Donald Trump

The Spending Bill Brings Us Closer to National Bankruptcy

Thanks to Congress and President Trump, budget deficits will only mushroom.

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Someday, elderly Americans will reminisce about the days when the federal budget was in surplus, and their grandchildren will laugh in disbelief. "Sure—and you walked 5 miles in the snow to school, uphill both ways," they will reply.

It was not so long ago—2001, to be exact—but the achievement now seems like a relic of an ancient civilization whose strange customs we have long abandoned. We are about as likely to see another balanced budget as we are to see another dodo.

In the past 17 years, the federal government has spent about $15 trillion more than it has taken in. Publicly held federal debt equaled 31 percent of gross domestic product in 2001. Today, it's nearly 79 percent.

The blame is bipartisan. Deficits emerged and grew under George W. Bush. They eventually declined but persisted under Barack Obama. Because of the policies adopted by Donald Trump and the current Congress, budget deficits will only mushroom.

The crucial step in this development was the December enactment of a tax "reform" plan. Its main consequence was to add at least $1 trillion in deficits over the coming decade—on top of the $10 trillion that was already in the pipeline.

Republicans who voted for the proposal insist it will spur so much economic growth that it will pay for itself. Whether they believe that or don't care is open to debate, but the claim has no basis in reality.

A poll of 38 economists by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business found only one who agreed the tax plan will have a substantial positive effect on economic growth. All agreed it will enlarge the debt.

The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that in 2028, the debt will amount to 93 percent of GDP. That means the real burden on future taxpayers will be triple what it was in 2001.

Now would be the ideal time to close the fiscal gap. The economy is growing, corporations are profitable, and unemployment is low—factors that boost revenue. If deficits are inevitable and possibly useful during recessions, they serve no good purpose in the ninth year of an expansion. Surpluses would serve a good purpose, by reducing the debt burden and providing room to adapt policy to changing circumstances.

The movement of the baby boom generation from the labor force to the retirement rolls means that outlays are fated to grow, thanks to Social Security and Medicare. Absent significant (and politically dangerous) cuts in benefits, revenues will have to grow just to keep up with obligations.

Instead, Congress and the president are deliberately reducing Washington's income while upping its outlays. It's the equivalent of buying a more expensive house and then quitting your job—a formula for bankruptcy.

We have gotten used to a tide of red ink flowing over the dam. But we don't see that anymore—not because the red ink has stopped flowing but because the dam has disintegrated. The conventions that once served to check budgetary excess are suddenly gone.

When Congress approved and Trump signed a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending measure last week, they agreed that they didn't know what was in the 2,232-page bill. But we don't need to know the actual contents to see that it represents a historic disaster, any more than we need to know how many gallons of water Hurricane Harvey dumped on Texas.

It was a bit incongruous to hear Trump demand that Congress give him a line-item veto. But then, Bush asked for one, and so did Obama. What all three have in common is an unwillingness to seriously attack the deficit. Asking for a line-item veto is a hollow gesture.

Because our leaders have chosen to go on spending without taxing Americans to cover the full costs, revenues will increasingly be used not to pay for actual programs but to service the debt. "Under current law, the federal government will spend more on interest than it does on Medicaid by 2021 and more than it does on defense by 2024," says the CRFB.

Once the tax bill passed, the argument for spending restraint collapsed. Why contain outlays if the federal debt is going to explode regardless? The spending bill merely confirms, loudly, that neither party has any use for fiscal responsibility.

Our leaders realize that eventually, someone will pay a price for this irresponsibility. And they know it won't be them.

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201 responses to “The Spending Bill Brings Us Closer to National Bankruptcy

  1. Wait, Trump campaigned on paying off the entire federal debt in 8 years. That’s like promising to repeal the law of gravity. But his cult swallowed debt payoff, too. The same folks who’d defend him killing somebody in broad daylight, with witnesses. Must be Obama’s fault. Yeah, that’s it! The Kenyan. And the Fake Media!! Bastards.

    1. It is partially Obama’s fault. Remember, debt was accrued under him as well.

      No need to be so partisan.

      Right – Left = 0
      Right = Left

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      3. You’re way out of your depth. Obama never promised to pay off the entire debt.
        Trump say his puppets would stand by him, even if he killed somebody in broad daylight, with witnesses.
        So thanks for humiliating both yourself and the Donald. And for showing, yet again, that Left – Right = Zero.

        You may now select a lovely parting gift.
        Have a good day at the Kid’s Table!.

        1. So Obama was a good president? is that what you are saying?

          I suppose you think Bush and Clinton were good people too?

          You must because if you think Obama was a good guy, then you are incapable of understanding that they are all exactly the same.

          1. I think Obama was so pretentious and arrogant he’d be a royal pain to be around.

            Clinton would probably be one of the best people I could ever imagine to party with. The dude was charismatic and fairly funny.

            By all accounts, Bush the latter was also very likeable and often described as affable.

            I agree that Obama presided over the 3rd and 4th terms of Bush.

          2. So Obama was a good president? is that what you are saying?

            Is that what you read?

            I suppose you think Bush and Clinton were good people too?

            TOO?

            you are incapable of understanding

            (sneer)

            Left – Right = Zero

    2. Michael, Trump campaigned on paying off the federal debt but to do it takes congress cooperation. For the congress to cooperate it takes both democrats and republicans to work together. In this last budget the republicans to get the budget passed had to include lots of Billions to appease them. The republicans were afraid that if the government shut down again (they did not learn from the last one) they would be held as the reason so to pease the democrats the extra billions. But neither the republicans nor democrats really care about the nation, just their own political position.
      Until the politicians are more concerned about the nation than themselves this will be the continued situation we will face.
      Now the solution to this situation is to return fiscal conservatives either republicans or democrats to congress in November. People that care more about the nation rather than their own person political status. Hopefully these congress persons will realize that the US cannot continue to spend like there is not tomorrow because if they do soon there will be “no tomorrow”. Personally I don’t want to be there when there is “no tomorrow” for the United States which will come if the congress does not get its budget under control.

