Before Congress departed for Christmas, they pulled another Scrooge on America’s future. Rather than deal with an impending government shutdown, they saddled the nation with more debt by passing a 2,313 page, spending spree to the jingle of $1.4 trillion. It was yet another bipartisan spending party that will linger much longer than any protracted Democratic impeachment karaoke.
Despite all their differences, President Trump and Congress do agree on one issue: Increased federal spending. Trump supporters must realize this only entrenches the D.C. swamp that The Donald must pull the plug on. According to The Wall Street Journal, the debate – provided you could call it that – was limited to 90 minutes the morning before the vote.
Congress can certainly wax when needed.
This bipartisan merrymaking had Republicans getting more for defense that included the newly branched Space Force, while Democrats received more funding for social welfare. One favorite roasted piece of pork was the $25 million for “gun violence research.”
An organization that calls itself the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget said the bill would add five percent of gross domestic product (GDP) to the national debt by 2029, bringing the debt-to-GDP ratio to 97 percent, which would be disastrous.
Research by Harvard economists: “For the past 200 years, once a country exceeded 90 percent debt/GDP ratio, economic growth slowed by nearly two percent.”
While economic growth has been nourishing the Treasury, spending has bred even faster. Some estimates have spending accruing at four times the rate of inflation.
On page 643 is “Title IV — Revenue Provisions” where Congress readjusts the Individual Retirement Account (IRA). People who inherit an IRA are now required to deplete it within ten years. If you don’t outlive your IRA, no longer will distributions be allowed to span a lifetime by heirs. Forget tax-free growth while maintaining your tax bracket. The two positives are that the age limit on a traditional IRA will be eliminated, and mandatory distributions will begin at age 72, not 70½, which given today’s average lifespan is a no-brainer.
Favorable tax treatment for private investments are no longer sacrosanct. Rewriting the law is now part of the landscape as a future Congress will decide it “unconscionable that gains go untaxed.” The great betrayal will come when all IRAs are taxed like any other investment.
Congress giveth and Congress taketh away.
As our population ages, spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will increase. Neither party shows any inclination to do anything about those programs, except expand them.
Raising taxes are a nonstarter.
Congress has never had a revenue problem. Rather, their problem is spending. And neither party cares as “need” is a bottomless pit.
Much of government spending is inefficient and induces more spending. For politicians, spending is the swell of re-election. If an incumbent promises to spend less, their opponent will demean them for not “bringing home the bacon.” Provided a challenger runs on “a spend less platform,” the incumbent will ridicule them for not caring about __ (fill in your favorite social justice crusade).
Sadly, nothing logical will ever be done until the debt is so large that the economy collapses under its weight.
Barring that, no politician will argue for efficiency or less spending.
Congress must return to the deliberative body the Founders envisioned. As a representative democracy, it is naïve to believe that Congress will change on its own.
Politicians have too much at stake in the business of re-election.
The solution is to eliminate all pork through a line-item veto. This was last passed by President Clinton, but ruled in conflict with the Constitution’s Presentment Clause, and killed by the Supreme Court.
Rather, the line-item veto must become a Constitutional amendment.
Forty-three states have such a law.
This will force Congress to submit coherent budgets and be subjected to a line-item veto by the president. It would then take a two-thirds majority to override the veto. Moreover, this would leave the president equally accountable for unrestrained spending.
Asking Congress to spend less is like asking a three-year-old to substitute broccoli for ice cream.
No matter which party is in charge, without a change in course – economic chaos awaits.
Does anyone except those who grow the broccoli even care?