Mitch McConnell (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

Robert Reich: The yuge Republican lie about the deficit

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell lamented  “It’s disappointing, but it’s not a Republican problem.”


Robert Reich
March 17, 2019 9:00AM (UTC)
This originally appeared on Robert Reich's blog.

When asked about America’s soaring debt and deficits, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell lamented  “It’s disappointing, but it’s not a Republican problem,” and he blames Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Rubbish. It’s not social spending that’s causing the federal deficit to soar. It’s Republican tax cuts, especially on corporations and the wealthy.

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Look at the evidence. Of all 35 advanced economies, America’s spending on social programs like Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid is among the lowest, as you can see.

Also, Americans pay into Social Security and Medicare throughout their entire working lives.

The biggest reason America has the highest deficit relative to our total economy among all 35 advanced economies is because of a shortage of tax revenue. Of all these countries, we’re bringing in the fifth-lowest total revenue as a share of GDP.

And why is that? Mainly because of Republican tax cuts on corporations and the wealthy. The big Trump Republican tax cut is already breaking the bank. It will cost us 1.9 trillion dollars over the next decade. Let me repeat that: 1.9 trillion dollars.

Remember, Trump and Republicans in Congress claimed that their tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations would pay for themselves by boosting economic growth. It’s the same trickle-down fairy tale they’ve been telling for decades. But according to the Congressional Budget Office, they haven’t paid for themselves, and the deficit continues to balloon.

If there’s one area where America spends too much, it’s the military. Since taking office, Trump has increased military spending by more than $200 billion a year, straining the federal budget even further. The United States already spends more on the military than the next 10 nations combined.

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Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump, and other Republicans in Washington want to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. That’s been the Republican goal for decades. And they want to use the deficit to justify these cuts.

They also argue that we can’t afford a comprehensive healthcare system that the rest of the advanced world has figured out how to afford.

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Baloney. If the rich and corporations pay their fair share and we rein in defense spending, America can afford what we need.

Know the truth. Spread the truth about the deficit.


Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written 15 books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good." He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's also co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism."

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

All Salon Federal Deficit Medicaid Medicare News & Politics Republican Robert Reich Social Security Tax Cuts

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