This week, President Donald Trump signed a $4.7 trillion budget. The deal raises federal spending by $320 billion over the next two years — and it will increase the national debt by $1.7 …
This week, President Donald Trump signed a $4.7 trillion budget. The deal raises federal spending by $320 billion over the next two years — and it will increase the national debt by $1.7 trillion over the next decade.
It was a rather disappointing outcome for a president who promised in 2016 to get rid of the entire national debt in just eight years, which was about $18 trillion at the time. Today, it stands at $22 trillion. Politicians failing to keep their campaign promises is really nothing new, but it’s concerning there isn’t more uproar about the lack of fiscal restraint in Washington.
Just picture what $22 trillion looks like. It’s 22 followed by 12 zeros. As bundles of $100 bills, the national debt would create over 20 stacks of money as wide as the Statue of Liberty and twice as high. It would weigh 242,000 tons. The portion of the national debt shared by each U.S. taxpayer is $183,248. In 1960, the ratio of federal debt to GDP was about 53 percent. Today it’s at 106 percent.
As president, Barack Obama went on a spending frenzy, adding $8.6 trillion to the national debt between 2010 and 2017. The Tea Party was born, in part, as a result of this reckless behavior. Their fiscally conservative rallies drew attention to government’s out-of-control spending.
Based on projections from the 2019 budget, $4.8 trillion will be added to the national debt under the Trump Administration. Where are the Tea Party rallies today?
Granted, the Democrats are far worse in this regard. During the recent presidential debates, not a single candidate in the Democratic field even mentioned the national debt, much less discussed ways to address it. In fact, each one of them promised to lavish voters with more money than their opponents, and none offered any explanation of exactly how they’d pay for all these generous programs.
Either we choose to cut spending now because we know it’s the wise thing to do, or we cut spending later because our nation’s bankruptcy leaves us no choice. Even before it becomes a crisis, it will depress economic growth, and debt service payments will make it harder for government to meet core responsibilities, such as national defense.
Sen. John Barrasso and Rep. Liz Cheney both voted in favor of the budget. Sen. Mike Enzi voted against it, and last week he offered proposals to add more accountability and transparency in the budget process. With Enzi retiring at the end of this term, it will be left to others to bring these proposals to fruition, but they were crafted more for an improved budget process than to rein in the debt.
The Park County Commission is in the process of planning $2 million in cuts to the next county budget. At its regular meeting last month, Commissioners Joe Tilden and Jake Fulkerson commented on how challenging it is to cut spending. Indeed, there’s no way to do so without upsetting some group of voters. Good for the commissioners for doing what must be done, even if the decisions they have to make may not be popular. Sometimes, that’s what courageous leadership looks like. At the same time, voters need to be more amenable to reductions in spending.
At the federal level, politicians and their constituents are all too comfortable with a national debt exceeding gargantuan, dangerous proportions. This needs to change. We need a principled, bipartisan commitment to fiscal responsibility if this country is to continue to grow and prosper.