Debt and Deficits

Republican Deficit Hypocrisy Will Make America's Debt Problems Much Harder To Solve 

A new report shows federal budget deficits pushing past $1 trillion for the next decade.


It is obvious at this point that Republicans, on the whole, do not care about debt or deficits—at least not in any substantive sense. That's not just an economic problem. It's a political problem that is increasing the risk of a debt crisis in the future. 

Although the GOP spent the better part of Barack Obama's presidency complaining bitterly about the trillion-dollar budget gaps the country ran during his first term, and President Trump promised on the campaign trail to eliminate all federal debt, deficits have increased even faster than expected under his watch, and total federal debt has risen accordingly. And that, in turn, is likely to have long-term consequences for both the economy and for the broader politics of debt and deficits. 

You can see the nation's trajectory spelled out in painstaking detail in the Congressional Budget Office's annual budget outlook, released yesterday. 

Not only does it show that the trillion-dollar deficits that followed the financial crisis have returned, it projects that deficits of that size are expected to be a fixture throughout the coming decade. Indeed, the next decade's deficits are now expected to be $160 billion higher, all together, than was projected as recently as last August. We are entering an era of permanent trillion-dollar deficits. 

By 2030, CBO projects the deficit—the annual gap between spending and revenues—will reach $1.7 trillion, which is roughly the size of the entire federal budget in 1999. Rising debt and deficits, the budget office predicts, will coincide with slowing economic growth, dropping from 2.2 percent this year to 1.5 percent a decade from now. 

The federal government will be borrowing more, and the economy will be expanding at a slower pace. It may not be an immediate economic crisis, but we are spending and borrowing ourselves into stagnancy and decline. 

The GOP's what-me-worry acquiescence to this eventuality has been driven mostly by political considerations: In the absence of a crisis, lawmakers, regardless of party, have little incentive to close the budget gap, because doing so requires some combination of raising taxes and cutting spending, neither of which are particularly popular. The biggest drivers of long-term debt are old-age entitlements, Medicare and Social Security, that benefit seniors, many of whom are reliable Republican voters. Trump ran against cutting those entitlements, and although his rhetoric has wavered slightly in recent weeks, he has not pressed the issue, and Republicans in Congress don't exactly seem eager to tackle it either.

Nor does Trump appear to worry much about what happens down the road. When Trump advisers warned in 2018 about the possibility of a future deficit crisis, Trump reportedly shrugged it off, saying, "Yeah, but I won't be here." Absent some forcing event, there is little reason to expect any significant departure from the party's current trajectory of do-nothingism. 

One possible forcing event would be the election of a Democratic president, which would almost certainly see the GOP return to its Obama-era complaints about sky-high debt and deficits. Yet if that were to happen, it's easy to imagine that Democrats would simply dismiss these complaints as hypocritical, viewing them not as efforts to enforce needed fiscal restraint but as attempts to check the opposite party's agenda. Republicans, in other words, aren't just piling on debt now, while they are in power. They aren't just exacerbating the likelihood of long-term economic stagnation. By demonstrating how little they care about fiscal restraint, they are creating a political environment that makes it even more likely that Democrats will proceed with a deficit denialist agenda of their own. 

You can already see evidence of this in the Democratic primary race, where candidates with pricey domestic policy agendas have consistently sat atop the polls. And you can see it in the liberal intelligentsia's embrace of simplistic deficits-don't-matter economic theories, and complaints about how the CBO's emphasis on basic budget math hampers the progressive agenda. The GOP's rank deficit hypocrisy is fueling the factions of liberalism that view concerns about fiscal soundness as barriers to political and policy success. 

In the end, that faction may not gain power. And if it does, Republicans might find other avenues to block their agenda. Even still, with every passing day that the Trump-era GOP proves that Obama-era Republicans only cared about high debt and deficits as a means of criticizing a Democratic president, rather than as a substantive policy goal, the likelihood increases that Democrats will take the GOP's current behavior as license to pursue an even more expansive and expensive agenda of their own. Republicans under Trump haven't just carelessly let deficits rise and debt pile up, they have made it even harder to find a politically possible way of righting the nation's fiscal trajectory. 

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  1. Did Reason just say something unflattering about Republicans? They’re Marxist! They voted for Hillary! Reason sucks! Praise Trump and the Republican Party or die in a fire! Aaaauuuughhh!

