ECLECTIC RANT: GOP Solution for Deficits— Cut Social Safety Nets

Ralph E. Stone
Friday October 26, 2018 - 11:46:00 AM

Republicans claim that their $1.5 trillion tax overhaul last year had nothing to do with this, but experts estimate that the tax overhaul will result in about $1.45 trillion in net deficits over a decade. 

Now Trump wants to pass before the midterms another tax cut promising a 10% cut in taxes for the middle class without providing details even though the earlier tax overhaul did not achieve any of the things that Republicans promised it would. That is, it didn’t reduce deficits; it didn’t target the middle class; and it didn’t win goodwill with voters. Notice that on the campaign trail, Trump is not touting the GOP tax overhaul. 

Traditionally, deficits have been anathema to Republicans. Remember when then House Speaker Paul Ryan warned of the dangers of deficits, “The facts are very, very clear: The United States is heading toward a debt crisis. We face a crushing burden of debt which will take down our economy — which will lower our living standards.”  

And remember when congressional Republicans denounced President Barack Obama for the size of the national debt, which more than doubled during his tenure. During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump said he would pay off the national debt in eight years. 

Yet, the GOP tax “overall” made no attempt to eliminate the deficit, much less the debt. It provided for tax cuts, which means $1.5 trillion less revenue for the next decade. The Tax Policy Center concluded that federal government “revenue would fall by between $2.4 trillion and $2.5 trillion over the first 10 years and by about $3.4 trillion over the second decade.” And further concluded, "Those with the very highest incomes would receive the biggest tax cuts." 

Now to close the deficit caused by the tax overhaul, the Republicans are talking about cuts to safety nets to those forgotten by Trump and his enablers in Congress. House Republicans offered a 2019 budget proposal that would cut mandatory spending by $5.4 trillion over a decade, including $537 billion in cuts to Medicare and $1.5 trillion in cuts to Medicaid and other health programs. The budget also proposes $2.6 trillion in reductions to other mandatory spending programs, including welfare and other anti-poverty programs. 

The U.S. has the weakest safety net among the Western industrialized nations, devoting far fewer resources as a percentage of gross domestic product to welfare programs than do other wealthy countries. Cutting social safety nets will only widen the gap. 

Hopefully, those forgotten by Trump and the Republicans will remember on November 6, and vote for their economic self interests, rather than their prejudices.