      1. Another tribal puppet. Google the President’s budget. And the $2 trillion PLUS deficit increase (tax cuts)
        a) How Rand Paul voted.
        b) How.Thomas Massie voted.
        c) How Justin Amash voted,
        Fiscal conservatism is bullshit for manipulating puppets-on-a-string.

        Always be pro-liberty, never anti-gummint
        Left – Right = Zero

    3. As I recall Trump said he’d pay off the National Debt (anything that large deserves to be capitalized) by renegotiating trade deals. Specifics were to come later. He also said he would finally bring about an end to crime. So we also have that to look forward to.

      1. As I recall

        I did say: “But his cult swallowed debt payoff, too. The same folks who’d defend him killing somebody in broad daylight, with witnesses”

        What you “recall” is infinitely more wacky than what he said. Because even more impossible.
        But thanks for proving my point.

    4. Funny, but the authors tenor seems to come from the ‘blame Bush’ handbook of the prior decade. Personally, I like to blame Nixon, but the problems of relying on Keynsian economics 24/7 as a method to underwrite socialism didn’t begin on his watch. That make us both wrong I guess, but what else is new?

      1. So you don;t understand Keynesian economics either ….

        How did the Bushies pay for Medicare Prescriptions .. and why would the Medicare Trust Fund otherwise have gone totally bankrupt a few years ago?

  2. Let me preface this by saying: the omnibus sucks. It’s awful. Borderline crime against humanity. Utterly ridiculous, and truly a bipartisan effort (though Rs deserve blame by the same margin as their majority).

    But…
    This article is disingenuous.

    So we had an OVERALL surplus in 2001 and now we’re $21t in debt, while in those 17 years feds took in $15t less than they spent – am I reading that right?
    That’s over $6t in interest then?
    Does that math add up correctly? Sincere question.

    Anyhow, the article strikes me as less than libertarian. Cursory and general criticism of spending, with all the scathing blame for (anticipated) growth of debt placed on tax cuts. Steve brushes over the idea of cutting spending only to dismiss it. He also dismisses the idea that cutting taxes could have any other result than reducing fed revenue. And of course, it’s Trump’s fault – but Obama “helped” (despite adding $9t, or 82% increase and 43% of current total, to the debt).
    Anyone else smell a statist?
    WTF Chap?
    What is this – Vox? HuffPo?

    1. “So we had an OVERALL surplus in 2001 and now we’re $21t in debt, while in those 17 years feds took in $15t less than they spent – am I reading that right?”

      There was a budget surplus in 2001, meaning that for that year the government received more money than it spent. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t publicly held debt. In fact the article points out that federal debt was 31% of GDP in 2001.

      We have $21T in debt (accumulated over time), not $21T in deficit for this fiscal year.

      1. Why take for granted the government’s assertion that there was, indeed, a surplus for fiscal year 2001?

        Why accord more credibility to government numbers than that which was accorded to the Soviet government regarding production and meeting its 5 year plans?

        1. There are too many independent groups watching over the watchers for that to carry much credibility.

          If they were cooking the books to that level, why wouldn’t they just memory hole the entire $21T so they wouldn’t have to face an angry electorate?

          1. 1. The independent groups do not have complete, hassle free, access to all of the numbers.

            2. The government does not have access to all of the numbers. It is one reason why government numbers should never be accorded much credibility. Government sucks at computing, counting, measuring, and quantifying.

            3. Human nature being what it is, those in power will cook books, and will memory hole whatever they perceive to be in their best interest.

            1. Plus who trust’s West Virginians with math?

              WV Debt Town

      2. There was no surplus. Total national debt has increased every single year since 1957. The 2001 budget was cash flow positive, but thatbis meaningless. The equivalent example would be to takr out a HELOC and draw more than your mortgage payment. Your mortgage budget is “in surplus” from a temporary cash flow basis.

        1. Indeed, I found the first few sentences of this article to be so ludicrous that honestly I don’t have any incentive to read anything further from an author that takes such a fanciful approach to the truth in it’s opening paragraph.

          Yes, Trump sucks hard on fiscal restraint and yes the Republican congress deserves much of the blame but pretending this is a new problem instead of a problem that’s been well over half a century in the making is incredible.

          What should be more concerning is the acceleration of debt accumulation, but again no one actually gives a fuck about this issue so it’s understandable that elected Representatives don’t give fucks about it. What people give fucks about are their special interests and transfer payments.

          This has been known as the most likely thing to kill our Republic since far, far before it’s foundation. Why anyone would be shocked at the natural death of our system continues to be a mystery, although I share in their outrage at it’s timing.

      3. There was no surplus in 2001. The debt would have decreased. It never did
        Welcome to the total mind control of Orwell;s Newspeak,

    2. “the article strikes me as less than libertarian.”

      You, by chance, didn’t happen to note the author, did you?

      1. I haven’t been here all that long, so I’m slowly getting to know the authors. Haven’t, until now, noted Chapman.
        Did have a nice little exchange with Shack. I’m impressed, though he pushed back at the time, that he seems to have listened to the points that were brought up.

      2. You, by chance, didn’t happen to note the author, did you?

        Umm, libertarians NEVER attack $1.3 trillion in new debt from a spending increase .. but defend MORE debt ($2 trillion plus) from tax cuts.

        Only goobers do that. Imbeciles who babble that stealing from their children is “keeping my own money”
        Kinda like the Tear Party retards who whine about the federal debt, but “Don’t touch my Social Security.”
        Discover libertarianism. It MAY not be too late for you.

    3. Glad to see the disgust, and you are correct: the article is a sophmoric deflection of some kind starting with Bush just as Al Gore chose starting with the 70s to be able to make his now infamous ‘hockey stick’ arguments [as weather being something other than a return to norms]. The purpose of an omnibus bill is to break regular order, which is to say a method to erase debate and oversight. It would be lovely to return to regular order, but first… the size of government must shrink, because oversight is now impossible in a 2 year term. We have arrived at a ‘chicken & the egg’ moment, haven’t we? Any chance of cutting spending without oversight? The ghost of Tip Oneill still holds the gavel…

      1. Any chance of cutting spending without oversight?

        By who? And how?
        What’s your plan, and how ill it elect a President and a majority in both houses of Congress?

