Perhaps the best thing about the Trump presidency is that America can finally see what the Republican Party truly is. Dispelling the myth it is a conservative political party dedicated to small government, fiscal responsibility, and lower taxes, Trump is revealing it to be a lying, hypocritical gang of corrupt oligarchs using the American political system to enrich themselves.
After decades of pretending to care about deficits, Trump has finally declared what every rational observer has always known: they couldn't give a damn.
The Daily Beast published a story today detailing Trump's reaction to senior officials explaining to him exactly how bad the debt crisis is. According to the story, when they showed him charts and graphs showing a gigantic spike in the national debt in the coming years, Trump's only response was that "the debt would reach a critical mass only after his possible second term in office."
“Yeah, but I won’t be here,” the president said.
The story continued:
For those who have worked with Trump, it was par for the course. Several people close to the president, both within and outside his administration, confirmed that the national debt has never bothered him in a truly meaningful way, despite his public lip service. “I never once heard him talk about the debt,” one former senior White House official attested.
And there you have it: Republican fiscal policy in a nutshell. While in opposition, the Mitch McConnells and Paul Ryans of the party relentlessly hammer Democrats for irresponsible spending and refusing to deal with America's debt. As Paul Krugman notes:
In 2011, House Republicans, led by Paul Ryan, issued a report full of dire warnings about the dangers of budget deficits. “The United States is facing a crushing burden of debt,” it declared, warning of a looming fiscal crisis that might soon “capsize” the economy. Citing the horrors of big deficits, Republicans refused to raise the federal debt ceiling, threatening to create financial turmoil and effectively blackmailing President Barack Obama into cutting spending on domestic programs.
The federal deficit at that time was $1.09 trillion, and it was just after one of the worst depressions in US history. Obama managed to reduce that by almost half by the time his presidency was over, and Trump has now pushed it close to a trillion after only being in office for 23 months.
The Republican Party's response to the ballooning deficit has been to cut taxes for the ultra rich, then blame Democrats for wanting to spend money on health care and social security.
“It’s disappointing, but it’s not a Republican problem,” McConnell told Bloomberg News about the country's inability to deal with the debt in October.
“It’s a bipartisan problem: unwillingness to address the real drivers of the debt by doing anything to adjust those programs to the demographics of America in the future,” he concluded.
The truth is, Republicans have never cared about deficits. They view them as a tool by which they can punish working people and the poor. Deficits are absolutely fine as long as they get their tax cuts, then they can pass off the mess to Democrats when everything inevitably all falls apart, and lecture them on "entitlement spending".
President Obama inherited the mother of all debt crises, a direct product of Republican economics, and actually tried to do something about it. He was met with truly insane levels of obstructionism, and blocked at every turn from doing things proven to reduce debt-- like reducing health care costs, investing in industries that would create long term jobs, and regulating banks to prevent more economic crises.
Trump, at the very least, is open about what he wants to do: give his friends billions of dollars in tax cuts, spend more borrowed money on building pointless border walls, then wash his hands of the mess once it all goes wrong.
Correction: This article originally stated the debt was $21 trillion today. That number refers to the national debt. The article has been amended to reflect only the budget deficit numbers.