February 21, 2020

We Should All Be Deficit Hypocrites

“Barack Obama is dumbfounded. The Republicans harangued him for eight straight years over the federal budget deficit. Now, under President Trump, the deficit is skyrocketing—with nary a peep from the GOP. “This is supposed to be the party, supposedly, of fiscal conservatism,” he said in a speech in September. “Suddenly deficits do not matter, even though just two years ago, when the deficit was lower, they said I couldn’t afford to help working families or seniors on Medicare because the deficit was an existential crisis. What changed?”

The former president is not naive; he knows the answer. What changed was that Republicans, having swept the 2016 election, now fully control the government’s purse strings. By the end of Trump’s first year, the Republicans jacked the military’s budget by $80 billion and approved a $1.5 trillion tax cut. So it was no surprise when the Treasury Department reported last week that the deficit rose 77 percent in the first quarter of the fiscal year over the same period the previous year. This week, in its latest budget proposal, the White House had the gall to warn that we “must protect future generations from Washington’s habitual deficit spending,” but nonetheless projected the deficit would rise substantially over the next three years.

The question many are asking is whether the GOP’s about-face matters, politically speaking. As recent headline in The Week put it, “Will Republicans’ deficit hypocrisy haunt them this year?” The White House is confident that it won’t. Trump’s acting chief of staff, former Congressman Mick Mulvaney, spent years ripping Obama about the deficit. Asked recently why Trump’s 2019 State of the Union didn’t mention the deficit, he replied, “Nobody cares.””

Read more

JJ Editor's Picks

"U.S. President Donald Trump thinks he’s suffered more injustice than the alleged witches of Salem, but it could be worse. Pakistan’s former president Pervez Musharaff faced possible impeachment in 2008, leading to his resignation. In the end..."

"The 2000s felt like a decade of looking forward. Wi-Fi went mainstream, phones got smarter, social media connected us, digital tools let us rely less on physical ones. But the 2010s brought a shift. There was still tons of new technology, but..."

"While some women experience pregnancy and childbirth as joyful, natural and fulfilling, others find themselves recoiling in horror at the physical demands of carrying and sustaining a child in their womb, and even more so at the potential..."

"A few months ago, the New York Post’s Steve Cuozzo bemoaned the death of the Manhattan power lunch. Gone were the long, decadent afternoons filled with networking and Negronis: “Suit-and-tie-wearing machers in media and Wall Street gave way to..."

"Economic inequality has moved to the top of the political agenda in many countries, including free-market poster children like the US and the UK. The issue is mobilizing the left and causing headaches on the right, where wealth has long been..."

"If you’re not familiar with the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats — or even if you are — then you probably have many, many questions going into the film adaptation this weekend, especially if you’ve witnessed the widespread bafflement the trailer..."

"Despite his precisely targeted campaign and some unexpected support, the chances of Gideon Saar engineering a surprise defeat of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Dec. 26 primaries for the Likud party leadership are still considered modest.."

"Peter Thiel is Big Tech’s most prominent Trump supporter. He is an unabashed enemy of the free press, having covertly funded a lawsuit that bankrupted Gawker three years ago. He has become one of the most vocal pro-monopoly advocates, taking a..."