Making America Great

“Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter.” – Dick Cheney

I keep reminding myself to not write about politics. With 24-hour cable news and social media inundating us with politics, there’s no point in adding more to the pile. But, jeeez…

News flash: the federal deficit increased by 77% in the past year. A favorite conservative trope has been that Barack Obama increased the federal debt more than all previous presidents combined. Well, okay, but in fact the deficit went down each year Obama was in office. (You do know the difference between debt and deficit, don’t you?)

You ain’t seen nothing yet.

Military, Social Security and interest on the debt led the way in increased spending. (Yes, interest rates are rising.) The $1.5 trillion tax cut passed in 2017 resulted in less tax money coming in – corporate tax revenue down 23%. This in spite of the firmly-held Republican belief that lower taxes will increase revenues.

The vaunted tariffs have given the U.S. its greatest trade deficit ever. When adjusted for inflation it’s the largest since 2008 – the last year a Republican resided in the White House.

The GOP knows what’s needed: less financial regulation. The current administration is beginning with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), lifting restrictions on so-called payday lenders. If the pattern of the Reagan and the Bush-2 administrations holds, look for massive taxpayer bailouts of the banking and other financial sectors.

Meanwhile, over at the Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas – he of the pubic-hair-on-a-Coke-can fame – has written dissenting opinions on two decisions.

In the first – supported by Neil Gorsuch and Samuel Alito – he wrote that the 6th Amendment “as originally understood and ratified meant only that a defendant had a right to employ counsel, or to use volunteered services of counsel.” In other words, a defendant has the right to an attorney, but only if he or she can pay for one. Too poor? Too bad.

In another recent case Thomas was the lone dissenter, attacking established precedent on the 1st Amendment. The Court declined to review a defamation case involving Bill Cosby, of all people. We have a Supreme Court justice who thinks it should be easier to collect damages from the news media while the current occupant of the White House is attacking the press as the “enemy of the people.”

We’ll be living for at least a generation with the Supreme Court’s curious interpretation of the Constitution, expanding individual rights under the 2nd Amendment – what “well regulated militia”? – while undermining the religious establishment clause of the 1st Amendment.

So much winning.

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