The national debt is 19 trillion dollars and counting, I’m sure you’ve heard that number more times than you can count. We had a recession almost ten years ago, and recessions trigger feelings of worry about government spending in the American people. Perhaps that is one of the many reasons that Donald Trump is the president, although if it is that’s pretty ironic.
Republicans love to talk about the debt, it’s probably one of the most popular talking points and punching bags if need be. But, let me throw a crazy notion at you: we shouldn’t be that worried about the national debt.
I know it sounds crazy, let me explain.
Scott Brown is an economist, and he may put your worries at ease. See, debt isn’t that much of a problem, as long as you can repay it and as long as people believe you can repay it. “Yes, the deficit is large. No, it is not a problem” says Brown. The United States, like many other nations, has a debt, but the United States, maybe not like other nations, has a very high credit rating and people trust that we will pay back what we are given.
There is no magic level that gets an economy in trouble, research arguing that view has been discredited.
Now let’s talk about the national debt in the context of the Federal budget. The White House budget office recently drafted a list of federally funded programs that President Donald Trump could either eliminate completely or trim. Most of them are l0ng time conservative targets like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Export-Import Bank. Most of these programs cost about $500 million dollars each, which may sound large but is really a tiny fraction of the federal budget which is $4 trillion. Cutting these programs won’t make any significant effect on the national debt if any and it won’t decrease federal spending by very much.
Other programs on this list include
The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, which gives grants to help reduce drug use and drug trafficking.
The National Endowment for the Arts, which gives funding for projects that exhibit artistic excellence.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is a non-profit that supports the advancement of public broadcasting. Public broadcasting is broadcasting as a form of service, not as entertainment.
The Appalachian Regional Commission is an independent agency that develops some of the poorest parts of the country.
The Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation is a non-profit that’s purpose is to advance urban development
It’s sad in a way because those programs aren’t causing the deficit, these programs don’t amount to a hill of beans
-Steve Bell, former staff director of the Senate Budget Committee
The Export-Import Bank, which is one of the programs listed for budget reduction, has been the target of a multi-million dollar campaign by the Koch brothers against them. The biggest recipient of the bank’s financial assistance is the airplane manufacturing giant Boeing, which Mr. Trump praised at one of their plants on Friday.
Whether or not these cuts are justified or will improve anything, the reality is that Mr. Trump has filled his White House with true fiscal conservatives. One of the most well known is Steven Miller, who worked for Jeff Sessions before he was attorney general.
These budget cuts are ironic to the extreme, considering that Mr. Trump signed an executive order to begin the construction of his biggest campaign promise: the U.S.-Mexico border wall. The construction of such a wall would surely cost billions upon billions of dollars in construction alone, not including maintaining and staffing the wall.
In addition to funding a border wall, being a Republican, Mr. Trump has pledged to fund even more our military. He said on Fox News last month that a strong military comes before a balanced budget.
A balanced budget is fine, I want a balanced budget eventually. But I want to have a strong military.
-President Donald Trump last month on Fox News
So which is it, Mr. Trump? Do you want a balanced budget or do you want a strong military? Are you willing to slash small federal programs rather than reigning in the true spenders? One thing is for sure: these budget cuts will not improve the state of our federal budget at all.