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Why do Mark Sanford’s fellow Republicans make excuses for Trump’s deficit?

Asked by mazingerz88 (24684points) 1 month ago from iPhone

Here is Mark Sanford’s question and opinion in the NYT. What answer would you give him?


Why Do My Fellow Republicans Make Excuses for Trump’s Deficits?

He is driving the country to financial ruin. And his own party is letting it happen.

By Mark Sanford
Mr. Sanford is a former candidate for the 2020 Republican presidential nomination.
Feb. 18, 2020, 5:00 a.m.

People have a tragic flaw: Sometimes we want others to do the thinking for us. And across the ages promoters and con men have been more than willing to oblige. They invite us to indulge in the fantasy that a newfound father figure will fix it all, though it never works out that way.

This is the premise of a prescient book from 1841, “Extraordinary Delusions and the Madness of Crowds,” by the Scottish journalist Charles MacKay, which documents in extensive detail the moments when entire societies have set aside their own good judgment under the spell of a charlatan.

We are in one of those moments today.

President Trump’s abandonment of fiscal responsibility will prove disastrous — whether we think about it or not. His State of the Union address underscored his own thinking; it was long on pander and did not address our country’s bleak financial state.

Yet amazingly, conservatives whom I have long respected somehow look the other way.

What if it were President Barack Obama allowing the national debt to grow by a trillion dollars a year, despite the booming economy? What if other Republican presidents had abandoned the idea of trying to get to a balanced budget over the next 10 years? We would hear howls of protest. But now? Crickets.

This is a mistake. What is accumulating is deadly: Bad finances kill countries. There is no bigger issue.

And so while the president’s State of the Union was certainly a made-for-TV moment, with a proverbial “chicken for every conservative pot,” his time in office has left out the main ingredient of what conservatism used to be based on — how big is government, and are we paying for the government we own? He didn’t even mention our country’s looming debt and deficits in the speech. Not once.

Milton Friedman said years ago that the ultimate measure of government was what it spent. By this account the administration has been a gut-wrenching failure.

The administration’s neglect of our nation’s financial health long precedes the president’s address. In 2017, when I was still a member of the House Budget Committee, I clashed with Mick Mulvaney, who was then the acting budget director, over the administration’s optimistic budget assumptions.

I said, flat out, that the budget was a lie. Its numbers could never materialize because it was wishful thinking. And time proved me right.

Some of my conservative friends, when I criticize the president, respond that a President Sanders would be even worse for the deficit. True — but that makes it all the more important for those of us on the right to vigorously challenge the president’s reckless financial path. If the left has abandoned all sense of fiscal discipline, we have to be the ones to talk numbers that most seem to have somehow forgotten.

Here are three things to ponder for those of us who believe in math, markets and sustaining the American dream.

First, despite the president’s words, financially we have never been as vulnerable as a country since the Great Depression and World War II. We have never run deficits this big in peacetime. What happens to them when the economy cools?

Even today, with low interest rates, the fastest-growing spending item for the federal government is interest on the national debt. Over the next 10 years, we are projected to move from spending about $400 billion in interest a year to about $1 trillion. That could amount to over $7 trillion in interest payments.

Second, such persistent debt will have enormous consequences for national security — it always does. The historian Paul Kennedy, in his book “The Rise and Fall of Great Powers,” argues that military might without healthy budgets to back it up leads to a hollow force, good on paper but unprepared to fight. I agree. We should all be worried by the fact that we will soon be spending more on interest than on our military.

We should also worry that foreign ownership of our debt has risen to 40 percent. If foreign ownership of one’s debt were the road to military or economic strength, then Zimbabwe and Argentina would be world powers.

Finally, our growing debt makes the American dream more elusive, and in doing so weakens us all. A trillion-dollar deficit is nothing more than a deferred tax bill for $1 trillion. For a country that was in part founded on the notion of no taxation without representation, how does this pilfering of future generations’ wealth possibly make sense? Our children, and their children, will have fewer and fewer life choices and chances, thanks to our profligate spending.

Too many fellow conservatives, and the Republican Party at large, have chosen to ignore this mounting crisis out of fealty to President Trump. If Charles MacKay were alive today, he would add another chapter to his book, about today’s financial amnesia.

It’s a mistake that each one of us must work to correct, because it’s our future that hangs in the balance.


Mark Sanford is a former candidate for the 2020 Republican presidential nomination and a former Republican representative from South Carolina.

