The Charolette Observer BY BILLY MADDALON

The national debt has soared under President Trump.

The national debt has soared under President Trump.  AP

There’s a lot broken in Washington, D.C., but nothing is as broken as the way our nation’s finances are handled. I’m starting to suspect none of it’s an accident. Some accuse Republicans of magical thinking when it comes to the impact of tax cuts. I believe it’s a far more sinister enterprise, designed to starve government by taking advantage of our collective desire for a free lunch.

Last Monday, the White House sent a $4.8 trillion budget to Congress that proposes to maintain tax cuts that have gutted federal revenue and make up for it by cutting Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and just about every other part of our nation’s social safety net. But don’t worry, nothing will be cut. Yet.

Before the internet, people thought the cause of stupidity was the lack of access to information. Yeah, turns out it wasn’t that. Truth is, a huge majority of Americans support big government programs, while that same majority opposes higher taxes. For the number dumb among us, this is a problem. Republicans are taking advantage of it and Democrats often seem oblivious.

 Ever since Ronald Reagan was president, Republicans have claimed lower taxes would unleash job creators, investors and the markets where they play, paying for themselves by creating unprecedented economic prosperity. None of it turned out to be true. No fewer than six major tax cuts have taken place in subsequent years, all disproportionately benefiting the wealthy. And none of them have paid for themselves, resulting in an exploding deficit and unimaginable national debt.
The Trump tax cuts have given us steroidal trillion-dollar plus annual deficits, now totaling more than $23 trillion. And lest you think foreign governments are lending us most of this money, more than $6 trillion of our debt has been “borrowed” from Social Security, Medicare and other government programs, making taxpayers the largest owner of our own debt. This is a structural deficit, enacted into law, not forced by a recessionary plunge in revenue or surge in spending. Our prosperity has been financed on a credit card since 1980 and we’re now paying more than $574 billion a year on interest alone.
 In the last 30 years, we’ve fought three wars, bailed out just about every American institution and literally spent our way out of an awful recession, all while our taxes and government revenue were going down. By any measure, an unsustainable and sinister malpractice.

Don’t be fooled, Republicans won’t do anything about it, because what they are executing is a long-term strategy to “starve the beast” known as government. Although Republicans controlled the White House, the Senate and the House from 2017 to 2019, they didn’t seriously debate any substantial cuts to government programs that would balance the revenue lost by their series of massive tax cuts. That’s because they no longer see the need to do the politically unpopular work of cutting government programs. They just keep cutting taxes while government spending grows, knowing that eventually we’ll reach a fiscal tipping point and forcing a crisis that will lay the ground work for austerity for anything Republicans consider “socialism.”

It doesn’t take a mental speed skater to figure out what that means. Republicans didn’t call the trillion dollar Wall Street bailouts socialism. They don’t regard the ongoing $1 trillion in oil and gas subsidies socialism. They don’t consider the tens of billions in farmer bailouts socialist. But health care, wages, food for poor people? Now that’s some scary socialism!

The cliché, “You get what you pay for” might have been true at one time. Republicans now want you to believe “You get what you don’t pay for”….until you don’t.

Billy Maddalon is a contributing columnist.