One of the reasons Trump and the Republican Party lost control after the 2018 midterms had to do with Washington’s spending addiction. Instead of reining in government spending as they had promised to do, Republicans set records and exploded the deficit. Washington’s spending addiction was also a contributing factor in Republicans’ losing Congress and the White House in 2020.
Donald Trump boldly claimed during the GOP presidential primaries in 2016 to rein government spending on his way to eliminating the national debt — a mere $19 trillion at the time — “over a period of eight years.” Likewise, the Republican Party made a commitment to address the national debt and included it in the party’s 2016 platform.
“The huge increase in the national debt demanded by and incurred during the current Administration has placed a significant burden on future generations. We must impose firm caps on future debt, accelerate the repayment of the trillions we now owe in order to reaffirm our principles of responsible and limited government, and remove the burdens we are placing on future generations.”
Calling for an intervention to bring an end to Washington’s spending an addiction is not hyperbole.
Drug addiction, for example, is a disease that affects a person’s brain and behavior to the point that he/she is unable to resist the urge to find the next high no matter how much harm it may cause to themselves or others.
Likewise, the spending addiction in Washington is a political disease that affects their brains and behavior to the point that Republicans and Democrats alike are unable to resist the urge to find the next spending high.
Short of an intervention or an admission of their need for help, addicts will try to hide their addiction in many ways, including blaming others for their problem and scheming for ways to get more money for their addiction. Sometimes, their only hope for help is an intervention, which is why I called for one in Washington over two years ago.
As Trump’s term came to an end, he and the Republican Party increased the national debt nearly $8 trillion in four years — about the same increase we got from Obama in eight years — thus continuing the explosion in the national debt we’ve witnessed under varying degrees of Republican control of Congress and the White House since 2011.
Faced with the reality that Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, and Nancy Pelosi would be running the show for the next two years, Republicans recently dusted off their “fiscal conservative” talking points to let the world know they are ready to reduce government spending and tackle the national debt after doing the exact opposite over the past four years. Really, they did!
Remember, this isn’t an admission of their addiction, only an attempt to hide it.
As I mentioned above, Washington’s spending addiction is a sickness suffered by both Republicans and Democrats. But with Democrats under the magnifying glass and the successful passage of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan earlier this month, Joe Biden and crew are making plans for $3 trillion in new spending on things like infrastructure, education, work force development, and fighting climate change.
And here’s something sure to warmed the cockles of Elizabeth Warren’s heart — and the hearts of a majority of Republicans — this newest round of spending will be “paid” for via tax increases on corporations and the rich.
Who needs an intervention when you can blame your spending addiction on evil corporations and the rich?
By the way, the total of this new proposal will exceed $3 trillion because that number doesn’t include the cost of extending new temporary tax cuts meant to fight poverty, which could reach hundreds of billions of dollars. Biden’s people have yet to determine the exact price tag.
As is often true of spending addicts, America’s credit card, figuratively speaking, has been maxed out — as we read in an op-ed written by the Founder & CEO of Open The Books, Adam Andrzejewski, for TheCenterSquare.com:
Americans understand personal debt all too well. There are whole industries to help people get out of debt, one even suggests freezing credit cards in ice to delay overspending.
The federal government and D.C. politicians talk about debt. But the last three presidents combined, along with the current president and a lot of help from Congress, have created record-breaking levels of national debt. Yet they are not cutting up their credit cards and they keep voting themselves higher spending limits.
The Congressional Budget Office reported in February that the federal government’s debt is expected to exceed the size of the American economy this year, even before counting the $1.9 trillion COVID-relief package recently signed by President Joe Biden. In fiscal year 2018, debt was 78% of all GDP, and, with all laws extended, it was projected to be 96% of GDP in FY2028. COVID spending moved up our insolvency. (emphasis mine)
According to the Treasury Department, Washington’s spending addiction has added over $22 trillion to the national debt during the past three administrations: George W. Bush added $6.1 trillion over eight years, Barack Obama added $8.3 trillion over eight years, and Donald Trump added $7.8 trillion over four years.
Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, Biden has already added trillions to the national debt in just his first two months in office. And if his $3 trillion proposal becomes law, as I expect it will, he could leave all of his predecessors in the dust.
Andrzejewski points out that the United States has only been debt-free twice — 1834 and 1835 — and he concludes that since our country is currently on an unsustainable spending spree, “someone needs to freeze (or cut up) Washington, D.C.’s credit cards, which are more than maxed out.”
I understand his point, but cutting up the credit card is a Band-Aid, not a a cure. The only way to break Washington’s spending addiction is with an intervention.
Merriam-Webster.com defines “addiction” as: a compulsive, chronic, physiological or psychological need for a habit-forming substance, behavior, or activity having harmful physical, psychological, or social effects and typically causing well-defined symptoms (such as anxiety, irritability, tremors, or nausea) upon withdrawal or abstinence: the state of being addicted.
In Washington, the “substance” is our tax money; the “activity” is government spending; the “effects” are financial insolvency; and the “symptoms upon withdrawal or abstinence” will be government’s reaction when they lose their positions of power.
According to Spender’s Anonymous, the first step to recovery is admitting that you’re powerless over spending and money and that your life has become unmanageable.
Powerless over spending and money? Life has become unmanageable? Sounds like the government to me, and it sounds like it’s time for an intervention to break Washington’s spending addiction.
David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable for their failure to uphold conservative values, and he promotes those values instead of political parties.