At a time when the American Republic desperately needed to summon some long-overdue fiscal discipline, its politicians instead plunged the country deeper into debt via the passage of a massive, pork-laden omnibus spending bill.
The total damage? A whopping $1.7 trillion.
This 4,155-page bill (.pdf) – signed into law by U.S. president Joe Biden the Friday prior to the holiday weekend – takes effect as the U.S. debt is approaching $31.5 trillion. Of more immediate concern, it takes effective at a time when interest payments on that debt – and underlying interest rates – are soaring.
According to the latest report (.pdf) from the U.S. Treasury, the borrowing costs related to America’s rising tide of red ink eclipsed $475 billion during the recently concluded fiscal year – up from $352 billion the previous fiscal year. Those payments are projected to top $1 trillion annually during the coming decade – inviting what former U.S. congressman Ron Paul has called “the mother of all economic crises.”
Or to put it another way, an end to the proverbial road down which generations of politicians (Democrats and Republicans) have kicked the proverbial can for decades …
“After living with the worst inflation in forty years, much of which was caused by the trillions of dollars in spending that President Biden and Congress agreed to spend over the past year, taxpayers were hoping for a happy end to the year,” noted Deborah Collier for Citizens Against Government Waste. “But the big spenders in Washington do not know when to stop and delivered a giant lump of coal in time for Christmas.”
Collier wasn’t the only one who took a dim view of the pre-Christmas pork fest.
The editorial board of The Wall Street Journal blasted the 117th Congress – which it dubbed “the most spendthrift in history” – for going out “with one final bipartisan back-slapping hurrah … the worst in history.”
“This is no way to govern in a democracy, but here we are,” the board wrote.
“The political process here is as bad as most of the policy,” the board added. “Major changes in law deserve their own debate and vote. Instead, a handful of powerful legislators wrote this vast bill in a backroom.”
Again, both parties share in the blame for this orgy of unsustainable excess – the latest in a long line of “Christmas Tree” appropriation bills.
The only difference this time? The red ink is finally starting to rise above our necks …
The federal government’s debt stood at $5.6 trillion at the end of fiscal year 2000 – shortly before former president George W. Bush and a GOP Congress took control in Washington, D.C. By the time the GOP lost control of Congress in 2006, the debt was $8.5 trillion – and by the time Barack Obama was elected president it had climbed to more than $10.6 trillion.
That debt has since tripled … with the GOP playing a starring role in this mindless escalation.
Former U.S. president Donald Trump, for example, vowed to end deficit spending and reduce the debt during his tenure in the White House – which began with the debt at $19.9 trillion. He failed miserably to live up to either of those promises.
Trump’s profligacy began early during his term … and extended to his final weeks in office.
“Democrats, Republicans … Republicans, Democrats,” I noted when Trump took office. “It hasn’t mattered.”
And still doesn’t …
“This process stinks,” U.S. senator Rand Paul tweeted. “It’s an abomination. It’s a no good rotten way to run government.”
The only question? How long Americans plan on ping-ponging unsustainable debt increases back and forth between the same two failed parties?
If Americans haven’t figured out the two-party system is the true culprit here, they probably never will. But even if they belatedly realize they have been subjected to an “echo, not a choice” at the polls since the 1960s, it’s hard to say the damage hasn’t already been done.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.
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The uproar about the national debt and deficit spending kind of falls flat when literally every conservative president since Reagan has made it much, much worse while in office, and the fact that the uproar is weaponized against programs that help fellow citizens rather than those abusing taxpayer money and the government at large.
Compare the national debt to the trillions in offshore accounts and other tax shelters, and then bear witness to the government being at the beck and call of the holders of those hoards of wealth helping them generate it in the first place.
The problem is revenue. Republicans take every chance they get to cut taxes on the richest Americans and Giant Corporations. When it comes to spending the only thing they offer is cuts to programs that benefit middle income and lower income Americans. That is what is unsustainable. The richest Americans control virtually the entire economy. We are at or near the same ratio as during the late 1800s. We simply have to increase taxes on rich people and large corporations. We are seeing record wealth growth among the top 5% of Americans and Record Profits among large corporation. At least these people could try to meet the middle class half way and we could try to get back to more of a ratio we had from WWII to 1980.