On February 19, 2009, CNBC’s Rick Santelli stood on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and called for a “tea party” to counter the big spending policies of the Obama administration.
Out of the Great Recession of 2007 came the TARP bailouts and Obama’s $1 trillion stimulus package that even Obama’s White House admitted failed to rescue the economy. Recessions automatically trigger budget deficits, but these policies went further to deepen the red ink. Combined with the passage of Obamacare, the federal deficit went from $161 billion in 2007 to exceeding $1 trillion for the first time by 2009.
The grassroots movement known as the Tea Party was born and it led to Republicans gaining 63 House Seats, seven Senate seats, six gubernatorial seats, and flipping twenty state legislatures in the 2010 midterm elections. The deficit-obsessed Republicans forced a Democratic-controlled Senate to concede on spending and it led to the Budget Control Act of 2011, which would cap discretionary spending through 2021 in a process known as sequestration. This ended up being the crown jewel of the Tea Party Congress.
Nearly a decade later, President Trump announced last Monday that the White House and congressional leaders reached a two-year budget deal. Despite the fact that our country is $22 trillion in debt, the plan raises the debt ceiling by $320 billion over two years, offsets less than a quarter of those costs, and opens the door to nearly $2 trillion in discretionary spending increases over the next decade. This comes after multiple Republican-controlled Congresses conceded on raising the debt ceiling in 2013, 2015, and busted spending caps by $296 billion just last year in an omnibus bill—after which President Trump said he would “never sign a bill like this again.”
With this new budget deal, Congress has once again abdicated its fiscal responsibilities. If Republicans allow it go through, they will have ceded any and all credibility on fiscal responsibility. The President should not allow this. He should demand more concessions from Congress on spending. He should do as congressional Republicans did in 2011 and leverage a debt ceiling increase for meaningful budgetary reforms. They must do it now while a Republican remains in the White House.
Make no mistake about it, a debt crisis is coming. The trustees of Social Security announced back in April that, for the first time since 1982, the program’s costs will exceed the revenue it takes in by 2020. In 2035, just 16 years from now, the program will be insufficient to meet its obligations. The prospects for Medicare are even worse. By 2026, its hospital insurance fund is set to become insolvent according to the trustees.
CBO’s Long-Term Budget Outlook also shows that, between 2017 and 2047, Social Security and Medicare will run a cash deficit of $82 trillion and the interest costs of those deficits will add $23 trillion more. The rest of the budget had been projected to run a $4 trillion surplus over this period. The debt is currently 78% of GDP and set to become 100% by 2028.
The Tea Party swept into Washington nine years ago demanding fiscal restraint, balanced budgets, and government accountability. Today, budget deficits are again reaching $1 trillion, the Trump Administration is projected to increase government spending more than Obama, Republicans are raising the debt limit, and Obamacare remains on the books.
Americans know that a debt crisis is coming and simply do not care. It says a lot that Donald Trump was able to win a Republican Primary running specifically against conservative efforts to reign in entitlement spending. While petty fights between Trump and the “squad” take the top headlines, Congress continually mortgages the future of the next generation.
There is still time to avert a crisis. Congress has known for a while what must be done. But it is simply a fact that the increasingly populist Republican base no longer cares about spending and deficits, any attempts to rein in government would be savaged by Democrats and their allies in the media, and Republicans are cowards for not standing up for the welfare of my generation.
Americans voted themselves into a debt crisis. At this point, it’s probably time to start preparing for it.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.