    1. And to think, you could have been reading a book instead of writing that.

      1. Your what hurts?

        1. Eyes. From all the reading.

          1. Gouge them out. I’d be happy to lend you a fork.

            1. Nah, I’m not you, I actually use them. For reading.

              1. Two people get your joke, one of them thinks it’s funny, and nobody else cares. Find something productive to do instead of shitting on every comment of mine like an adolescent in need of attention.

                1. Suggesting you read instead of posting here isn’t constructive?

                  No, you’re right. It isn’t. There’s no chance you’ll actually use the time to read. Mea culpa.

                  1. Says the guy who is compelled to post a reply to every one of my posts. Grow the fuck up.

                    1. Another page.

                    2. Get room you two.

                    3. Fuck you’re creepy, Sarcasmic.

                  2. Pariahs got to pariah. Why he defends Amash so much. Easier to disguise a laziness of thought by just yelling no and blaming everyone else.

    2. In this thread, Chipper gets run off like a dog again because he’s stupid and hates that I remind him of it lololol

    3. You should really stop whining about people calling Reason out for carrying progressive water

      1. I’m not going to bother to explain the difference between being critical and having an agenda.

        1. That’s a page of reading you could have been doing instead of that whining.

        2. I’m not going to bother to explain the difference between being critical and having an agenda”

          Probably because you don’t know and don’t care.

        3. Reason’s agenda is antithetical to liberty.
          They’re not going to sway Leftists to prioritize liberty, and they’re driving everyone else away.
          Conservatives can be convinced on things like criminal justice reform, drugs, and sex work. They’re already prone to deregulation, smaller government, and less spending.
          Leftists, if they come to agree on any single issue, will isolate it from the rest of their philosophy… which will remain totalitarian.
          But they’re okay with crony corporatocracy, as that is the inevitable form of socialism, so Reason will pimp their collectivist bullshit no matter what.
          Neofeudalism for the Ls!

    4. They spent a lot of time on both sides while only using one line to address entitlements (vast majority of the growth) and no lines on baseline budgeting. They are less serious than the GOP since Reason spends more time attacking politics than the actual real drivers of debt.

    5. President Trump today announced a budget that will begin to reduce the National Debt, to which obama contributed more than 8 Trillion dollars:

  2. The GOP’s rank deficit hypocrisy is fueling the factions of liberalism that view concerns about fiscal soundness as barriers to political and policy success.

    I didn’t mean to hurt you baby it is just with that son of a bitch Johnson in the White House things got out of hand.

    The GOP is absolutely worthless on the deficit. There is no denying that. But Suderman being a dishonest hack, is not content with making an honest point no matter how valid. No, Suderman can’t write a single article without lying. It is also true that the Democrats manage to be even worse about spending and the debt. Rather than telling that truth. Suderman pretends that Republicans made them do it somehow.

    What makes it hard to deal with the deficit is that both parties like to spend other people’s money. That is all there is to it.

    1. Everyone wants to cut government spending. Just not the part that benefits them or someone they care about.

      1. Cutting someone else’s benefits is almost as fun as spending someone else’s money.

        1. Isn’t that what you do every time you cash a paycheck?

          1. Remember yesterday when you stupidly got trolled by Trump, then cried and ran?

            I do lololol

          2. No. Regardless, you should get a paycheck before commenting on anyone else’s there tiger.

          3. Holy fucking shit. Chipper thinks paychecks are a handout and not a trade for services. Chipper is just straight dumb.

        2. But it isn’t a great strategy for winning elections.

          1. That’s at least a page worth of time wasted right there.

    2. The GOP is only good on guns. That’s the only thing left to cheer them on about.

      1. I love how you completely failed to find anything that in any way showed Trump claiming to be the peace president yesterday, then cried and ran.

        “you’re a meanie poo poo head Tulpa!!!” then you fled lololol

        1. You are still butthurt over that? Take your lumps and move on.

          1. Ahahahaha I love how you cried and fled, and now you’re doing IT AGAIN AHAAHHAAHAHAHAJ

    3. Being part of a cult must be tough.

    4. Democrats are better at reducing deficits than Republicans, when it comes to presidents, at least. That isn’t even up for debate.

      1. Deficits are a red herring.
        Obama “reduced the deficit” and doubled the debt

        1. That and many Democrat Presidents have GOP controlled Congress during much of their terms of office.

      2. Poor jeff thinks the power of the purse resides in the executive. Jeff is a fucking idiot.

      3. Only when Republicans hold their feet to the fire. You know, cause the House holds the powers of the purse.

    5. John, we all know the Reason stylebook dictates one of two options. Republicans Did It, or Both Sides.

      You can hardly fault Suderman for keeping his crayons within the lines. Iconoclasm is not in him.

