I say this a lot, but this is an important concept that absolutely must be said and repeated ad nauseam until the average person gets it. The reason the debt has gone up under Obama is NOT because the government is spending too much money.
Now, let me explain. This is not to say the government doesn’t waste money. It does. The above statement is not an acknowledgment that every dollar the government spends goes to the right places. However, the government isn’t spending much more than they did previously, especially when adjusted for inflation, than it did in 2001, when George W Bush and the Republican Congress were handed a $400 billion surplus. Government spending simply isn’t the problem. The problem is twofold. One, there have been too many cuts in areas that should be considered “investment,” whereas Republicans just call it spending. The other reason is that taxes are too low on those with the most money to pay. There is also a third reason; we have to pay too much interest on the debt the Republicans already ran up. In fact, the deficit for Fiscal Year 2015 was about $439 billion. (Source) Meanwhile, the cost of interest on the national debt was $402 billion. (Source) I think most would agree that a $37 billion deficit would not be seen as a problem.
The problem is not spending on government programs. No matter how much whining Republicans do about them, the two largest social programs, Social Security and Medicare, are completely paid for, and have never added a dime to the debt. In fact, both have surpluses that were specifically designed to take care of the Baby Boomer retirement surge, which will be going on for another 20-30 years. On the other hand, it’s difficult to claim that every bit of the “defense” budget is rational, but every time Democrats try to cut that budget item, Republicans restore it. See, while they whine and complain about infrastructure spending and claim it’s a Democratic jobs program, they use defense as a jobs program of their own. Watch them squeal when Democrats want to kill a weapons system that is completely pointless or does not work. They do so because they have made sure the weapons system is made in their Republican state and district and they can’t afford to lose the few good-paying jobs created by that crap.
It’s simply not possible to cut spending enough to completely eliminate the deficit; at some point, you also have to increase revenues. One great way to do that is to create jobs, including infrastructure building and public works jobs. I mean, it’s not like the country is finished and no longer needs to be maintained. One way President Obama has been able to reduce the deficit by about two-thirds is because he’s been able to manipulate the system to create more jobs and more taxpayers and because he raised taxes on the richest Americans. The massive spending cuts championed by the GOP actually make deficit reduction much more difficult. In fact, if Republicans were smarter, they would realize that the primary reason the 2013 tax increase was necessary was because of the massive cutting they did. It’s not like money spent by government goes into the ether. Like Defense spending, all government spending goes into someone’s pocket, and they pay taxes on that money. Not only that, but they spend their government tax money in the economy, which creates a need for more services, which means more businesses and more jobs, which means more tax revenue. Massive spending cuts actually have a depressing effect on jobs and a combination of more unemployed and fewer taxpayers. As should be obvious, fewer working people and taxpayers lead to higher budget deficits, not lower.
This should be common sense. The GOP “logic” is not unlike having a hard time paying your bills and thinking the best solution is to quit one of your jobs or ask the boss for a cut in pay. Look; even the tax money that goes to the inner city poor , like welfare and Food Stamps, eventually finds its way to local bodegas and other businesses and creates jobs and helps farmers and producers. Not only that, but, when SNAP is cut, food prices rise to make up the difference.
Make no mistake; Republicans know this. They just think all voters are stupid enough to not understand this, when it’s only their “base” who believes their bullshit. The overall goal of today’s Republican Party when they’re in charge is to “starve the beast,” but really, the only “beast” that starves are the poor. They’ll fight to the death for an aircraft that doesn’t fly or a weapons system that doesn’t work, but they think money that goes to feed poor people is a “waste.”
And no, folks, these are not “fiscal conservatives.” The Republican Party features 144 Congresspersons who actually voted to default on the country’s debt a few years ago. Why would you listen to anything about the economy from these people? These are not responsible people.
This country is in dire need of investment because that is how you create more jobs. It’s this simple; to reduce the deficit and pay down the debt, we need more revenue. No one wants to pay higher taxes, but here’s the catch; if you create more taxpayers, no one has to. One way to do that would be to get all of those people here illegally on the books and paying taxes. Can you say “amnesty”? Face it; 12 million more taxpayers would go an awful long way to reducing the deficit.
Of course, we know the GOP will never change their argument, so we have to remind people of this. The last time we had a debt problem was World War II. This is the first time the debt has been this high without building a massive war machine. And it’s the Republicans’ fault. Period. Don’t let them blame Democrats and Obama; they did it.