OPINION: Americans pay a high price for the GOP’s fiscal irresponsibility

Common Dreams

The GOP is fiscally irresponsible in all sorts of ways.

Republicans are worse for the economy overall, worse for gross domestic product, worse for the budget deficit and national debt, worse for the trade deficit, worse for job growth, worse for wage increases, worse for inequality, worse for the stock market, and worse for much else.

No modern Republican president has ever reduced the deficit in any year with any budget. Every Republican president raised the federal budget deficit by overspending wildly on the military, the wealthy, and other wasteful things that don’t constructively add to our economy or society.

The only three modern presidents to reduce the budget deficit have been Bill Clinton (who eliminated it and created a surplus), Barack Obama, and Joe Biden, all Democrats.

About three-fourths of the entire national debt was accrued under Republican borrow-and-spend presidents.

Republicans run higher trade deficits than Democrats.

Unemployment is higher under Republican administrations

The stock market does worse under Republican administrations, on average.

Most recessions have begun under Republican administrations, as did the Great Depression.

None of the tax cuts for the rich and corporations that Republicans said would pay for themselves wound up paying for themselves. Instead, they made the wealthy wealthier. That’s also true about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which Republicans said would be quick, easy, and would pay for themselves. These wars wound up costing us trillions of dollars, which could have been spent in the civilian sector on infrastructure, education, healthcare, housing, jobs, libraries, and social services, in addition to causing many tragic deaths and injuries.

The minimum wage was started by Democrats (and criticized as socialism by Republicans) and has been increased over the years by Democrats. Higher minimum wages reduce poverty, increase economic growth, increase net jobs, decrease inequality, build a bigger Middle Class, increase our standard of living, and decrease suicide. Republicans consistently oppose any increases in the minimum wage, while some Republicans want to decrease or even eliminate it.

Republicans keep wasting our money on their ideological boondoggles, including fake stories with lying or nonexistent witnesses, that are typically unsuccessful and do nothing to help real people. For example, Republicans wasted a lot of time and money attempting to impeach President Biden for non-impeachable offenses, using a star witness who worked for Russia and was arrested by the FBI for lying.

Congressional Republicans voted to repeal or restrict the Affordable Care Act over 70 times. The Affordable Care Act, which is certainly imperfect, has saved millions of Americans money on their healthcare costs by providing lower-cost insurance. In all the time since the Affordable Care Act has been in effect, Republicans have not offered a single alternative. In the absence of the Affordable Care Act, we would have a market-based system where there are no cost controls, people can be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions, and child dependents are cut off when they turn 18. Economic studies show that universal healthcare would save billions of dollars and tens of thousands of lives every year.

Eight of the top 10 poorest states in America are Republican (and 95 percent of America’s poorest counties are Republican), and these states take more from the federal government than they give. The top 10 richest states are nearly all Democratic and give more to the country than they take. Republican states are more dependent on the federal government, which they criticize. In fact, over one-third of Florida’s budget comes from the federal government.

Further, the 10 poorest counties, as well as the 10 counties with the highest rate of poverty, are in Republican-led states. Red states also have the highest murder rates. Eight of the 10 least educated states are red. This is not a coincidence.

Republicans in Congress opposed anti-price gouging bills, voting against lowering the cost of gas and voting against lowering the cost of insulin, for example. Every House Republican voted against the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act, while happily accepting its benefits, sometimes bragging about the benefits coming into their jurisdiction. The Biden administration capped credit card late fees at $8, which is expected to save Americans about $10 billion per year. Republicans in Congress are seeking to block it.

Various Republicans in Congress want to cut Social Security and Medicare. Not because it isn’t working, but perhaps because it is. Some Republicans want to privatize it, creating another source of wealth for the already wealthy.

Social Security does exactly what it was intended to do, is efficient, has always run a surplus, has never missed a payment, and greatly reduces poverty, especially among the elderly. Republicans have also attacked Social Security and Medicare as socialism.

One thing holding Social Security back is that income earners do not pay any additional Social Security taxes beyond $168,600 per year in 2024 (it increases with inflation, unlike the minimum wage). This means that the only people who get a tax break are those earning above $168,600 per year, while Social Security loses out on that revenue. If we scrapped that tax cap, which Republicans oppose doing, Social Security would have more resources to expand its payments.

Republicans continue to push their trickle-down economics, which has not worked in the over 40 years it was tried, and very little of the wealth given to the already wealthy actually trickles down. Instead, the rich get much richer and economic inequality gets worse.

The GOP is fiscally irresponsible in all sorts of ways, while Americans pay the high price.

(Dan Brook is senior lecturer emeritus in the Department of Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences at San Jose State University. His most recent books are “Harboring Happiness,” “Sweet Nothings,” and “Eating the Earth.” Common Dreams is a reader-supported independent news outlet created in 1997 as a new media model. Its nonprofit newsroom covers the most important news stories of the moment. Common Dreams free online journalism keeps millions of readers well-informed, inspired, and engaged. Reprinted from Common Dreams. Visit Common Dreams at www.commondreams.org.)

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