National debt must be addressed

Many members of Congress who have opposed the tax reform approved by both houses of Congress insist their concern is increasing the national debt. It’s reassuring that lawmakers are worried about that – finally.

It is estimated that during the next decade, the tax cuts will increase the debt by about $1 trillion. That is $100 billion a year.

The national debt began its meteoric rise under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, as defense spending increased and taxes were cut. The debt was reined in under President Bill Clinton, when the economy was strong, defense spending dropped and taxes were raised for high earners. It stood at about $5.6 trillion when President George W. Bush took office in 2001 and was allowed to go up by about $5 trillion during his two terms, which saw two wars, plus a global war on terrorism, and tax cuts for all.

When President Barack Obama took the oath of office in 2009, the debt was about $10.6 trillion. On his watch, the debt shot up by about $9.3 trillion.

The debt now is more than $20.4 trillion.

At current spending rates, the debt is expected to go up by about $10 trillion during the next decade. Tax relief accounts for about one-tenth of that.

Yes, taxes play a role in debt growth, but spending plays a bigger one. It’s hypocritical for lawmakers who preach fiscal conservatism to approve these tax cuts, but it’s also hypocritical for lawmakers who won’t cut spending to say they’re suddenly worried about the national debt.

In our view, now is not the time for tax cuts that we know will add to the debt. Rather, we think now, when the stock market is strong and people are making more money than usual, is a good time to start getting the U.S.’s financial house in order and to start paying down our debt. That’s not to say we absolutely oppose targeted tax cuts to make the economy more competitive, but we would prefer it if loopholes were closed and if they didn’t add to the debt.