Boasting of his supposed business wizardry, in 2016 Donald Trump told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, “I’m the king of debt. I love debt.” He didn't mention also being a connoisseur of bankruptcy.
Ah, debt, sweet as wine. Love it, don’t you?
You may not, in fact. However the affaire d'amour pulses and throbs this week in our Republican-controlled Congress.
If Congress follows through on Trump’s urgings — and the House seems quite inclined, the Republican tax plan would saddle the nation with $2.5 trillion in new debt over the next decade.
Hey, tea party people. You kept telling us additional debt was a bad thing.
Wasn’t it the original sin to borrow, under Barack Obama, to rescue the nation from the worst economic moment since the Depression? Yes it was. I heard you say so.
Now? It would appear you love debt. You want it in gobs, especially that debt means tax breaks for people who don’t need them.
Actually, this is not new, and not a news. It’s not even a change of heart.
Ronald Reagan’s budgets employed a “magic asterisk” that basically meant he – and we — would look the other way when things didn’t add up.
Dick Cheney famously said, “Deficits don’t matter.” He and George W. Bush turned a deaf ear to John McCain’s denunciations of funding two wars at once off the books.
When Reagan used his immense popularity to restructure the tax system, closing loopholes and reducing tax brackets, he could have insisted on harvesting some revenue to help curb the red ink that had been accumulating under his leadership.
Instead, the tax plan he signed was revenue-neutral.
The Republicans at the time showed they were more interested in trickle-down schemes than in paying for the government they had bought. That included the largest peacetime military buildup in the history of the world.
Now, “revenue neutral” seems the height of responsibility. What Trump and the House Republicans are doing is constructing a fiscal hole that will require future generations to account for the largesse of the moment.
Yes, the taxpayers of tomorrow would have to find revenue that this tax plan shut off by way of corporate tax cuts to enrich CEOs and stockholders.
They would have to find revenue lost when this tax plan abolished the alternative minimum tax (AMT) to benefit people like Trump. Oh, yes; the only tax return we’ve seen from Trump, from 2005, showed him paying $31 million via the AMT.
Ah, but he assured us that the tax changes he’s promoting wouldn’t help himself. The only way to know this would be to see his tax returns and if he’s been paying any tax at all those years since.
As it is, we can trust one thing only – that this is one more lie in a sandstorm of them.
The House tax bill stands to enrich the rich further, and for what? I’ll tell you what: to aid designs to strangle the federal government by artificial means.
Sen. Chuck Schumer has it right when he says that the ultimate objective of these tax plans is to make it harder to justify spending for things we need – infrastructure, health care, aid to the poorest of the poor.
The thing about those magic asterisks of the Reagan years: The bad math was wholly intentional. The deficits were the design. That red ink made it easier for so-called fiscal conservatives to say we couldn’t afford so much government.
For this Congress, that red ink would be sign that they could pass one, just one, policy. Something they have not done in the 10 months that Republicans have controlled the House, the Senate and the White House.
If this monstrosity passes, Trump who got where he is via the “debt and dodge” approach to business, would be there with pen in hand. To sign in red?
Yes, let’s run the United States just like he would – into bankruptcy.
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.