Although the Republicans for years raged against U.S. government deficits while Obama was President, it was always just political theater. The Republicans have never cared about government deficits, as their actions during the Trump administration have proven. They are fine with deficits if the money goes to tax cuts for the wealthy or spending on the military.
The Republicans have always agitated for higher military spending, much of which goes to civilian defense contractors who are, by no accident, major contributors to Republican campaign funds. Frequently the Republicans push bills for military equipment that even the military does not want and says is not needed, including Abrams tanks, littoral combat ships and F-35 fighter jets.
When it comes to domestic programs, Republicans yell about fraud and waste, but by far the greatest fraud and waste comes in military spending.
The dichotomy goes back at least as far as Ronald Reagan, with his completely unsubstantiated claims about a “welfare queen”, impliedly black, who allegedly was collecting benefits for four nonexistent deceased veteran husbands. None of it was true, and substantially more food stamp dollars go to whites than any other group.
During the Obama years, Republicans threatened to default on the U.S. debt by refusing to raise the debt ceiling to cover spending that Congress had already approved. President Obama was forced to agree to across-the-board spending cuts and spending caps that hampered the economy during the recession.
Earlier George W. Bush doubled the national debt with his tax cuts and his spending during the ill-advised Iraq war, but of course that was fine with Republicans because he was a Republican president. We now see the same with another Republican President.
Republican Senator Rand Paul stalled the government funding bill this week for several hours; he wanted budget caps reinstituted because budget spending would add to the U.S. deficit. “How come you were against President Obama’s deficits, and then how come you’re for Republican deficits?” Paul asked. “Isn’t that the very definition of intellectual dishonesty?” Yes, it is.
Of course, Senator Paul enthusiastically voted for the earlier Republican bill that cut taxes primarily for the wealthy and corporations by $1.5 trillion.
Just after the tax-cut bill passed in December, Republicans including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan were publicly agitating to cut programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Other Republicans running in close elections this coming fall seem to have postponed this approach — for now.
The Republicans have also deliberately underfunded the IRS for years, meaning that billions of dollars go uncollected, further increasing the U.S. deficit. One wonders whether their primary motive is making sure their friends and colleagues escape audits that would expose substantial amounts of taxes owing.
The December tax cuts and the just-passed budget bill will nearly double the federal deficit in 2019. Not surprisingly, the budget bill includes an additional $165 billion increase in military spending over two years, more than even the Trump administration had requested.
The Republicans are hypocrites when it comes to the deficit. The sooner those voting for Republicans realize this, the better off the country will be.