Fact Checking GQP Propaganda On Federal Debt: Republicans Are More Than Equally To Blame

Budgets are moral documents.” – Often attributed to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.” – President Joseph R. Biden.

The Associated Press reports, Biden rolls out budget plan, challenges GOP to follow suit:

President Joe Biden on Thursday made an opening bid with a budget plan that would cut deficits by $2.9 trillion over the next decade — a proposal that Republicans already intend to reject.

It’s part of a broader attempt by the president to call out House Republicans who are demanding severe cuts to spending in return for lifting the government’s legal borrowing limit. But the GOP has no counteroffer so far, other than a flat “no” to a Biden blueprint with tax increases on the wealthy that could form the policy backbone of Biden’s yet-to-be-declared campaign for reelection in 2024.

Because they are the lickspittle lackeys of global corporations and wealthy plutocrats who oppose paying any taxes of any kind.

Striding around a stage at a union training center in Philadelphia, Biden seemed to be in full campaign mode as he spoke about his plan for the government’s finances and how his values contrasted with Republican priorities.

“I just laid out the bulk of my budget,” Biden said. “Republicans in Congress should do the same thing. Then we can sit down and see where we disagree.”

Yet the president doubted that GOP lawmakers could make their numbers match their calls for a balanced budget and he suggested that any efforts to do so could come at the expense of middle-class families.

“How are they going to make the math work?” Biden said. “What are they going to cut?”

Remember: Republicans cannot do math, and they do not do economics. They only do propaganda.

Rather than put forward a budget proposal which reflects their elitist values, and as required by the Constitution (“All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives,” Article I, Section 7, Clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution), Republicans are resorting to their annual disinformation campaign, braying about Democrats are responsible for the federal debt and “it’s all their fault!

Republicans are also manufacturing a debt ceiling crisis – they are constitutionally required to honor the full faith and credit of the United States – to hold the country hostage, again (every time there is a Democrat in the White House), to their demands to cut federal spending on everything – but NEVER to raise taxes on corporations and wealthy plutocrats to increase government revenue to pay off the debt. Republicans have even expressed a desire to default on the U.S. debt this summer if their extortion demands are not met. This will cause an economic catastrophe for both the country, and the global economy.

So Let’s fact check this bullshit Republican disinformation campaign. The New York Times reported, Republican Votes Helped Washington Pile Up Debt:

President Biden submit[ted] his latest budget request to Congress on Thursday, offering what his administration says will be $2 trillion in plans to reduce deficits and future growth of the national debt.

Republicans, who are demanding deep spending cuts in exchange for raising the nation’s borrowing cap, will almost certainly greet that proposal with a familiar refrain: Mr. Biden and his party are to blame for ballooning the debt.

But an analysis of House and Senate voting records, and of fiscal estimates of legislation prepared by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, shows that Republicans bear at least equal blame as Democrats for the biggest drivers of federal debt growth that passed Congress over the last two presidential administrations.

The national debt has grown to $31.4 trillion from just under $6 trillion in 2000, bumping against the statutory limit on federal borrowing. That increase, which spanned the presidential administrations of two Republicans and two Democrats, has been fueled by tax cuts, wars, economic stimulus and the growing costs of retirement and health programs. Since 2017, when Donald J. Trump took the White House, Republicans and Democrats in Congress have joined together to pass a series of spending increases and tax cuts that the budget office projects will add trillions to the debt.

The analysis is based on the forecasts that the C.B.O. regularly issues for the federal budget. They include descriptions of newly passed legislation that affects spending, revenues and deficits, tallying the costs of those new laws over the course of a decade. Going back to the start of Mr. Trump’s tenure, those reports highlight 13 new laws that, by the C.B.O.’s projections, will combine to add more than $11.5 trillion to the debt.

Nearly three-quarters of that new debt was approved in bills that gained the support of a majority of Republicans in at least one chamber of Congress. Three-fifths of it was signed into law by Mr. Trump.

As Pro Publica reported in January, Donald Trump Built a National Debt So Big (Even Before the Pandemic) That It’ll Weigh Down the Economy for Years:

One of President Donald Trump’s lesser known but profoundly damaging legacies will be the explosive rise in the national debt that occurred on his watch. The financial burden that he’s inflicted on our government will wreak havoc for decades, saddling our kids and grandkids with debt.

