This week the Republican Congress passed a massive tax overhaul thereby cutting taxes for individuals and corporations. While I admit to being one of those individuals about to receive a tax cut, my concern is in the dirty details of $1.4 trillion being added to the national debt to pay for these tax cuts. Yes, trillion with a capital T.
As a deficit hawk, I cannot understand how Republicans cheer this concept of cutting taxes and paying for it with borrowed money. For years, the Republicans railed against “tax and spend” Democrats. Now they have become the party of “borrow and spend.” This tax cut plan is premised on an ephemeral growth rate of 4, 5, or even 6 percent with no evidence to support that premise.
Future generations will be saddled with this debt. As you’re gathering to celebrate the holidays, take a long hard look at your kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews. This is the debt legacy we are leaving them. We’re enjoying the benefits of the tax cuts now, they will be responsible for this debt bill in the future.
As I write this the national debt is $20.6 trillion and increasing. Over the next 10 years this tax overhaul will add another $1.4 trillion to that debt.
What comes next is pretty easy to foretell. The Republicans will get religion and start squawking about the rising total debt, and well as the yearly deficit which currently stands at over $600 billion. We saw the fight start Thursday as Congress debated and passed a continuing resolution(CR) to keep the federal government open for another three weeks.
This CR contained barely adequate money for disaster relief, fights over the Childhood Health Insurance Program (CHIP, which ran out of funds back in September), and for the defense hawks, no additional funding.
As the debt continues to balloon over the next decade, we as a country will have to tighten our belts. Cuts in federal spending will filter down to Fayette County in lowered education funding, delayed highway projects, and unfunded infrastructure improvements.
Higher debt loads lead to higher interest rates and interest payments; this debt will voraciously consume an ever growing portion of total federal revenue.
So I ask my senators and congressional rep, what is the end game if the promised growth does not occur? What legacy have we left for the generations to come?
Maybe I’m completely wrong in my outlook; I certainly hope so. But history is littered with civilizations that collapsed under the weight of debts they could not repay. We, as a country, got into debt over many years by spending money we didn’t have for things we didn’t need (anyone remember the Iraq War paid for with borrowed money?).
To improve our situation, it will take targeted revenue increases as well as targeted spending cuts. We can’t pay down the debt by simply cutting spending, there is not that much discretionary spending in the budget. And we certainly can’t pay down the debt by cutting taxes.
Go online and check out the U.S. Debt clock and watch the numbers spin. It is irresponsible to ignore this ever-increasing debt simply to fulfill a campaign pledge to cut taxes.