  3. Well you can’t win office by promising to reduce the debt if there’s no debt so Republicans are just giving their future counterparts something to run on.

    1. It’s part of President Trump’s genius 4D chess. We can’t understand the inner workings of such a genius who is so smart he brags about not reading. Eat your heart out, Jefferson

      1. Technically Congress creates budget legislation but President did sign that disaster this year.

        Thanks to propaganda from the media, RINOs in Congress believe that propaganda and are scared to cut anything substantial like social security.

        We are on track to civil war or bankruptcy and then start over with less socialists in charge.

        1. The Donald could easily have vetoed the bill. A man of courage would have. It did not take any courage to sign the bill. Only losers would have signed the bill. Ergo, Donald is a loser.

          1. Yup. A man of courage according to YOU would have vetoed the bill.

            Funny, the man of courage always has to be a member of the Republican party who get eviscerated by the media for shutting down the government and many Americans blame the Republicans for it.

            I would much rather see Republicans and Libertarians swept into office in 2018 because everything is humming along and then cut some stuff in early 2019.

            Didn’t Trump proposed budget have a bunch of agency cuts that were disregarded by Congress?

            1. Look, I think it’s at least time for conservatives to admit that Trump and Republicans in general do not share their version of fiscal conservatism. A RINO, at this point, more accurately describes guys like Rand Paul and the rest of the Freedom Caucus.

        2. Technically Congress creates budget legislation but President did sign that disaster this year.

          ignores the President’s Budget, and french-piss Trump’s ass,

          Thanks to propaganda from the media, RINOs in Congress believe that propaganda and are scared to cut anything substantial like social security.

          And the wackos — like you — don’t know how to,

          then start over with less socialists in charge.

          Including your own party.

  4. Deficits matter to Chapman again? Oh, yeah, there’s a Republican in the White House again. Makes sense. Carry on

    1. Chapman appears to be a Keynesian.

      “If deficits are inevitable and possibly useful during recessions, they serve no good purpose in the ninth year of an expansion.”

      1. The new GOP Keynesian Big Deficit plan is just an example of the Blotard thinking ahead to the next recession.

        He is that gifted.

        1. 4D Keynesianism

          In reality, nobody in government can think ahead past the next election.

          1. In reality, most people cannot think beyond the last election.

            1. NextE Keynesianism.

        2. There will always be a next recession. Free market cycles thru booms and recessions.

          Thanks to the lefty media, neo-con W Bush and socialist Obama, the USA is on track to bankruptcy.

          1. W Bush was also a socialist and Obama was also a neocon.

            1. What?!? You mean politicians are all the same?

              1. The few times we haven’t been on the path to bankruptcy it wasn’t for a lack of government trying.

          2. You forgot to mention the contributions of Reagan and Democratic Congresses in 1980s.

            If history can be our guide, it’s the incessant drum beat of war that has always pushed our national debt.

            End the wars, end the debt.

            1. Part of ending that drumbeat is not whining like Stalinist snowflakes when a teacher or a radio talk show host or a professor or a negro athlete denigrates soldiers and all those who sign up to be Caesar’s cannon fodder.

              Military personnel ARE NOT HEROES.

              1. Military personnel ARE NOT HEROES.

                BLASPHEMY!

                /every conservative ever

              2. Dying for your freedom to destroy America using socialist tactics is more of a hero than you will ever be.

                Don’t worry. We will need all those heroes to forcibly deport all socialists from the USA and remove all politicians from office when the civil war kicks off.

                Then we can start the USA over using the Constitution and beginning with limited government.

              3. What justifies the term “negro”? You have a race bone in your throat?

            2. Defense spending absolutely can and should be cut like everything else, however your statement is bullshit as it relates to our current situation. Current levels of defense spending both as a share of GDP and as a share of total federal spending are very close to their historical modern lows going back 100 years. I’ll be more than happy to post all the charts, but everyone with a brain who really knows what’s going on already knows that I’m right.

              Our massive national debt bomb over the last decade and change is mostly because the welfare state has exploded. And yes, frauds like Paul Ryan and George W. Bush bear a significant amount of the responsibility for this.

              1. Please explain how my “statement is bullshit.”

                1. You need citations for your claims.

            3. This is fucking stupid. The debt is driven entirely by the welfare state. Zero out defense spending and we still go broke.

            4. Bunch of crap. This might be true in the past but the military and diplomacy take up a fraction of the federal budget. 22% to be exact when you include military, veterans benefits, and international affairs. Check your sources mate.

              Mandatory spending (aka social programs) eat up 66% of the federal government pie alone. Wars are expensive but they are not what is making this country go broke.

              1. Joe, neither Leo nor I are asserting that the welfare part of the equation is not humongous. It is.

                But so is the warfare part. Let’s not be so foolish as to ignore all sources of warfare spending which include all of the off budget monies and all of the surveillance state expenditures.

                1. Compared to entitlements warfare is a drop in the bucket rowing smaller by the second.

                  Cut them both by an equal percentage of their corresponding dollar figure until we stop going broke.

  5. Trump knows bankruptcy court. He’ll steer us on the right course into insolvency.

    1. To be fair, Trump has barely contributed to the national debt compared to W Bush and Obama. Trump knows that many Americans refuse to accept cuts, so bankruptcy it is. At least in bankruptcy, the hard decisions on what to cut are made for Congress.

      1. France reduced it’s debt by selling land. Puerto Rico is as American as the Panama Canal Zone used to be. How much do you think Venezuela would pay to buy Puerto Rico? /sarc

      2. “”To be fair, Trump has barely contributed to the national debt compared to W Bush and Obama.””

        He hasn’t had enough time.