    6. President Trump today announced a budget that will begin to reduce the National Debt, to which obama contributed more than 8 Trillion dollars:

  3. It is obvious at this point that Republicans, on the whole, do not care about debt or deficits—at least not in any substantive sense.

    Hypocrisy being the tribute vice pays to virtue, when they lie, we know they’re lying, and they know that we know that they’re lying, is it really hypocrisy any more? Republicans are frequently accused of hypocrisy for violating the principles they espouse whereas it’s hard to accuse Democrats of hypocrisy because they don’t have any principles to violate, but at some point you have to face the fact that the Republicans don’t actually have any principles either. They’re not hypocrites, they’re just liars.

  4. I feel this article is slightly disingenuous. Of course Republicans hate deficits. The problem is that they love killing their religious enemies much MUCH more than they hate deficits. They cannot touch the entitlement programs that account for 80% of our debt and remain in power to continue their crusades against the Muslims. Therefore, all they can do is run up more debt until Allah is annihilated.

    1. And then Jesus can finally return.

      1. Hey remember yesterday when you stupidly thought Trump making fun of the Nobel committee for giving out peace prizes to people who don’t advance peace meant he thougjt he was thd peace president?

        Yeah, you don’t get to love that one down lololo

      2. Billy – “Boohoo, GOP are religious bigots”
        Chipper Commiserates by being a religious bigot

        Oh you crazy, hypocritical lefties…

      3. And chipper demonstrates his bigotry too. Dumb and a bigot. You’ll never be Kirkland, but cant fault you for trying.

    2. Killing Allah has very little to do with the government’s spending problem. Grandma not wanting to pay her medical bills is a far greater concern.

      Not saying Defense/GWOT isn’t a big fat hog slurping away at the trough, because they are (623 billion), but Medicare/Medicaid (971 billion), SS (982 billion), and other mandatory (570 billion) and non-mandatory spending (639 billion) are the primary mouths on the government tit. Interest on the debt will be too (currently 325 billion), if interest rates ever approach historical norms again. Imagine if the 3-ish percent interest in 2018, went back up to the 6s around the 2000s, never mind Carter-era.

      All figures from the CBO graph here:

    3. Give the current filibuster rules they never had a chance in hell at cutting entitlements anyway. So you can’t say they wouldn’t do something when attempting to do that thing is a complete non-starter in the first place. And who do we have to blame for the current filibuster rules? The Democrats.

      1. Hey now, reason spent one while sentence on entitlements in their blame. I’d have to re read to see if they bring up filibuster rules… doubt it

  5. “By 2030, CBO projects the deficit—the annual gap between spending and revenues—will reach $1.7 trillion, which is roughly the size of the entire federal budget in 1999”

    Seems like the problem is DC and entrenched entitlement spending.
    So, looks like we’re left with the choice of somehow dealing with that as is… or going with people/party that run only on creating more entrenched entitlements.
    Reason will take the latter, because groupthink

    1. The problem is bigger than DC. Remember that those people in DC, whether politician, aides, or lobbyist represent people in the heart land. So its not DC that wants farm subsidies, its agribusinesses. It not DC that wants new defense spending, it the aerospace industries, ship building, or vehicle manufacturing industries. DC doesn’t want tariffs, some industries want them. Is it DC that wants a border wall? DC is not a separate group, they are the group that channels our wants.

      1. I want DC to be depopulated.
        Let’s see them get on that

      2. You’re blaming the 30% deficit on 15% of the spending. good luck with that math.

  6. “lawmakers, regardless of party, have little incentive to close the budget gap, because doing so requires some combination of raising taxes and cutting spending, neither of which are particularly popular.”

    Thanks for the above. The reality is we are well past being able to correct the deficit with spending cuts or taxes alone. I think that many people understand this fact, but can not get politicians to listen.

    1. The massive debt can’t be paid has to be rolled the Fed will keep buying and keep interest rates artificially low. There is no “productivity” solution for this level of debt…it can only be forgiven when the interest starts to crowd out the goodies programs and defense. Get used to it..Cheney in some ways was right (and it kills me to write that). Kill the Fed..and you kill govt running deficits..

      1. Rolling over federal debt is old news, and has been going on for almost the entire history of the USA. The federal debt was paid off entirely – and a true surplus was achieved under President Andrew Jackson. Two years after that we experienced a deep economic depression.

