As we watch Republicans hold our nation hostage, let’s review the history of the cause for our debt.
In 1981, Republicans passed the then-largest tax cut in history, overwhelmingly benefiting the ultra-wealthy. At the same time, the Reagan administration spent trillions on a massive military buildup, and our debt tripled, adding more federal debt than in the entire prior history of the United States.
In 2000, President Bill Clinton left office with historic surpluses, with the United States on track to eliminate the entire national debt within 10 years.
Then, President George W. Bush again slashed taxes for the ultra-wealthy, doing away with any hope of reducing the debt. Then, in came the Trump tax cuts, while adding another $7.8 trillion to the debt, most of which was added before the COVID-19 crisis.
Face it, folks, you cannot increase debt without more income. The math doesn’t work. The Congressional Budget Office has already told lawmakers that extending the Trump tax breaks would cost $3.5 trillion.
Please note that the debt ceiling was raised three times during the Trump administration, with not a word from Republicans about cuts.
I believe we all agree that we need to get spending under control, just not at the expense of crashing not just our economy, but the entire world’s. The time to talk cuts is during budget negotiations, not when the credit of the United States is at risk.
To that end, Congress could begin investigating why parts that cost NASA $300 then cost the Pentagon $12,000. They could also eliminate earmarks, those little pet projects that make them look good in their home district but do not benefit the country and add millions to the debt each year. There is even a senator whose state faces a housing crisis, a multiyear drought and an epidemic of mass shootings, who has now opened an investigation into Bud Light. Then, as our nation faces economic ruin, the GOP takes time to auction off a tube of lip balm for $100,000 last week. Nobody is doing the job they were sent to Washington to do!
President Joe Biden presented a detailed budget, but Republicans have only made vague requests. Biden offered to freeze spending on defense and nondefense discretionary spending at 2023 levels. Republicans turned this down. Capping the budget at 2022 levels on discretionary spending would amount to cuts of 27%-33% on health, housing, education, farm subsidies, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, law enforcement, homeland security and the list goes on. And caps don’t work. During the 10 years that spending caps were in effect, Congress enacted legislation to override them. Taking back $71 billion for the IRS would decrease collections by $186 billion over a decade, per the Congressional Budget Office. Over the weekend, the Republicans even added more demands than what was in their original bill. No one has even addressed what a credit downgrade would cost in extra interest charges on the debt.
Over 60 million Social Security recipients, many of whom are already at the poverty level, worry if they will get paid in June. Our military, who puts their lives on the line every day, faces the possibility of no pay in June. Seniors look at the potential of not receiving care from doctors who may not get paid.
It all highlights just how little the Republicans in Congress care about anyone but themselves.
Doris W. Draper