We’re now $22 trillion in debt, yet despite all that red ink, the Mexican cartels have control of our border and we’re not one bit closer to spending money on our own security. We’ve gone into deep debt for everything except the core function of the federal government.
It feels like it was yesterday when I was watching the news as a kid with my parents in 1995, listening to Newt Gingrich, during the infamous shutdown fight, warn about the dire consequences of crossing the $5 trillion debt milestone. It feels like it was yesterday when I was writing press releases for candidates in “the year of the Tea Party” on how Obama and the Pelosi Congress took the debt to $14 trillion in such a short period of time. Now, over eight years into varying degrees of GOP control of Congress and the White House, we have crossed the $22 trillion mark, expanding the debt more rapidly than at any time in our history. Whereas the debt exploded by $5 trillion during Bush’s eight-year tenure, a shocking figure at the time, it has now increased $8 trillion just since Republicans controlled the House in 2011 and by $4 trillion over the past four years, since they controlled at least two of the three political organs of government.
Now, the only question Republicans have is how many pennies of border security they will fight for, while refusing to challenge any of the nonessential and even harmful programs of the federal government. The GOP platform on debt and spending is a lie from top to bottom, as Republicans plan to pass more budget bills allowing us to blow through the budget caps without any effort to systemically reform the way we budget.
Now that Republicans are planning to cave on border funding, can they at least force a confrontation with Democrats over spending levels for functions of government that are nowhere near as important as border security? Thus, departments like HUD, which were able to completely shut down for a month with nobody noticing, will continue to enjoy record spending. We will continue to provide security for Kabul and Baghdad with the beefed-up military budget since last year’s budget deal, but no funding for our border or meaningful use of the military to protect our own sovereignty from the daily incursions by the most brutal cartels on earth.
Why even have a Republican Party any more?
Even more indefensible, unlike during the end of Bush’s years and the beginning of Obama’s tenure, when we first began accruing trillion-dollar annual deficits, we are not facing a deep recession. In fact, we are enjoying the most robust period of job growth since the late 1990s, and revenue is at a record high baseline.
Let it be known for all of time that dire predictions of revenue slumping as a result of the tax cuts were fake news. The entirety of the current deficit problem is due to increased spending. According to the latest monthly report released by the Treasury Department yesterday, spending was up 9.6 percent for the first three months of fiscal year 2019 relative to the first three months of FY 2018. What about revenues? They actually rose slightly by 0.2 percent, despite some declines in certain revenue categories. This is an important statistic, because it is the first clean metric we have comparing a period of time with the tax cuts in full implementation to a period before the tax cuts.
Moreover, some of the increased tax revenue from more payroll taxes likely would not have occurred without the job creation spawned by the tax cuts. If you isolate the revenue tallies for individual and corporate taxes, the government obviously did lose some revenue in certain categories, but it was made up by a $15 billion increase in payroll tax revenue (FICA, Social Security taxes), in addition to increased revenue from excise taxes.
The annual deficit after just three months stood at $319 billion, well on pace to smash the trillion-dollar deficit mark for the first time in a booming economy.
Thus, this bipartisan era of debt is worse than anything we’ve seen this generation, and it is all happening with record revenue and a booming economy – with no world war consuming our economy and budget.
Thanks to Republican-approved budget deals, for the first three months of the fiscal year, outlays for HHS are up 12.5 percent, outlays for the Department of Education spiked 23 percent, and outlays for the Department of Commerce have doubled! Meanwhile, outlays on Homeland Security have actually been down by 30 percent because of less disaster spending under FEMA than last year. But it’s not like we went on a spending binge for Border Patrol and ICE. Outlays on military spending are up 8.45 percent, but again, what is the purpose of the military if we use it everywhere else in the world except against those who most directly harm us at our own border?
All of this spending is creating a crisis with interest payments on the debt. Net interest payments for the first quarter are up to $100 billion. That is an annualized pace of $400 billion, almost twice the level it has been in recent years. And this is just the beginning.
What is driving the most debt? The issue where Republicans now agree with Democrats: socialized medicine. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is now bashing the Freedom Caucus for opposing the key element of Obamacare responsible for driving up the cost of insurance, thereby generating the massive spending and the monopoly created by the health care industry.
Health care is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. Federal spending on health care (not including state expenditures) is projected to be $17 trillion over the next 10 years, dwarfing the cost of Social Security and the military. By 2047, health care spending will be about 25 percent greater than the insolvent and crushing cost of Social Security. As such, health care in itself is the largest driver of the other great crisis, as noted: the mushrooming cost of the interest on the debt itself. Health care spending alone will be greater than all the revenue from payroll taxes and corporate income taxes combined and almost as large as individual income tax revenue.
This is all going to the creation of a monopoly in a circuitous death spiral of price inflation and increased government spending. It’s no mystery why our national expenditures on health care have popped from $27 billion in 1960 to over $3.3 trillion today. Assuming health care would rise at the same rate as the rest of the economy, that number would be under $250 billion today. If we flushed $1.6 trillion down the toilet every year, we’d come out with a better result because we’d just waste money. Now, we are taking that wasted money and artificially inflating the cost of health care to the point that nobody can afford it without government continuing the death spiral of spending, monopolizing, and price inflation.
Yet Republicans have acquiesced to every degree of this baseline and are only debating how much more socialized medicine they will countenance while fake-fighting the rest. Then they will say we have to agree to the new socialized medicine in order to fight the next plan. Rinse and repeat.
Now, instead of looking to cut spending elsewhere, Republican senators met with Ivanka Trump to see how they can create a new entitlement of paid family leave like they have in Europe, but of course without adding to the deficit and distorting our job market! They will find a “conservative way” to agree to Democrats.
With the deficits for FY 2019 skyrocketing just as much as the illegal immigration numbers, at some point conservatives need to asses their rate of return on the Republican Party.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to correct “$319 trillion” to “$319 billion.” CR regrets the error.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.