The debt stops with Mitch

Friday, February 16, 2018

Remember the 1980s and all that growth? Yeah, but Reagan gave us deficits as far as the eye could see in exchange for them, right? That’s the story that stuck. The true story is something quite different. Reagan’s budgets only spent more than the Democrats’ budgets one year, when we were rebuilding the military. The Democrat-controlled Congress declared Reagan’s budgets dead on arrival and they passed their own. Had we passed Reagan’s budgets instead we would’ve had a balanced budget in 1989. That fact is so unknown that you may be learning it here for the first time.

The Democrats are no longer in charge. We have a Republican president and the Republicans control both houses of Congress. Yet we’re set to have deficits as far as the eye can see. Is it the Democrats’ fault? Hardly. Oh, you’ll get people like Mitch McConnell who will try to blame the Democrats. He’ll say that the 60-vote cloture rule in the Senate forces him to compromise with the Democrats and spend more on social programs than he’d like, but that’s a cop out.

The Republicans can change the 60-vote cloture rule any time they please. Without boring you with too much historic detail, cloture means ending debate on something. The Senate rules changed in 1806 to require three-fifths of the Senate to close debate on a bill. Nobody is really sure why the rule was changed and no Senate since has had the backbone to change it back. Only in limited circumstances is the dreaded cloture rule avoided.

Harry Reid and the Democrats changed the rule to exclude judicial nominations in 2013 when they were trying to get some of Obama’s federal judges seated. They excluded Supreme Court nominations in their rule change.

In 2017, Mitch McConnell and the Republicans changed the cloture rule to include Supreme Court nominees in order to get Neil Gorsuch confirmed. So don’t tell me the Senate can’t change the cloture rules. In fact, the founding fathers never envisioned anything other than a simple majority rule in the Senate or the House.

I suspect people like McConnell are really happy with the cloture rule. They’re RINOs, Republicans in Name Only, who secretly agree with a lot of the big government the Democrats are advocating for. They just don’t want to face their constituents after they’ve supported all that spending. The cloture rule gives them the cover they need. We need to force them to pull back the veil and stop hiding behind arcane Senate rules to balloon the national debt.

It’s funny, now that the Republicans are the ones running up the debt I’m getting e-mails from Republicans defending it. Oh, the debt doesn’t lead to inflation as was once thought, they now argue. I’m not worried about inflation. Here’s what worries me. Right now we’re paying around 9 or 10 cents on the dollar for interest on the debt. Some experts say that will go to 40 cents on the dollar by 2030. If that’s the case, we’re done.

Right now we’re fighting over 90 percent of the money. Imagine when we’re fighting over only 60 percent of the money. We’ll have to borrow huge amounts just to stay afloat and, before you know it, the interest payment has consumed the entire budget. It’s time to stop it.

Let’s face it. The Republicans are afraid to change the rule to a simple majority because they want the rule in place for when they’re in the minority again. At the rate they’re going, it’s going to happen sooner rather than later.

©Philip Carr “Phil” Valentine