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“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.””
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"The country’s prime minister and attorney general have mentioned banning semiautomatic firearms, but it’s far from a done deal."
"Beto O’Rourke is in! After a reverential Vanity Fair profile and awkward couch announcement at his home, he is now seeking to become ... something."
"Campaigns are traditionally filled with promises... There is one promise being made by some parties that I can confidently declare as unrealistic."
"Netflix has received credit from many critics for championing diverse content. An assessment of the number of stories by and about Latinos in the United States paints a very different picture."
"Ride hailing is going public. According to Reuters, both Uber and Lyft are on course for an initial public offering this year. Lyft will probably debut later this month. Uber is readying the paperwork..."
"The traces we leave on the Web and on our digital devices can give advertisers and others surprising, and sometimes disturbing, insights into our psychology."
"The value of outsider art to the art world lies less in its formal qualities than in the narrative surrounding its artists. Outsider artists can make for easy-to-manage art stars: they’re often shy or indisposed, dead or reclusive."
"Many modern translators tend to soften the strangeness of the Hebrew Bible, but Robert Alter embraces it. It’s the strangeness that gives the original much of its power."
"Birth order does not appear to influence personality in adults, according to several ambitious studies published in the past few years. This new wave of research relied on larger data sets and more robust statistical methods than earlier reports..."
"The best burger place Is a lab... Growing meat cell by cell is better for your wallet and the world." Click to learn more in the latest "Think Like a Scientist" video from Nautilus.
"Such devices, like all computers, can be hacked or go awry. What if a person's prosthetic limbs are co-opted and instructed to walk in front of cars, rather than away from them?"
"The people of Amalek were possibly the first organised nihilists in the world (in spite of the fact that “organised nihilist” is oxymoronic). They believed that there was no meaning to the world or to life."