The national debt has risen by almost $7.8 trillion during Trump’s time in office. That’s nearly twice as much as what Americans owe on student loans, car loans, credit cards and every other type of debt other than mortgages, combined, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It amounts to about $23,500 in new federal debt for every person in the country.

The growth in the annual deficit under Trump ranks as the third-biggest increase, relative to the size of the economy, of any U.S. presidential administration, according to a calculation by a leading Washington budget maven, Eugene Steuerle, co-founder of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. And unlike George W. Bush and Abraham Lincoln, who oversaw the larger relative increases in deficits, Trump did not launch two foreign conflicts or have to pay for a civil war.

Economists agree that we needed massive deficit spending during the COVID-19 crisis to ward off an economic cataclysm, but federal finances under Trump had become dire even before the pandemic. That happened even though the economy was booming and unemployment was at historically low levels. By the Trump administration’s own description, the pre-pandemic national debt level was already a “crisis” and a “grave threat.”

The combination of Trump’s 2017 GQP tax cut and the lack of any serious spending restraint helped both the deficit and the debt soar. [The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which reduced taxes without offsetting spending cuts, passed with only Republican support in Congress.] So when the once-in-a-lifetime viral disaster slammed our country and we threw more than $3 trillion into COVID-19-related stimulus, there was no longer any margin for error.

Our national debt has reached immense levels relative to our economy, nearly as high as it was at the end of World War II.

“The debt we’re paying on — and we’re going to have a little discussion about that with the — with the new Majority Leader of the House — has accumulated over 200 years. Over 200 years. Not a joke. That’s how long — that’s what — that’s what the national debt is. It’s over, you know, $31 trillion, but it’s over 200 years.

And one quarter of that debt — one quarter of that debt was accumulated in the four years of my predecessor. One quarter of it.

Remarks by President Biden at the U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting.

Falling deeper into the red is the opposite of what Trump, the self-styled “King of Debt,” said would happen if he became president. In a March 31, 2016, interview with Bob Woodward and Robert Costa of The Washington Post, Trump said he could pay down the national debt, then about $19 trillion, “over a period of eight years” by renegotiating trade deals and spurring economic growth.

After he took office, Trump predicted that economic growth created by the 2017 tax cut, combined with the proceeds from the tariffs he imposed on a wide range of goods from numerous countries, would help eliminate the budget deficit and let the U.S. begin to pay down its debt. On July 27, 2018, he told Sean Hannity of Fox News: “We have $21 trillion in debt. When this [the 2017 tax cut] really kicks in, we’ll start paying off that debt like it’s water.”

[T]he deficit growth under Trump has been historic. Steuerle, of the Tax Policy Center, has done a comparison of every American president using a metric called the “primary deficit.” It’s defined as the deficit minus interest costs, because interest is the only budget expense that presidents and Congress can’t control unless they want to do the unthinkable and default on the debt. Steuerle examined the records of 45 presidents to see how the primary deficit had shrunk or grown relative to the size of the economy between the first and final years of each president’s administration.

Trump had the third-biggest primary deficit growth, 5.2% of GDP, behind only George W. Bush (11.7%) and Abraham Lincoln (9.4%). Bush, of course, not only passed a big tax cut, as Trump has, but also launched two wars, which greatly inflated the defense budget. Lincoln had to pay for the Civil War. By contrast, Trump’s wars have been almost entirely of the political variety.

Our national debt is now at its highest level relative to our economy since the end of World War II. After the war ended, the extraordinary military expenses disappeared, a postwar recovery began and the debt began to fall rapidly relative to the size of the economy. But that’s not going to happen this time.

The New York Times continues:

Many of the votes were roundly bipartisan: More than 85 percent of the projected debt added over the last six years passed with a majority of Democratic votes in both chambers. Almost an identical amount of debt passed with at least a third of Republican votes in the House or Senate. Chief among them were a series of Covid-19 relief measures totaling more than $3 trillion and passing with landslide majorities in 2020.

Some of the laws passed entirely along party lines. In those cases, on net, Republicans added slightly more to the debt than Democrats.That’s because of the sweeping corporate and individual tax cuts that Mr. Trump signed into law at the end of 2017, which cost $2 trillion. Despite Republican claims that the tax cuts paid for themselves, the C.B.O. estimated last month that Mr. Trump’s corporate tax cuts alone would cost the federal government hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue in the years to come. Earlier C.B.O. analyses suggest that the full slate of tax cuts have already cost the government $1.2 trillion through the 2022 fiscal year.