        The Fed certainly influences interest rates, but does not directly control them (apart from the Fed funds rate). When the world significantly loses confidence in our economy and/or government, interest rates will likely be a real problem, meaning harmful inflation will occur. Of course, the most extreme examples of harmful inflations are hyperinflations. It’s worth noting that high levels of government debt have never, by themselves, caused hyperinflations. There have always been other severe exogenous events – like losing a war, a collapse in production, regime change, or ceding monetary sovereignty via a pegged currency or foreign denominated debt.

        Economic productivity, as you point out, is important – and for now, perhaps it’s a key reason interest rates remain low. I can imagine a cascade of events if Warren is president that end up as effectively a regime change. Banning fracking, her wealth taxes, corporate surtaxes, slower expensing, regulatory over-reach (such as overturning right-to-work laws), and so on – all her “plans” will decimate the economy. Then, I fear, the world will demand much higher rates from Treasury bills, notes, and bonds. Her revenue projections from all her tax policies are a fantasy and would fall far, far short of what she wants us to believe.

        Setting aside the risk of a Warren presidency, what do you think about Japan’s much higher government debt-to-GDP ratio? Their economy has indeed been struggling for more than two decades, but no hyperinflation (as so many predicted) has occurred.

    2. Reason is wrong. Addressing entitlements is what is required. But reason keeps asking to import more people to make the problem worse.

  7. So let me get this straight. Because the Republican party has, at some points in the past, stood for limited government and fiscal restraint– while the Democratic party has never stood for either– it is now the Republican party that’s to blame for Washington’s complete and utter lack of limited government and fiscal restraint. But the Democrats get a pass, because– children will be children?

    I’ve been reading Reason for thirty years. These last few, every day I find a post that makes me think, “this is the dumbest/most hypocritical/most disingenuous/least libertarian shit I have ever read posted here.”

    And then the next day, it happens again.

    1. It’s Suderman. He wears dishonesty and hypocrisy like a king’s royal robes.

    2. “Republican Deficit Hypocrisy Will Make America’s Debt Problems Much Harder To Solve
      A new report shows federal budget deficits pushing past $1 trillion for the next decade.”
      “House Democrats’ $760 Billion Infrastructure Proposal Has Lots of Funding Proposals, Few Proposed Funding Sources
      The “Moving Forward Framework” includes some sensible reforms alongside expensive, dubious policy proposals.”

      So transparent

      1. Bonus:

        “USDA’s Rollback of School Lunch Reforms Won’t Accomplish Anything
        This is just the latest petty development in what is an ugly, mostly partisan dance.”
        “Worst-Case ‘Climate Porn’ Is Counterproductive to Addressing Real Climate Change
        “Stop using the worst-case scenario for climate warming as the most likely outcome””

  8. Kennedy with Walter Heller’s moronic keynesian deficit spending followed by Johnson’s war/welfare was the precipitating factors…Nixon however has a special place in hell for shutting down the gold window (as much as Paul Volker should be credited for crushing inflation..he had this blind spot regarding gold..all the statists did)..kicking this insanity off and as long as the dollar is the reserve currency and we can offload our inflation on other countries via deficit trading (and allowing them to peg to our currency), deficits have limited “pain” that people can understand. Yes we have run up huge debt in the “regulated” industries like healthcare, education and of course govt itself..bubbles, wars, and most kids over the age of 20 living with their parents in history. All good..politicans can keep buying votes, distorting markets and digging a bigger hole. At this point the only solution is a true debt jubilee where the bond and debt holders get hosed..but that won’t occur. I am curious when the annual interest that has to be paid on the debt starts to crowd out the entitlement goodies and defense…watch how the interest groups pull out their knives and see the battle begin…

    Gold is money…everything else is credit…shut down the Fed, shut down about 90% of the federal govt…and let liberty ring..the only solution.

    1. I agree with alot of that just not the part about ending it.

    2. We live in a credit based economy. If you want the economy to grow over time, then in the aggregate, so will credit.

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  10. Now do Bernie

    To see a real libertarian viewpoint on this issue go here:

    But all day every day Orange Man Bad

  11. For his next article…

    Gop doesnt believe in state budget balancing because they dont reduce pensions or retiree costs. Please dont look at the court rulings on their attempts.

  12. I think everyone knew Trump was no fiscal conservative.

    1. Wouldnt have mattered if he was. Look at the appropriation vote totals. He is being impeached for spending too slowly… 5 days too slowly

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