If you popped onto Twitter this morning, you almost certainly saw the news that the national debt under Trump has exploded by an additional $2 Trillion in two years. That's an astonishing 10% increase, a rate that should be unthinkable considering we are not in a world war or in a major economic crisis.
Naturally, the right has been almost entirely silent about this except to occasionally blame "both sides." This is because because they spent the last forty or so years screaming about how fiscally responsible they were while blowing up the debt and deficit every time they had power. Reagan increased the deficit and debt. H.W. Bush increased the deficit and the debt. W. Bush took it to unprecedented heights and sent the country into the worst financial collapse in a century. And every time, the Democrats had to clean up the mess. Clinton even balanced the budget and left a surplus while Obama hacked one trillion off of the deficit.
But Republicans are not interested in fiscal responsibility so the first thing they did when Trump stole the 2016 election was explode the deficit again after spending the entire eight years Obama was in office wailing and gnashing their teeth that the deficit and debt were going to destroy America. The left very much wants to drag them for this but I would say this is a waste of time. Republicans are professional hypocrites and this is a political strategy for them. They cannot be shamed into stopping it because it works.
Instead, we should focus our rage on the people that enable this shameless abuse of power: The mainstream media.
These are the people that watched Reagan and Bush implement "supply-side" economics and push our debt to over $2 Trillion by 1989 and then over $4 Trillion by 1993. And then treated Republicans in Congress railing against the debt and deficit they just created as Very Serious People.
They watched W. Bush and the GOP lard on almost $6 Trillion while a lot of the very same Republicans that had touted themselves as deficit hawks were still in Congress. Somehow, the press couldn't find the time or energy to ask about that.
They were dazzled by Paul Ryan, the "policy wonk" whose charts and budgets were so ludicrous that not a single reputable economist would take them seriously. Meanwhile, after the election of Obama, all the same Republicans that had cheerfully signed off on Bush slapping $6 Trillion on the nation's credit card were, once again, railing against the debt and deficit they just created and the press sagely nodded its collective head and treated them, once again, as Very Serious People.
And here we are, for the third time in my lifetime, watching the media shrug its collective shoulders as the GOP explodes the debt and deficit after years of insisting that they would do the exact opposite if only they were elected back into power. Clearly, we can expect Republicans to be simply aghast at the debt and deficit after Trump is replaced by a Democrat in 2021 and we can also expect the press to play along with this farce unless we hold them accountable.
The press has been conditioned by decades of right wing pressure to cower before conservative criticism but unrelenting pressure from the left is just as effective and does not require a multi-billion dollar media infrastructure to support it. The constant dragging of media figures for carrying water for Republicans has been eroding their willingness to turn a blind eye to their bullshit. Chris Cillizza regularly complains that he's going to be swarmed on social media for saying something he knows is stupid. Maggie Haberman sort of but not quite swore off of Twitter because no one would let her forget she was cozying up to fascists and white nationalists. Chuck Todd is no longer allowing climate change deniers on his show in part because of the outrage on social media whenever he had on an obvious liar.
We must continue to demand better from the press and the second they start to treat the coming "fiscally conservative" GOP as anything other than blatantly dishonest, we must rake them over the coals until they stop. Republicans are liars and charlatans but that only works as long as the press uncritically reports what they say. When every headline about the GOP looks like this...
Republicans claim, without evidence, Florida seats being stolen as top Democrat pushes back
GOP leader Kevin McCarthy suggests without evidence migrant caravan 'could be' politically motivated
Trump says without evidence that Dems are behind ‘caravan’
...instead of the press acting like stenographers, the Republican Party will lose all credibility outside of the Fox News bubble. Without the national lie we tell ourselves that the GOP is an ordinary political party, the party dies. That's when we can finally deal with the debt and deficit for real instead of the fake hysteria Republicans whip up every 4-8 years.
Trump has at least two more years left in office and he's going to do a lot of damage before he's removed. What happens afterwards is up to us. Republicans will try to use the debt they created to demand cuts to spending for average Americans. The press won't call them out unless we force them to. If we don't, we start the cycle all over again and it's not clear how much longer we can survive the GOP's economic sabotage.