      3. The legislation Trump signed has committed us to 2.3T in additional deficits over 10 years. >3T if the temporary cuts are made permanent and the current higher spending from the BPBA are maintained. Obama passed the stimulus. that was 800B in the middle of the worst recession since the great depression and when the fed was stuck at zero. The rest of the deficits resulted from the weak economy that he inherited.

        1. Too bad you’re comparing apples to oranges here.

        2. It’s 3.3 Trillion if ll are renewed.. And Reagan inherited a MUCH worse economy,

    2. His administration will end as all of his projects end: in Chapter 11, while he flies away on a helicopter.

      1. What gets me is how the dopey fly-over folks either are ignorant of, or do not care about, the Blotard’s (hat tip to PB) propensity to stiff his creditors.

        1. Yet businesses still do business with Donald Trump. Lefties never explain that.

          I guess dipshit lefties on the coasts never leave their bubbles even after Hillary got her ass kicked in election 2016.

          1. Umm, banks refuse to lend to Trump since about 2000. His entire current fortune was financed by Deutsche Bank, a know money launderer for Russia, because nobody else would finance him.. Putin owns his very soul. Righties ignore reality, Because Left – Right = Zero.

            1. I honestly used to kind of enjoy your posts when they did not go off the rails. Now you just sound like you got done watching MSNBC.

              Boring.

              1. Mindless tribal denial.

                (Fox viewers be uninformed of absolute facts)

          2. Not US banks.

    3. In the world of fiat currency he who defaults last wins.

  6. Trump will balance the budget with tariffs! Make America grate again!

    1. Since they’re primarily made out of steel or iron, through this tariff we can truly Make American Grates Again!

      1. Kudos. Well played sir, well played.

    2. I do like a good parmesan.

    3. So apparently there is a tax that needs to be cut more urgently than balancing the federal budget. Principle or principal?

    4. SATIRE! $20 trillion in tariffs, in only 8 years. And his cult of bobbleheads nods.

  7. The fake-ass libertarians here at Reason would have way more credibility if they hadn’t gone bonkers back when a nominal effort was made at dramatically scaling back Medicaid.

    But the truth is that these fake-ass libertarians at Reason love welfare and want a massive western European style welfare state.

    1. Welfare, social security, medicare, medicaid, and excessive defense spending are NOT the problem.

      Wait… those are the problem.

      1. Defense spending is not the problem.

        1. I dare say any item in the budget that is more than a half a Trillion dollars is part of the problem.

    2. Spoken like a true fake-ass libertarian.

    3. Yeah, that’s exactly what happened.

      1. It is indeed. I’m not going to bother linking to the Pete MacAdoodle Suderweigel thumb-sucking bitchfest at the time, because Ken Shultz has already done that many, many times.

    4. The fake-ass libertarians are goobers like you,

      Real libertarians would restore free-market OUTCOMES — which included universal treatment for the uninsured, regardless of income, provided by charity hospitals and financed by a web of private charities.

      So you’re full of shit on Medicaid — and on Reason’s position on that, Here’s the difference — pro-iberty vs anti-gummint.

      Pro-liberty transitions back to free-market outcomes, which are also the will of the people.
      Anti-gummint says FUCK WHAT THE PEOPLE WANT AND HAVE ALWAYS BEEN WILLING TO PAY FOR … JUST REPEAL IT ALL AFTER WE SEIZE POWER AND ABOLISH ELECTIONS.

      You authoritarians are a disgrace to individual liberty, Go away. Stay at Breitbart and Infowars.

      1. I wish someone would show up there at 8113 Sun Meadows Court in Fort Worth, Texas and put you out of your misery, Mary Stack.

        1. CONSERVATARD OPPOSES FREE-MARKET OUTCOMES!

          We libertarians oppose aggression, and the assholes who threaten it.

          P.S. I live at 1486 West River Street in Boise, Idaho.

          Thanks for proving me correct. (sneer)

  8. someone will pay a price for this irresponsibility

    Will they? I’m not sure anyone believes that anymore. The US will never default. It’ll simply print more money. As it’s been doing for the last 40 years. And yet the value of the dollar has been remarkably stable, both within and outside the US.

    With fiat currency, it’s all faith. With the faith train rolling, can anything really stop it?

    1. The purchasing power of a dollar bill has dropped precipitously in the last 40 years.

      Wages, adjusted for inflation, have been flat or have fallen behind.

      1. It has? Other than real estate and education, situations exacerbated by local and federal Government interference, where is the evidence of the purchasing power falling in terms of real dollars?

        1. I think you have a point. We would probably be experiencing significant deflation if not for land use regulations that drive up the price of residential, industrial, and commercial rents. Concern over the school budgets is the most common argument for limiting home construction. The teachers stole our future.

        2. The evidence is all around us. It abounds.

          If one is wed to government numbers and a baseless, fraudulent, phony, “everything is better today, and the future never looked brighter” type of Virginia Postrel optimism, then one is not prepared to open one’s eyes and examine reality.

          Do you even bother to digest the data and analysis of shadowstats.com?

          1. From the link I provided below, looking at the hours the average person worked then and now to buy some things:

            Manual treadmill: 1975 price was $89.99 (or 18.5 hours of work in 1975); 2013 price is $127.99 (or 6.5 hours of work today)

            ? adult athletic shoes: 1975 price was $9.95 (or 2.0 hours); 2013 price is $19.99 (or 1.0 hour)

            ? adult jeans:* 1975 price was $6.99 (or 1.4 hours); 2013 price is $19.99 (or 1.0 hour)

            ? television (19? color): 1975 price was $294.95 (or 60.6 hours); 2013 price is $129.99 (or 6.6 hours)

            ? 30? kitchen all-electric range/oven: 1975 price was $159.95 (or 32.8 hours); 2013 price is $369.99 (or 18.6 hours)

            ? frost-free refrigerator/freezer:** 1975 price was $319.95 [for 14.1 cubic feet] (or 65.7 hours); 2013 price is $404.99 [for 14.8 cubic feet] (or 20.4 hours)

            ? “standard size” all-electric washer/dryer combo: 1975 price was $329.90 (or 67.7 hours); 2013 price is $593.98 (or 29.9 hours)

            That doesn’t even take into consideration the multitude of gadgets that simply didn’t exist in 1975.

