One area of common ground that I share with many conservatives is a desire for balanced budgets. Allowing for exceptional circumstances such as major wars, economic melt-downs, or natural disasters, the federal budget should always be balanced and debt avoided. Prior to Ronald Reagan’s term in office, that was the norm in American history. We were, in fact, the largest creditor nation in the world, but have since become the greatest debtor in world history. The problem is that successive congresses, mostly Republican, have sought to increase spending on the military and pet projects, while dramatically cutting revenue by giving tax cuts to the wealthy and to corporations, neither of which need them. The predictable (and predicted) result is a debt crisis that is steadily spiralling out of control.
New spending should be revenue-neutral or include increases to revenue – I agree with the right on that. But where Republicans have it wrong is in thinking they can cut taxes and increase defence spending, and pay for both with cuts to federal programmes and the revenue predicted from economic growth. The simple fact is, cutting taxes for the wealthy does not create jobs, and it does not create economic growth. What it creates is more wealth for the wealthy, period. It helps Wall Street investors, but it takes cash out of the real economy, strangling its growth and slowing job expansion. Since taxes on the rich were cut under Reagan (and again under the second Bush and under Trump) we have seen growth stagnate, poverty increase, and the middle class shrink by twenty per cent. Meanwhile, the debt has exploded, since the decrease revenue gave us no way to meet federal obligations.
The facts are in, and trickle-down economics does not work. We need to put upper-bracket taxes back where they were before Reagan’s disastrous cuts. Doing so would immediately end the deficits, and allow us to pay down the US debt, so that we are not burdening our children with a mountain of interest and destroying their futures.