run wide and deep in Washington, but the two warring sides have found common cause in one area: They share a deep affinity for spending other people’s money.
President Donald Trump won the 2016 Republican presidential nomination while vowing to reduce the debt and deficit. Unfortunately, his fiscal 2021 budget, released Monday, highlights how the GOP’s commitment to fiscal sanity is in desperate need of resuscitation.
Harken back to 2017, the president’s first year in office. Was there a consensus that the federal government didn’t run through enough money? On the contrary, yet Mr. Trump’s budget plan for 2021 represents a 21 percent spending increase over just four years ago, The Wall Street Journal noted.
To put the massive growth of the federal budget in additional perspective, the president’s spending blueprint amounts to a 160 percent increase in federal outlays over the past two decades. Imagine time traveling back to 2001 and undertaking the challenge of locating someone willing to argue that a near tripling of government outlays in the next 20 years would be insufficient.
In response to Mr. Trump’s budget proposal, congressional Democrats cracked their hymnals and broke into a tried-and-true dirge about the cold-heartedness of spending “cuts” that will force seniors to go without food and medicine while relegating the poor to the streets. But this is a fictional production for the cameras. To the extent that the administration exhibited any fiscal restraint, it’s “back-loaded” well down the road and will almost certainly never occur at all.
Even with the administration’s optimistic growth projections, the budget wouldn’t balance until 2035. The deficit for this fiscal year will top $1 trillion. What, exactly, do congressional Democrats have to pout about?
In fact, the president’s spending plan will go through the congressional shredder and emerge unidentifiable as a Frankenstein’s monster of competing priorities that contains enough pork to attract the necessary votes for passage.
Meanwhile, despite the soaring deficits, federal revenues continue to climb. The Journal reports that the government took in 6 percent more over the first four months of fiscal 2020 than over the same period last year. Democrats continue to blame the Trump tax cuts for the red ink, but the real problem is a profligate Beltway culture which ensures that every dollar — and then some — gets gobbled up as soon as it rolls in.
Democrats make no pretense about being fiscally prudent, particularly when it comes to domestic spending and entitlements. But if Republicans ever hope to reclaim that mantle, they’ll need to stake out an alternative course to the one identified in Mr. Trump’s most recent budget proposal.