            1. I could cherry pick prices for the same items and they would be much higher than those set forth in your link. You know that.

              However, more than that, you are missing the pack of pachyderm in the parlor:

              (1) income taxes, including the cost of complying with income taxes, the payments made to accountants and lawyers and lobbyists and the compliance folk. Does your link account for the differences between 1975 and today with regard to the total costs of income tax compliance?

              (2) sales taxes. Does your link account for the fact that there are more sales taxes levied today that there were in 1975? Does your link account for the time that must be worked in order to pays for such taxes that did not exist in 1975?

              (3) Real estate taxes. Does your link provide any info regarding this matter?

              (4) Regulation. Does your link acknowledge that the regulatory burden is far more onerous today than it was in 1975? Again, compliance, accountants, consultants, lawyers, lobbyists et al. All of that money that must be devoted to the same was not even an obligation in 1975. Ipso fatso, purchasing power necessarily is lesser.

              (5) Health insurance premiums. Do you think that it takes less work time or percentage of one’s income to pay for health insurance premiums today than in 1975? Good luck proving that.

              1. I could cherry pick prices for the same items and they would be much higher than those set forth in your link. You know that.

                I don’t think Don has a nefarious agenda.

                Yes government takes a lot more from us than it did 40 years ago, and yes stuff would be cheaper without all the regulations.

                However most stuff costs less than it did in terms of hours worked, and is generally of better quality.

                I know it doesn’t fit the narrative, but it’s the truth.

            2. You are confusing growth in GDP per capita (which is likely entirely due to technological improvements) with changes in nominal GDP. Nominal GDP goes up when (1) the money supply increases, or (2) when the real economy grows. All of your price data is in nominal dollars, but your translation into hours makes it real dollars. So in real dollars (i.e., hours of work), we are much richer.

              The issue with increases in the money supply are different from this. If the government prints more money, everything becomes more expensive. But as long as labor wages increase, that is not a problem.

              When the government has debt, the issue is what cost is the debt? As debt doubled under Obama (and will do so again under Trump at current rates), the share of debt to GDP has increased. This was not noticeable since the interest the government pays on debt is so low. But low interest rates mean that other rates of return are driven down. That is why stock prices are so high, so that the return of owning the stock gets driven down to the return from owning bonds. But low interest rates are not the norm. When interest rates rise, then the debt servicing part of government spending will rise. At 20 trillion (20*10^12) debt, a 1% interest rate means that the government has 20*10^10 in debt service charges. Increase the interest rate to 5% and debt to 20*5*10^10, or a trillion dollars. That is a quarter of what the government currently spends and about 1/15 of the total GDP.

            3. Wait wait wait just a second…. you can buy a pair of new adult athletic shoes for $19.99??

              Just where the fuck is this exactly, and what brand are we talking about?

          2. Ouch! I’d hate to be linked to Postreli, but we can buy a lot more of almost everything today than, say, 30 years ago. That doesn’t diminish the odious impact of government, or mindlessly glorify technology (a la Postrel), but it’s the truth.

            1. Postrelism, that is.

        3. Nowhere but in sectors plundered by govt. You left out medicine, the worst case.

      2. Mike, citation needed.

        1. Okay, how about this list:

          (1) Income taxes;

          (2) Sales taxes;

          (3) Real estate taxes;

          (4) Health insurance premiums;

          (5) Health / Medical co-payments;

          (6) The federal debt;

          (7) Automobile insurance in states where it is compulsory;

          (8) Free range, grass fed, hormone free beef and chicken;

          (9) College tuition;

          (10) Entertainment in such areas as 50 yard line seats at an NFL game or big time college football game

          1. Thus, the amount of time or the percentage of one’s take home pay needed to finance a trip to the doctor’s office is far higher today than in 1964 or 1975.

            The amount of time worked or the percentage of one’s take home pay needed to finance health insurance premiums is far higher today than in 1964 or 1975.

            Prior to 1965, there was no Medicare and the average bloke could reach into his pocket and pay for the medical services provided.

            The amount of time worked or the percentage of one’s take home pay needed to finance four years of college tuition is far higher today than in 1975. FAR HIGHER.

            The amount of time worked or the percentage of one’s take home pay needed to finance a post graduate degree is far higher today than in 1975.

            1. Those are problems caused by government involvement. What’s your point?

    2. “”Will they? I’m not sure anyone believes that anymore. The US will never default. It’ll simply print more money. “”

      Right. I think the interest on the debt is a little over 400 Billion a year. Try to figure out how much money we would need to direct to paying the debt if we were serious about paying it down. I don’t think we apply anything to paying off the principle. Paying interest plus 1 Trillion would take a little over 20 years.

      Not gonna happen.

      1. Which assumes nothing else will be added to the debt in the 20 years.

        1. This entire thread is like watching chimpanzees trying to discuss nuclear physics.
          In sign language,

          No wonder America is dead.
          Left – Right = Zero

  9. Hope springs eternal

  10. I chuckle when I think of the H&R Republicans who thought “Wait till we get a GOP House, Senate, and POTUS. We will really cut spending then!”.

    1. I am chuckling at you thinking that they actually thought that spending would be cut. You know conservatards and GOP cock suckers and GOP cucks love them some big government.

      1. Conservatards and GOP cock suckers want to cut spending! Just not that spending! Or that!

        1. Lefties never want to cut any spending.

          Some fake Libertarians love the welfare state, so not many of us fiscal conservatives left.

          1. YOU’RE NO FISCAL CONSERVATIVE … YOU’RE A DEDICATED TEAT-SUCKER.

            loveconstitution1789|2.8.18 @ 3:08PM|#

            My retired father loves politics and we often discuss the nature of things.
            I cannot get him to openly discuss social security and medicare reform with cuts. He is just hoping to check out before our debt crushes the USA. Its selfish as shit.