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8 Answers

Irukandji's avatar

Because the culture war has overcome the economy with respect to what drives voters to the polls and which candidates they support when they get there. And in any case, Trump’s populism has always included an economic theory at odds with the old Republican orthodoxy. So ignoring his growing of the deficit is just another consequence of the fact that Trump and his supporters have succeeded in taking over and transforming the party. But let’s not pretend that we’re in the land of the unprecedented here. It was Vice President Dick Cheney who said “Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter.” Fiscal discipline has been largely a rhetorical device for the majority of Republicans for decades, and the faction of the party that truly believes in it has been getting smaller and smaller.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I’d say it was a bipartisan debt ceiling deal the Dems signed off on, as well.
That being said, I think our government is being irresponsible.

Pelosi and Schumer said the deal “will enhance our national security and invest in middle class priorities that advance the health, financial security and well-being of the American people.”

They claimed credit for winning more than $100 billion worth of spending increases for domestic priorities since Trump took office.

cheebdragon's avatar

“President Barack Obama’s administration racked up nearly as much debt in eight years than in the entire 232-year history of the country before he took office. He entered with $10.6 trillion in total debt and left with the country owing $19.9 trillion. That’s an average tab of $1.16 trillion a year. Under President Donald Trump, the debt also has climbed. The $2.06 trillion increase works out to about $991 billion a year, or slightly less than the pace Obama had set.” CNBC

He’s a puppet, not a fucking miracle worker. It doesn’t matter who the president is, we will continue sinking.

Caravanfan's avatar

I’m more Hamiltonian in that I’m okay with a national debt. Alexander Hamilton thought that a national debt is vital to a country as it gives foreign powers an investment in the survival of our country. So I“m less bothered by the lack of a balanced budget, especially if it is spent on education, healthcare and the environment—I’m very Keyesian in that respect. I disagree with my Hayak believing colleagues in that particular respect. (I agree with them on trade issues)

gondwanalon's avatar

Likely for the same reason Democrats ignore the >$9 trillion of National Debt that Obama added.

SEKA's avatar

Sanford is an idiot. He lied to the state of SC while cheating on his wife. Never understood how he thought he’d get away with it; so in my opinion, his opinions are flawed before they are formed

JLeslie's avatar

Various reasons.

They make excuses because they think it will all work out in the end and the debt will go down.

Some have a complete lack of knowledge of the debt numbers over time and believe Trump is reducing the national deficit.

Some believe debt is ok, I heard this all the time when I was a teen and Reagan was President. I hated the national debt back then, still do now.

Mind you, you can be in debt and still have a balanced budget. It’s when you have to start printing money that you get into a precarious situation. Or, if you need to start raising taxes so high that society becomes uncomfortable. I don’t like other countries owning us, and I don’t like paying interest causing the cost of goods and services to be much more in the end than what you initially paid for them.

Some people care more about other issues and completely ignore the debt under a president that they believe is doing good, as in the moral good. I actually can understand this to some extent. I care deeply about civil rights, equal rights, and other social causes. I wouldn’t vote for someone who will give me $10 more in my pocket if he/she is going to take away gay marriage, destroy efforts for equal pay, take away a women’s right to have control of her body, etc. Some things are more important than money.

Many Trumpers feel as Christians (they literally say that to me, “As a Christian”) that he is doing God’s work. They see this in his work with Israel, work for pro-life, work in favor of capitalism, work to keep out socialism, and they excuse his vulgarity and personal moral imperfections as we are all imperfect and sinners.

They don’t pay attention to the debt, because they care more about the other stuff. Moreover, they don’t talk about the debt, because they don’t want to say one negative thing that might hurt his chances of being re-elected. Democrats are guilty of this too. Objectively some good has been done while Trump has been president, but Democrats don’t want to say it, because they believe so much bad is being done that the good is minuscule and meaningless and they don’t want anything positive out there that risks Trump being re-elected. Democrats also were willing to ignore the debt under Obama, blaming it on Bush (I blamed and still do give a lot of blame to Bush) because they felt Obama was doing for the greater good, like with healthcare. Again, I hate the deficit, I don’t care which President is in office.

It’s understandable how each side chooses to ignore or purposefully be silent regarding the debt, even if they fundamentally don’t like a high deficit considering how politics works today. In the end I think it hurts us as a society that each political side can’t have an open and objective conversation about what’s working well and what isn’t. I blame the media for some of this too, they should be reporting more objectively.

Irukandji's avatar

@SEKA Even an idiot can be right sometimes. If Sanford said that grass is green, would you assume it must be purple? If Trump said the sky was blue, would you assume it must be orange? It’s one thing to be suspicious of someone with a bad track record. It’s quite another to assume in advance that everything they say is flawed.

Sanford is calling Republicans hypocrites for complaining about deficits when Democrats rack them up while ignoring deficits created by Republicans. And he’s right that a lot of them are hypocrites (not that “politicians are hypocrites” is really breaking news). What he’s wrong about is his underlying assumption that most Republicans still think of deficits as a big deal. That’s a minority opinion in the party now, so his criticism really only strikes at the heart of a small handful of his targets.

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