• Irresponsible Government Spending Has Ugly Moral Side to It as Well

    Surge Summary: The downside of the federal government’s out-of-control spending isn’t just financial – but a disgraceful moral component as well.

    Indeed, there is a moral dimension to America’s national debt – its problems and implications aren’t only limited to pragmatic matters of dollars-and-cents.

    Michael D. Tanner drives home the point:

    Oh Lord, give me chastity,” St. Augustine is reputed to have said. “But don’t give it yet.” So it is with Republicans who have vowed to show some fiscal discipline — sometime during President Trump’s second term.

    But while we are waiting, the Congressional Budget Office has announced that this year’s budget deficit will top $960 billion, $63 billion more than predicted in May of this year. And next year’s deficit will almost certainly exceed it. After that, the era of trillion-dollar deficits is here to stay. By 2029, CBO reports our $22 trillion national debt will top around $34 trillion.

    And if precedent serves as prologue, we can expect it will turn out being even higher than that estimate.

    President Trump, writes Tanner mordantly, “may accomplish the truly Herculean feat of becoming a bigger deficit spender than President Obama.”

    Gulp.  And keep in mind, this could occur without operating during a current, catastrophic recession.

    Let’s be clear: Against popular wisdom, it wasn’t — was not — the much-derided GOP tax cut that brought the nation to this pass. Hard fact: compared to 2018, tax revenues have gone up – up! — 3 percent in fiscal year 2019’s first nine months. The actual source of U.S. fiscal woes? It’s nothing new: out-of-control spending.

    The CBO estimates that federal outlays in 2019 will total $4.4 trillion, a $300 billion increase in nominal spending since 2018. Discretionary spending is up. Defense spending is up. Entitlement spending is up. There is no effort to prioritize or make the difficult choices of governing, there is only … more.

    “While I realize that Congress controls the purse strings,” confesses Tanner,

    it is also true that President Trump has shown exactly zero interest in restraining spending. The only time he speaks out on budget matters is to demand more money for his latest pet project.

    Neither, he affirms, can the nation look to the Democrats for relief. “Their spending plans would make Caligula look like Scrooge McDuck.”

    Consider that with the release of his $16.3 trillion green-energy plan, Bernie Sanders has now promised more than $58 trillion in additional spending over the next ten years.

    And the Vermont Senator is not the socialist exception to the Donkey Party rule. Consider:

    — Elizabeth Warren: proposing an estimated $40 trillion of increased spending over the next decade.

    — Kamala Harris: suggesting an additional $43 trillion over ten years.

    — “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg: proposing $6.9 trillion of more outlays.

    The alleged “moderate” of the bunch, Joe Biden? So far even he’s up for fattening spending by $2.97 trillion.

    Worse, the Iowa caucuses are still six months away. The giant pander-fest that is the Democratic primary is just getting started. The race is on to see which candidate can be the first to promise more than $100 trillion in spending the government can’t afford.

    One wonders how all those young people complaining about their student debt would react if they understood that their theoretical share of the national debt was about $67,000.

    The growing debt does not come without consequences. There are, of course, economic repercussions. Over time, debt can slow growth, reduce wages, and hinder our flexibility in responding to economic slowdowns.

    More important, there is a moral dimension as well. Every child born today inherits a portion of that debt. We are living at our children’s expense. You can’t get much more “taxation without representation” than that.

    Summary: Today’s outlandish federal spending situation stinks all the way around, on multiple levels.

    Will a majority of our elected leaders – Republican and Democrat — ever recognize this ugly situation in any kind of meaningful sense? That is, in a manner which prompts more than campaign boilerplate, but which forces them to take practical steps to address it, correct it, guide voters to demand something other than more goodies?

    H/T Michael Tanner/National Review

    Related Columns:

    Let’s Be Honest: President, Republicans Dropping the Ball on the Budget Deal

    Free-Spending Dems NOT the Party of Our Fathers — or of America’s Future

    Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

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