            Alt-Right TROLL says more crushing debt is okay .. ONLY if it lines HIS pocket!
            loveconstitution (sic) Insults HIS OWN FATHER, “selfish as shit” … but DEFENDS his own sucking at the gummint teat! (OMG)

            HIS NON-STOP TROLLING claims that a multi-trillion debt increase (tax cut) is “giving my own money back ” …FROM WHERE TROLL?

            What kind of “fiscal conservative” DENIES federal debt is stealing from our future … from his own children?

            HE WOULD CUT HIS FATHER’S BENEFITS .. AND STEAL FROM HIS OWN KIDS … TO ENRICH HIMSELF, BECAUSE … HE’S “ENTITLED.”

            The NEW Entitlement Mentality. The Alt-Right, self-righteous goobers of today’s GOP.

            Left – Right = Zero

            1. Hihnfection, dead thread-fucking AGAIN…….piss off.

              1. (lol) AGAIN accuses me of “dead thread-fucking” … THIS TIME OVER TWO DAYS LATER THAN MiNE!

                Why do conservatard bots ALL think and talk the same ?

                piss off.

                You’ve been pissed ON, also again.
                SNEER

        2. Progs control both parties in DC. I don’t know what the conservatives think they are doing inside the GOP – you’d think they got tired of being screwed already, and by the most incompetent at that. They would do better trying to take over the democrat party – at least when they have the majority, they take the ball and run.

    2. They did cut spending compared to massive spending increases that lefties would assuredly added to the debt.

      Evidence: ObamaCare. One of the biggest debt increases outside of war spending.

      1. The data show the least irresponsibly spending president since 1980 was Clinton.

        1. Republicans cut spending bigly. Thank you for playing.

          1. No they didn’t – a 5.5% increase does not a cut make. How dare they index to anything less than double the rate of inflation [hrumpf]. Thanks for playing, again.

  11. Our leaders realize that eventually, someone will pay a price for this irresponsibility. And they know it won’t be them.

    “Don’t blame me. I didn’t read the bill.”

  12. Now would be the ideal time to close the fiscal gap. The economy is growing, corporations are profitable, and unemployment is low?factors that boost revenue. If deficits are inevitable and possibly useful during recessions, they serve no good purpose in the ninth year of an expansion. Surpluses would serve a good purpose, by reducing the debt burden and providing room to adapt policy to changing circumstances.

    The movement of the baby boom generation from the labor force to the retirement rolls means that outlays are fated to grow, thanks to Social Security and Medicare. Absent significant (and politically dangerous) cuts in benefits, revenues will have to grow just to keep up with obligations.

    Yes, libertarians are analytical enough to understand that the debt is bad. Most voters are not. They will think that the party in charge during economic expansion is a bunch of meanies for trying to balance the budget with decreased spending and/or increased taxes.

    Immigration could help us with this problem. Pass a law requiring any American born between 1945 and 1965 to live in Mexico in order to collect social security retirement benefits.

    1. Pass a law requiring any American born between 1945 and 1965 to live in Mexico in order to collect social security retirement benefits.

      *** meekly raises hand ***

      Does it *have* to be *Mexico*?

      1. Don’t worry, I’m not really that cruel. I just like turning a popular pro-immigration argument on its head.

        1. It has no head, it’s all ass.

      2. Make it mexifornia – and tell Trump his wall is being built in the wrong place.

    2. Most Americans can’t do math. To them, budgets and spending are qualitative parameters, where they simply “like” more of something. So get more!

      1. Who are these “most Americans” that are that dumb? Ask most people if they’d rather have $60,000 in credit card debt, $6000 in credit card debt, or be debt-free and able to pay off each credit card statement in full, month after month.

        Even if they’ve never personally experienced struggling with debt, I bet most of them would get why it’s not good. Anyone who loves debt (and is a debtor rather than a creditor) is either an idiot or a masochist.

        1. Sure, if you ask them they’ll tell you that. Take a look at their credit card statements and see what they really do.

        2. You left out the ethically impaired, who will choose as much credit card debt as they can get their hands on, as long as state law allows them to keep most of their stuff when they file for bankruptcy.

  13. As discussed many times before, unbalanced government budgets are not a bug in populist democracy but a feature. The only real questions are what specific distortions do deficits impose on the political and economic systems, and how long before the whole thing becomes unrecognizable.

    Meanwhile, Kardashians!

    1. I’m unclear why the modifier “populist” is required.

      1. Because it’s commonly popular for the government to rob from Peter to pay Paul as long as more people are Paul than Peter.

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  16. Gee, Steve, I wish you had told Dave and Charlie Koch about this. Because they lobbied their asses off in behalf of that terrible tax package. Sad!

  17. Deficits emerged under Reagan, and the Reaganites established the right-wing defense of debt. Ask David Stockman.

    1. We had debt before Reagan, so deficit spending existed before him.

      1. Yeah but Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter.
        https://tinyurl.com/y87j65rf

    2. “Deficits emerged under Reagan”

      That’s ‘change your moniker’ level stupid.

    3. Google the Grace Commission to learn how ignorant you are on spending cuts.

  18. Closer to bankruptcy?

    That sounds awesome! Because with bankruptcy you get a fresh start, right? Would it be a chapter 7 bankruptcy?

    I hope the country doesn’t have any student loans, because there is no way out of those.

  19. The US National Debt is an illusion. At the top of the financial pyramid, the Fed simply creates money out of their collective imaginations. When the US National Debt hits some future absurd number, watch the Federal Reserve absorb the nation’s debt onto their “books” then issue new imaginary dollars to the US Treasury by the shipload. Just wait and see ……

    1. Thank goodness no previous civilization in the history of the human race has ever thought of this ingenious idea of simply conjuring up endless amounts of fiat currency out of thin air!

      1. The FED always will try to de-value the debt by issuing currency and manipulating bond markets by buying assets of the government on their balance sheet. The problem of course is the dance with rampant inflation. In the mean time, massive misallocation of assets and moral hazard abound making markets all the more susceptible to the bubbles that the FED creates. Those idiots insist that inflation if good when the consumer only benefits from deflation.

