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Credit where credit is due

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Wednesday, February 22, 2017 01:20 pm

This fascinating graph shows all the debt left to the country at the end of each president's term. Note only note how far ahead of everybody else FDR is (debt at 95 percent of the GDP) but how much easier it got for succeeding presidents to pile up the debt. It's not surprising President Obama is second on the list, nor that Truman is third, considering World War II was still going on when en entered office, and there was that little fling we had in Korea.Given my lifelong and so far futile commitment to a smaller, less expensive federal government, it's sort of masochistic to be dwelling on this. Or to speculate on how much Donald Trump will add to the debt (not ever supposing for a minute he might actually reduce it). He's done some things that fiscal conservatives should like, such as freezing federal spending and demanding that two regulations be cut for every new one that's installed. His tax reform plans sound promising. But he's also got a lot of plans he wants to implement, and they will be expensive. A lot will depend on how much the economy grows while he's in office. Under Obama growth was so anemic there wasn't enough new tax revenue coming in to offset the spending. Maybe under Trump there will be.

I'm forced to agree with Jazz Shaw that if fiscal conservatives fail this year, the movement is essentially dead and we might just as well all go home:

This means more of the "tough medicine" I’ve mentioned here before. Discretionary spending is simply not a deep enough well to draw from and our current needs for the military mean that defense spending can’t sustain serious reductions without dangerous global consequences. What does this mean? It means that Congress is going to have to tackle the question of changes to entitlement programs. Nobody wants to hear that and the president himself has made populist statements about not touching these programs. Sadly, that’s simply not within the realm of reality anymore.

Selling the public on this is going to be a daunting task and it may very well cost Republicans heavily in the midterm elections. But you need to ask yourself if this is indeed the hill worth dying on. If you truly believe in fiscal conservatism and grasp the danger the nation faces when our debts reach the point of crippling us then the answer is yes. The GOP has been given a remarkable gift by the voters in the form of control of both chambers of Congress and the White House. If we don’t do this now it’s simply not going to get done and we’re going to be leaving a ruined wasteland to the coming generations.

Yeah, "selling the public" on this. It took me the longest time to realize the public, despite complaining from time to time about "big government," really isn't on board with this. Trump's supporters didn't want government to cut back. They just wanted it to start letting them in on the action they thought everybody but them was getting.

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