When President Obama essentially doubled the national debt during his eight years in office, Republicans took him to task — and rightfully so. Now that annual deficits are soaring over $1 trillion, nobody’s talking about the national debt! Why? Neither the Democrats nor their media cousins consider deficits or debt to be urgent, and Republicans are not going to raise any concerns that might adversely affect the best economy in the world.
Years ago during the Obama administration, a couple of business majors in my public speaking class wanted to give speeches on the dangers of national deficits and the debt. Their comments generated a number of comments from fellow classmates, both for and against their theses. One classmate said he didn’t believe America had any debt. He said his family believed all the fuss over the soaring debt was made up by the media to scare us.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans feel no sense of urgency about reducing deficits or the debt regardless of their political leanings. Federal deficits and debt are political things. Household deficits and debt generate a lot more urgency as well as a lot more political attention. Some 2020 candidates for president are promising all kinds of relief for voters in dire economic straits. “Forgive all college loans.” “Guarantee annual incomes.” “Free healthcare for everyone, including illegal immigrants.”
Needless to say, the American economy is on an expressway to higher deficits and crushing debt. So, what’s the worst that could happen? You don’t want to know. Ignorance is bliss. Only economists and historians can imagine what could happen to America, and even they cannot agree on how or when. The debate boils down to big central government control vs. reducing the size and scope of big government and letting free markets drive the economy.
America was founded on really sound principles that took into account human nature’s tendencies to seek money and power. Even with reasonable constitutional constraints, career politicians soon gained control of the federal government. Some historians believe America’s Civil War was more about the struggle over power of individual states vs. power of the federal government than about slavery. Today’s history textbooks rarely if ever reference that struggle over government power. Slavery and race are much more convenient diversions.
At the national level today, political issues on the surface include gun control, abortion, (illegal) immigration and health care. At least, these are the hot topics among 2020 candidates for president. All of these are knee-jerk domestic issues. What about foreign affairs? Dude, nobody cares about anything at the international level any more! Everybody just wants his or her fair share of whatever’s being handed out!
Last month Congress passed a bill with $320 billion in NEW spending that would also allow the government to keep on borrowing more money. Just over half of Republican senators voted for the bill. This is what happens when politicians pass budgets.
With so many candidates vying for the party’s nomination, Democrats and their media cousins will continue to block federal deficits and debt out of the national narrative. Instead, they’ll hawk diversions like taking assault weapons off the street in spite of the fact that many thousands more die from handguns. They’re not really interested in reducing gun deaths. They’re interested in politics and power.
That’s what happens when career politicians run the government.
Daniel L. Gardner is a syndicated columnist who lives in Starkville. Contact him at PJandMe2@gmail.com.