        That is why the FED is an absolute departure from free market economics.

        Not only should it be abolished, its acolytes in political power should be jailed for the wealth destruction they have presided over as the FED has destroyed the savings of millions of people over the last 100 years.

      2. “…endless money out of thin air…” and “…absorb and reissue…”

        I think John Maynard Keynes, a confirmed gambler-holic, thought of it. He never wrote it anywhere, because someone would have locked him up for a psych hold.

        What a world, when it becomes doable, and more obviously inevitable day by day.

        1. And Obama was born in Kenya.

    2. “”When the US National Debt hits some future absurd number, watch the Federal Reserve absorb the nation’s debt onto their “books” then issue new imaginary dollars to the US Treasury by the shipload. Just wait and see …..””

      I’m totally expecting that it will be digital currency and they do away with cash.

  20. You say national bankruptcy I say libertarian moment.

    1. I wish we could get the collapse over with already. The suspense is killing me.

  21. A country that is a fiat issuer of its currency, in which 100% of its outstanding debt is denominated solely in that fiat currency (need i remind a person who writes in Reason of Article I Section 8 of the US Constitution?) cannot go bankrupt.

    A simple act of congress, signed by the president can pay off the entire debt issued by the US Government. The United States cannot go bankrupt. The United States is not like you or me. It can issue an unlimited amount of US Dollars. That’s why its called a fiat currency.

    The problem from the amount of debt issued and outstanding will be felt through inflation. When you start seeing inflation pick up substantially – going higher than the 1970’s and 1980-81 by a wide margin, you will know that problems are afoot.

  22. Does anyone believe that our now massively worse position financially will severely curtail what our Federal Government can do? I could probably find that possibility in my n-dimensional chess manual.

  23. Wow, Reason sounds like Bill Clinton.

    1. With or without the cigar?

    2. I agree. Clinton or worse. What the hell is this piece doing on Reason?

      1. What part confuses you? And how can you defend our atrocious debt?

        1. Listen, bud. All I did was link to the facts of Federal Spending. Then I made a numerical comparison between 100B per year vs 4,000B per year. Just because I called Trump’s 100b/yr “a drop in the bucket” does not mean I defend 20T of debt, or 4T/year spending, or .5T deficits. I do not. Get it: it was simply a comparison to put realism into this thread

          This piece is blaming a specific thing, the Trump tax cut, for putting the US near bankruptcy. Some people here are saying itThe tax cut is not doing that. Unstoppable balloon-explosion of Social Servics is doing it.

          Some dude below said “Expansion of debt is driven by a failure of will to tax for programs…” In REASON MAGAZINE. This is nuts. “Libertarians” who say ‘not enough taxing’ instead of ‘cut spending by 70%’ are Clintons, or worse than Clintons.

          1. Non-responsive. And now you lie about a COMMENT below, not a “piece” in Reason (which is what you had whined about..

            Pay attention, bud. It is BOTH the tax cut ($2.0 T) AND the spending ($1.3 T) that are exploding the deficit. If you deny that then you’re as phony a libertarians as Rand Paul, Justin Amash and Thomas Massie, Like those Tea Party phonies who piss and moan about the federal debt, but carry signs, “Don’t touch my Social Security.”

            You’re just fighting over whether the borrowing should be done for you instead of somebody else. Libertarians have never been known for an Entitlement Mentality.

            $100Billion per year for ten years is a tiny drop in the ocean

            Tell us how $100B X 10 = $3.3T

            Then … tell us what to do, that can elect a Congress to achieve it.

            Complaining about a problem, without posing a solution, is whining.
            -Theodore Roosevelt

  24. I’m always surprised when topics like this appear in Reason, and neither the author nor commenters post/link the facts of spending! Here ….

    U.S. Federal Government Spending
    Fiscal Year 2018
    In Effect October 1, 2017 – September 30, 2018

    69% Social Services $2819 Billion
    14% Defense of the Nation $595 Billion
    11% General Government $457 Billion
    06% Interest on the Debt $241 Billion

    Total spending: 4.1 Trillion Dollars

    http://mil14.com

    Trump’s adding a $100Billion per year for ten years is a tiny drop in the ocean. Expansion of debt is due to expansion of Social Services driven by demographics, and the ‘untouchability’ of their toxic engines.

    1. @John Donahue : I am always surprised that nobody points out that deficit-fueled rises in interest rates with balloon the cost of servicing the national debt. Expansion of debt is driven by a failure of will to tax for programs authorized.

      1. Why do you champion raising taxes over cutting spending?

      2. Why do you champion raising taxes over cutting spending?

        1. Why do you ignore the need to get elected, in your totalitarian paradise?

            1. (now laughing at your ignorance — on top of your authoritarian mentality)

                1. (Now pees my pants laughing because you FAIL to support your authoritarian mentality, now with ignorance that we elect governments … for over two centuries now)

                  You also fucked up on what he said!

                  1. @Michael Hihn

                    Let’s see, this is not a straw-man situation, because no one can see who/what you’ve constructed, who you are swinging at.

                    It’s not ad hominem, because you have not hit me as a target yet. I think you are aiming at me, but your dart gun is shooting blanks.

                    I know, it is Don Quixote! You are jousting with invisible windmills, fully confident everyone sees them. Well, you can get help with that psychosis at the same clinic that can help you with your lower leakage.

                    Obviously you are loaded up with hate and spoiling for a fight. Okay, get obvious. Spell it out. Point some fingers at facts. Nail up your list of grievances, specifically. At least connect the dots, or I’m winning by your disqualification.

                    1. I jammed it up your ass here.

                      PHONY libertarian pisses and moans about spending increasing the deficit … when the tax cut is MUCH worse. Plus, you FAILED to address the questions.

                      True or false:
                      1) The spending increases the debt $1.3 Trillion?
                      2) The tax cut increases the debt MORE ($2.0 Trillion)? Which you keep ignoring,
                      Like your fellow hypocrites Rand Paul, Justin Amash and Thomas Massie.

