I’ve been in a few offices of Congressional Republicans that have devoted a screen to a running ticker of the national debt. You can find similar charts all over the internet of small government advocacy organizations.
GOP Leaders like House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have said reforming (i.e. cutting) taxes is a priority by the end of the year. The problem they keep running into is how to accomplish one of their major campaign promises without setting fire to a major issue with many Republican fiscal hawks: the deficit.
As a fiscal conservative who enjoys keeping more of my own money, there’s a lot to like in the GOP layout, like personal and corporate tax rate cuts. The plan would reduce the number of brackets, increase some exemptions, reduce the Death Tax, and close some loopholes (though many of those have yet to be specified.)
Here’s the problem. In an effort to call this tax plan “revenue neutral”, the administration claims these tax cuts will immediately spur the economy to the tune of 6% growth. I’m a firm believer that tax cuts do increase growth, especially in the long run, but planning for 6% growth is simply absurd. Current growth is about 3%. In 2016, growth was 1.5% and we haven’t topped 4% growth since the dot com boom in 2000.
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates the tax cuts would reduce revenue by roughly $5.8 trillion over the 10-year budget window. They estimate loopholes and growth would bring in about $3.6 trillion in that window, adding over $2 billion to the federal deficit and national debt. That debt ticker? It’s already at $20 trillion.
The issue is worth debate and tax cuts combined with revenue offsets (budget cuts) is a good thing. But when Republicans would find every microphone they could during the Obama administration to scream and shout about an out-of-control national debt, to turn a blind eye to adding another $2 trillion would be nothing short of hypocrisy.
Patrick Pfingsten is an award-winning journalist, political consultant, and PR expert. You can find him on Twitter @pfingsten1 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.