Leading up to the 2016 presidential caucuses, Iowans cared about fiscal responsibility in Washington. A 2015 Des Moines Register Iowa Poll of likely caucus-goers found 94 percent of Republicans wanted candidates to "spend a lot of time" talking about the federal budget deficit.
Presumably they also expected winning candidates to act on the issue if elected.
Well, President Donald Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress certainly acted on federal spending, deficits and the national debt — by driving up all three.
The federal budget deficit, which is the annual amount by which government expenses exceed revenues, will climb to $1 trillion in 2020 with yawning deficits to follow in subsequent years, according to a new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The national debt, which is the accumulation of those annual deficits, will hit $25 trillion by 2027.
"At that level, debt held by the public would be the largest since 1947," according to the CBO. That followed the United States financing World War II.
Iowa voters should remember it every time Sen. Chuck Grassley, Rep. David Young or other members of our Washington delegation talk about their dedication to "fiscal responsibility."
That dedication simply does not exist. The campaign rhetoric is a bunch of malarkey. Their actions, namely supporting government-starving tax cuts, are ushering the country toward economic pain that may be felt for generations to come.
The CBO notes "laws enacted since June 2017," including the GOP-crafted tax cut in December and spending bills, "are estimated to make deficits $2.7 trillion larger than previously projected between 2018 and 2027, an effect that results from reducing revenues by $1.7 trillion (or 4 percent) and increasing outlays by $1.0 trillion (or 2 percent)."
In other words, that major tax cut the GOP insisted would pay for itself actually worsens, not improves, the federal government's economic future. This is hardly a surprise. A government, just like a household, faces repercussions when it significantly reduces its income and increases its spending.
Americans will feel these repercussions going forward. They will feel it when money that could be used for education, veterans or infrastructure is instead used to pay interest on debts; when the country's credit rating is jeopardized; when there is an economic downturn and the federal government has little money to pump it up; when taxes are raised to maintain federal programs people rely on or, worse, when taxes are not raised and the programs are cut.
Amid all this, Washington Republicans continue to offer up more ideas to spend more money, whether for a wall at the Mexican border or on federal subsidies to reimburse farmers who will be hurt by tariffs proposed by Trump.
These politicians don't talk about where the money for these ideas, or meeting basic federal responsibilities, is going to come from. They don't talk about how their anti-immigration sentiment and worker shortage damage companies and hinder economic growth, which can also reduce government revenue.
Instead they prattle on about balancing the federal budget. Perhaps this will be the year Iowa voters hold them accountable for their hypocrisy.