                      Which may be WHY you REPEATEDLY fucked up on what S Deemer said — when he called out your bulklshit, like I have. YOU are the ONLY one bitching about HALF the problem.

                      $2T in debt is okay with you WHINERS … because it will enrich YOU. (vomit)

                      You’re WAY out of your league. (sneer)

                    2. declined. You are beyond vile, personally. Seriously, what the hell is wrong with you, personally?

                    3. Call out a bullshitter and …..

                      True or false:
                      1) The spending increases the debt $1.3 Trillion?
                      2) The tax cut increases the debt MORE ($2.0 Trillion)? Which you keep ignoring,

                      declined.

                      (snort)

                      Seriously, what the hell is wrong with you, personally?

                      Intelligence and integrity are “wrong” to authoritarian whiners. (yawn)

                    4. You are beyond vile, personally

                      I’m not a bully and a coward.

  25. The tax cuts are like a down payment to get American industries competitive again. While the country languished under Obama, China was eating our lunch and stealing us blind. Much like the Parkland shooter, “everyone knew” but no one did anything.

    Well, it’s past time. Google China: “one belt one road” to get some insight into what the US will be up against in 20 years.

    Our national employment is around 65% of out 350 million residents.
    That equates to ~ 841 million Chinese that we expect to be eventually employed at 65% of their population. They are going to be jamming their goods down our throats by both hook and crook because they have no choice because a consumer based economy will demand freedom, and the Communist Party will not permit that, so they will have to keep expanding imports.

    We either get moving now or fact losing it all.

    1. Thanks for reminding us how wacky Trumpsters are. We must increase exports to employ more Americans, but nobody else may increase exports,

      Or …

      Our own workers can subsist on supplying only our consumers, but Chinese workers cannot subsist on their own consumers. Because Chinks are inferior,

      Does China have more consumers than we do?

  26. One solution would be to greatly increase the tax base of young workers. Since the natural birth rate in the US is below replacement, this tax-base growth can be accomplished with expanded immigration. Wait …

  27. define bankruptcy! We are already there! But, I don’t know that we have more debt than assets?!

  28. The last time the federal budget was even close to being balanced was when George W. Bush inherited a small surplus from Bill Clinton (even if the “surplus” was the result of accounting smoke and mirrors). Rather than make even a pretence of paying down the national debt, Bush said “It’s your money. You paid for it” en route to enacting tax cuts that were so obviously indefensible that Congress had to make most of them expire in 10 years in order to meet their own budget rules.

    Even that fig leaf of fiscal responsibility has been discarded under Trump.

    A pox on both houses, although at least the Democrats aren’t hypocrites like the current Republican leadership.

  29. “Asking for a line-item veto is a hollow gesture.”

    Not so. I recall seeing an article comparing the impact of a line item veto across the several States. It found that States with a line-item veto performed better financially than those without one.

    When a line-item veto is constrained to only delete spending clauses or their amounts, it seems obvious that a line-item veto can only decrease government spending. Isn’t that what both Reason and all libertarians want?

    1. Wanting and achieving are two different things,

      Only libtards and contards believe in governing by fantasy.

  30. The fix is simple: STOP ISSUING DEBT!!! The debt and the deficit are two separate issues. Fiat money is inferior to hard money, but “unbacked” fiat money is much less destructive to the economy and to personal liberty than the “debt-backed” fiat money we use today. We urgently need to transition to a debt-free currency before the national debt overwhelms the economy. See http://www.fixourmoney.com .

    1. The fix is simple

      Except for those goddamn elections!

    2. You have to stop the need for debt, which is the brooming of constitutional limits [mainly the 10th] by all 3 branches of government, and the excess growth of government it supports. There are so many things: HUD, Department of Education, etc. Most of this malfeasance is borne on the shoulders of congress, and their willing abandonment of meaningful oversight. Perhaps if we gave them term limits, they wouldn’t be so timid about using impeachment and we could get the ball rolling. Article 5 seems to look better all the time…

      1. Complaining about a problem, without posing a solution, is whining.
        -Theodore Roosevelt

  31. Between the Rethuglicans bombing the snot out of anything that moves, with their insatiable lust for war and war toys so that their Capitalist cronies can get richer than God Himself, and the bags of money that the Demoncraps give out to anyone who whines about how unfair life is to them — we are economically screwed. Neither side is going to back down one inch from pandering to and spread their legs for their voter base.

    The only way to cure this is to make people self-sufficient, that is, put people on their own land with their own house and teach them to be responsible for their own lives. The Amish have done this for centuries, and they don’t look terribly oppressed to me. But to do this – to have people who would not depend entirely on the government for everything they have – that would mean that they might just vote in a way that you don’t want them to.

    In a similar vein, it is time to stop the dependence of our economy on the production of war goodies. A good, stout self-defense of our nation is one thing, but we have been galavanting all over the world trying to impose our version of Empire on it. Selling “freedom” to people who neither want what we are selling nor particularly need it. What we need to do is to mind our own business and when it comes to are Armed Forces, be defensive, like a porcupine. No one messes with the porcupine, and for good reason.

  32. Sadly the game that appears to be in play in Washington these days is to maneuver to be in control when restructuring takes place. Judging by their financial behavior, the GOP has laid down and accepted bankruptcy as fact, but the funny thing is… they keep funding their opposition with tax dollars. Either that’s colossaly stupid, or we are on track for the appearance of a uniparty after the debt defaults pile up to ruin our ‘good faith and credit’ worldwide. Both sides will have so much dirt on each other regarding the death of the dollar, they may have no choice but to consolidate – as a method to screw third parties into oblivion.

  33. Just wondering. What part of being 21 trillion in debt that can’t be paid back doesn’t mean we are already bankrupt?

  34. The U.S. federal government does not face solvency risk, it faces harmful inflation risks – such as hyperinflation. A currency issuer cannot run out of money – so “bankrupt” is not the appropriate word to use describing the possible terrible effects of hyperinflation.

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