Why Don’t Republicans Fret About the Debt Anymore?

By Annie Lowrey

ISIS, tax cuts, public trust. Race, immigration, the Empire State Building. Civil-service reform, North Korea, manufacturing. President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech addressed a broad sweep of issues. But one central economic topic went notably missing: the country’s growing annual deficits and its increasing burden of debt.

The omission was a sign of the remarkable volte-face the Republican Party has taken on the country’s fiscal situation in just a few years. Republicans spent the early years of the recovery obsessed with the national debt, castigating Democrats for their supposed irresponsibility, warning about the dangers of the almighty bond market, and helping to construct complicated mechanisms to slash federal outlays. They are now spending what might very well be the late years of the recovery ignoring it, having passed a tax plan that will add more to the debt than President Obama’s stimulus package did and having forgotten their once-urgent plans to make cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

It might be nothing more than politics. Shaming the other guy for doing something, and then doing it oneself as soon as one gets into power: It is cynical, it is hypocritical, it is Washington. But it also reflects a profound change in policymakers’ understanding of deficits and debt. Maybe it is not that Republicans should be more obsessed with the debt now. Maybe it is that nobody in Washington should have been so obsessed with the deficit back then.

Back then, in this case, means 2010 through 2014, give or take. Congress passed a trillion-dollar stimulus to help wrest the country back from free-fall, and the economy entered a sluggish recovery from the pain of the recession. Shortly after, Republicans started whipping up concern over the country’s fiscal situation, even as many economists from across the political spectrum argued …read more

Via:: The Atlantic


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