Politicians make promises while plodding the campaign trail.
President Trump made a lot of promises on his road to the White House, one of which was to erase the federal government budget deficit quickly. Here is the condensed version of what he said in 2016:
“It can be done. ... It will take place and it will go relatively quickly. ... If you have the right people, like, in the agencies and the various people that do the balancing ... you can cut the numbers by two pennies and three pennies and balance a budget quickly and have a stronger and better country.”
Trump’s plan for erasure has disappeared in the miasma of reality, and the $4.7-trillion budget proposal he released earlier this week was essentially DOA, in part because it makes no effort to erase any part of the budget deficit, but instead turns it into a huge albatross hanging around his administration’s figurative neck.
If you or President Trump put any stock in history, here are some facts to consider about campaign promises unkept:
The late President George H.W. Bush famously asked voters to “read my lips” while promising no new taxes. But soon after taking office, Bush was smacked upside the head with the fact that the government was running out of money, and taxes had to be raised. Bush’s presidency lasted one term.
Former President Bill Clinton made extravagant promises as a candidate, stumbled, then lost Congress to Republicans for his second term, essentially bringing to a grinding halt any semblance of sound policy-making.
But the fate of the Trump presidency is not the focus today. Instead, it is the fact that despite a promise to erase the budget deficit quickly, the deficit and national debt are soaring out of sight — and that is slamming Americans where it hurts, in the pocket.
The majority of Americans don’t seem to care, perhaps because most of us are so busy working to pay the bills. There is one bill we all need to consider — the federal government’s debt responsibility boils down to every man, woman and child in this country owing $67,000, and at some point that debt will have to be paid.
Government budget deficits increase the cost of borrowing for U.S. households and businesses. Mortgage rates go up as do other loans. The problem for most of us is that when the federal government sinks into debt, Congress raises the debt limit, a luxury most personal and business borrowers do not enjoy.
The Trump budget is predicated on a strong economy, which the country has been in the midst of for almost a decade, and the Trump administration has pinned its hopes on that strong run continuing.
It probably won’t. Many top economists see the country slipping into a recession within two years. The current, bitterly divided Congress is unlikely to approve economic stimulus legislation, which is what propelled the economy to strengthen under President Obama, a gift inherited by President Trump.
The national debt also has a dampening effect on wages. The Congressional Budget Office predicts the average income will fall by $5,000 a year if the national debt continues to grow. Is your family prepared to survive on less money each year? Think about it.
If the federal government continues on its current path, interest payments on the national debt will amount to the single largest government program within 30 years, according to fiscal experts.
Campaign promises are one thing, and it’s a safe bet candidates will continue to make those promises. Choosing your political champions carefully truly matters.