GOP tax cuts added hundreds of billions to the national debt. Now Mitch McConnell wants to slash entitlements
President Trump’s signature legislative accomplishment came just under a year ago when Congress passed a massive tax cut to benefit wealthy Americans. It was a coup for Republicans, who claimed corporations would pass on the money they were about to save to the working class. That didn’t quite happen. They also claimed the tax cut would pay for itself. That didn’t happen either, as was made clear this week when it was revealed that the federal budget deficit has ballooned $779 billion, a 17 percent increase from 2017. The hike is astonishing considering how well the economy is doing.
All signs point to the $1.5 trillion tax cut as the culprit, as well as increased military spending, but the administration is pinning the blame on unnamed “wasteful” expenditures. “President Trump prioritized making a significant investment in America’s military after years of reductions in military spending undermined our preparedness and national security,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. “Going forward, the president’s economic policies that have stimulated strong economic growth, combined with proposals to cut wasteful spending, will lead America toward a sustainable financial path.”
Prior to the tax bill’s passage in December 2017, Mnuchin claimed that the robust economy that would result from the cut would increase federal revenues. If it has, is hasn’t been nearly enough to offset the money the government in no longer taking in due to the tax cut. Nor has the sweeping round of tariffs Trump has imposed on foreign goods, which the president tried to argue in August would allow the United States to “start paying down” the national debt, which is now on track to surpass $1 trillion by the end of next year.
The rising debt is a tricky subject for the party in control of the government, which has long advocated for fiscal responsibility while railing against the rising national debt. Republicans were ultimately so blinded by their obsession with giving tax breaks to the wealthy, however, that, like Mnuchin, they convinced themselves the debt would not be affected. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) managed to vote for it despite a previous claim that he would not endorse a piece of tax legislation that would increase the deficit by even “one penny.”