The tax cuts’ price tag outweighed the net cost of the two most fiscally consequential bills that Mr. Biden and Democrats passed along party lines: a $1.9 trillion economic aid bill in 2021 and a climate, health and tax bill approved late last summer, which is projected to reduce future deficits by nearly $300 billion.

Republicans Want To Double-Down On Their Reckless Tax Cuts

House Republicans have pushed to extend the 2017 tax cuts, which would add trillions to the debt. They also support rolling back tax increases and enhanced tax enforcement measures approved by Mr. Biden, which would have the effect of adding hundreds of billions of dollars to deficits if they were to succeed.

Top congressional Republicans rarely acknowledge the role that their party has played in adding to deficits and debt in recent years, instead [falsely casting] blame on Mr. Biden and Democrats.

Beyond Congress, Republican candidates have long tweaked their party for not taking a harder line on spending and debt. “The last two Republican presidents added more than $10 trillion to the national debt,” Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador who is now running for president, told the conservative Club for Growth on Saturday, as reported by Politico. “Think about that. A third of our debt happened under just two Republicans.”

Biden administration officials [accurately] blame Mr. Trump and former President George W. Bush for running up debt [both had a Republican Congress], particularly with tax cuts. They claim credit for a decline in the budget deficit under Mr. Biden, even though that mostly occurred because the federal government stopped passing emergency aid bills as the pandemic eased its grip on the economy.

“I’m not going to sit and be lectured by MAGA Republicans in Congress about fiscal responsibility,” Mr. Biden wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

The budget office’s math is unsparing: It shows both parties acting, often together, to increase deficits and debt in recent years.

Mr. Biden has signed laws that are set to add just under $5 trillion to the debt over the next decade, by the C.B.O.’s estimation. The actual amount could be far less because of a quirk in how the C.B.O. accounts for two bills: the infrastructure bill Mr. Biden signed in 2021 and legislation enacted last year to expand health care for military veterans exposed to toxic burn pits. That quirk, which requires the budget office to assume certain spending will continue indefinitely even though Congress has not authorized it to do so, could be inflating the cost of the bills by nearly $1.3 trillion.

The estimate of the burn pits legislation could be counting nearly $400 billion in spending twice. The bill essentially shifts a large amount of spending on veterans from a budget category called discretionary spending to one called mandatory spending. The budget office recognizes the new mandatory spending but assumes Congress will not cut discretionary veterans’ spending commensurately. Similarly, the infrastructure law calls for spending on projects like roads and broadband to increase in the near term and then taper off. The C.B.O. estimates that tapering will never actually happen, and that spending will keep rising at the rate of inflation in later years.

But Mr. Biden has added to the debt not just by signing laws. He has also taken unilateral action that independent experts say could cost the federal government hundreds of billions of dollars. That includes the president’s plan to forgive student loan debts for a wide swath of borrowers who earn less than $125,000 a year. The plan, which is on hold as it faces a challenge before the Supreme Court, would add $400 billion to deficits over the next 30 years if carried out, according to budget office estimates.

Mr. Trump, by comparison, signed laws adding nearly $7 trillion to the debt in his four-year term, by the budget office’s estimation. That number does not include the cost of making permanent the individual tax cuts passed in 2017 that are set to expire after 2025; the C.B.O. assumes those cuts will expire as scheduled.

Mr. McCarthy has acknowledged the degree of debt that Mr. Trump signed into law with the help of Republicans and Democrats in Congress. But he has blamed Mr. Biden for continued spending after the president entered the White House, and has made clear that House Republicans will demand steep cuts in exchange for raising the debt limit.

1 thought on “Fact Checking GQP Propaganda On Federal Debt: Republicans Are More Than Equally To Blame”

  1. A budget is indeed a moral document.

    So let’s back-out that 85 billion dollar increase (that Biden signed) in the pentagon’s budget. Then cut another few hundred billion.

    Debt is useful, deficits are bad, more money for death is like extra-super bad.

    We can use the money to help the defense workers get by until they get new jobs, and to fund good things like schools and healthcare and science and food for the hungry.

    Maybe try that universal basic income thing.

    Dems are better at math, deficits come down under Dems, but the “moral document” argument fails on both sides.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: