National Debt: Lower It The Left Way

Rational people have always believed that except in extraordinary circumstances, taxes must cover spending. We lost our way when President Reagan and the supply-siders made taxes a dirty word, and introduced voodoo economics. Things worsened as Reagan’s disciples, like the light-weight President Bush II, increased the policy of borrowing-and-spending, to where debt is out of control.

When President Eisenhower served (1953-61), the debt increased just 8.2% in 8 years, from 266 to 288 billion. During the Kennedy and Johnson terms (1961-69), it rose only 22.5%, from 288 to 353 billion. In the Nixon-Ford years (1969-77), national debt climbed 97%, from 353 to 698 billion. Democratic President Carter (1977-81) slowed the growth rate to 43%, from 698 to 997 billion.

Things really changed when President Reagan (1981-89) and his supply-side Republicans arrived. Reagan was able to fool voters into believing the budget could be balanced through simultaneous tax cuts and spending increases, but as he gave taxes away, the debt shot up a whopping 186%, from 997 billion to 2.8 trillion.

Republican President Bush I next increased the debt another 57%, from 2.8 to 4.4 trillion, before Democrat President Bill Clinton, allowed only a more modest rise of 32%, from 4.4 to 5.8 trillion.

The country then suffered through another major dose of borrow-and-spend, as Bush II gave away prescription drugs, and started two wars, without raising any taxes. Debt went up a staggering 105%, as Bush II more than doubled it, from 5.8 to 11.9 trillion.

While national debt was modestly increased by Democrats Kennedy-Johnson (22.5%), Carter (43%), and Clinton (32%), the amount added by the latter-day Republicans is unsustainable, as Nixon-Ford brought it up 97%, movie star Reagan used his credit card to add 186%, and Bush II borrowed to increase it by 105%.

While deficit spending has been the norm for a long time, and both parties deserve some blame, it is time to recognize that the budget-balancing Republicans of my father’s generation left the building with Eisenhower, long ago. The time for tax breaks is over. We have to attack the debt the right way, which is to say, we have to do it the left’s way, by electing fiscal Democrats.

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