Thursday, 22 March 2018

House-passed Budget Bill Would Significantly Add to the $21 Trillion National Debt

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The national debt of the United States passed the $21 trillion mark for the first time on March 16. But even more important than the size of America’s pile of national debt is how rapidly it’s growing. 

A recent article in Business Insider observed that in the span of a single day, from March 15 to 16, the national debt grew by $73 billion! Most disturbingly, noted the BI writer, the national debt has grown by more than $1 trillion — just in the last six months.

Things will not improve in the near future, either. Under the budget law passed in February, the federal government will not face any borrowing limit until March 1, 2019. If it continues its current pace of spending, the government will add at least $1 trillion to the national debt by then.

As we write, the House has just passed a 2,232-page, $1.3 trillion federal spending bill on a 256-167 vote

“The House just voted to rebuild our military, secure our borders, and give our service members their largest pay raise in eight years,” Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said following the vote.

The bill will now be sent to the Senate for debate and final passage. However, any senator can slow down the process if he or she does not want the bill to be passed quickly.

An AFP report quoted Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, who told reporters: “Is the president going to sign the bill? The answer is yes.” Continuing, Mulvaney said: “Is it perfect? No. Is it exactly what we asked for? No.”

The report noted that the spending bill sets defense spending levels at $700 billion for the year, amounting to an increase of $61 billion above the 2017 cap. Non-defense domestic spending will increase about 10 percent to billion. 

A related article published by The New American today provides more details of what is found in the bill.

The bill also provides $1.6 billion for border security and funds to construct or fix nearly 100 miles of border fencing and barriers, which is far less than President Trump wanted. It also increases infrastructure spending, as well as funding for school safety and student grants.

The bill does not contain any language to settle the status of so-called Dreamers, the young aliens brought to this country by their parents who have been living in the United States illegally since childhood. They have been sheltered from deportation through the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. The Trump administration sought to end the DACA program but has been prevented from doing so by several federal courts.

“We are disappointed that we did not reach agreement on Dreamer protections that were worthy of these patriotic young people,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

CBS News reported that last month, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) triggered a brief government shutdown over his objections to the deficit spending. On March 21, he tweeted his opposition to the emerging legislation, known as an “omnibus” bill.

“It’s a good thing we have Republican control of Congress or the Democrats might bust the budget caps, fund Planned Parenthood and Obamacare, and sneak gun control without due process into an Omni ... wait, what?” Paul tweeted.

Paul’s remarks were facetious, since all of the provisions he objected to are found in the bill passed by the Republican-controlled House.

One major concern that the Business Insider reporter wrote about is that the increase in the national debt is vastly outpacing growth in the GDP (Gross Domestic Product). He offered these statistics to illustrate his point.

Last year, the U.S. economy grew by 2.5 percent in “real” terms, that is. factoring out inflation.

However, even if inflation is included in the calculation, the size of the U.S. economy increased by 4.4 percent. Yet the national debt outpaced that, growing by 6 percent. He wrote:

Now that might not seem like a big difference. But it is. On a proportional basis, the national debt expanded 36% faster than the US economy (even if you include inflation). [Bold text in original.]

In an opinion piece posted by The New American earlier today, Dr. Veronique de Rugy said this about the omnibus spending bill:

You can also expect Republicans and President Trump to spin this as a “huge” victory for their team. After all, isn't it a sign that they can govern? Sure, if you tolerate massive deficit spending, being irresponsible and pushing all that liability down the throat of future generations. I don’t, because I actually care about the well-being of my kids and grandkids….

Republicans are terrible negotiators. For example, Democrats have once again managed to get most of their non-defense priorities funded by the Republican-controlled Congress and White House in exchange for allowing more defense spending. The result is a $143 billion boost to this year’s spending above budget caps. Who cares about budget rules and deficits when you can throw more cash at the Department of Defense?

For generations, fiscal conservatives have voted for Republican members of Congress and sent Republican presidents to the White House, thinking that these GOP politicians will rein in government spending better than the "big spending" Democrats. Yet, federal deficits and the national debt continue to grow, no matter who is in the driver's seat. The only solution is better voter education and involvement and in constituents holding their representatives' feet to the fire and insisting that they vote against any increases in the federal budget. The litmus test should be the Constitution. If the Constitution does not authorize it, then the federal government should not be spending money on it.

Photo: DNY59/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Related articles:

Republican House Passes Mammoth Budget-busting Omnibus Spending Bill

Swamp Spending 101: The Omnibus Spending Bill

National Debt a Serious Threat

Trump’s Budget Won’t be Balanced, Just Restrained

Former U.S. Comptroller: National Debt is $65 Trillion, Not $18 Trillion

Public-Private Partnerships the Key to Trump’s Infrastructure Plan

Trump Infrastructure Proposal Illustrative of Modern American Politics

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