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Is It Time to Stop Worrying and Love the Deficit?

The tragedy, comedy, and horror of the US national debt and budget gap.

Not too many people are aware that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also has produced Hollywood motion pictures, such as Suicide Squad, Sully, and Batman v. Superman. Would it come as a surprise that he is set to produce a sequel to Dr. Strangelove titled Coronavirus: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Deficit? Well, not really, but the former Wall Street investment banker may have written a script about lawmakers who should not fret about a multi-trillion-dollar budget gap and a national debt that will soon swallow the world’s largest economy. It is a movie that delves into multiple genres, including tragedy, comedy, and horror: tragedy for fiscal conservatives, comedy for big government acolytes, and horror for U.S. taxpayers.

Mnuchin Munches on Worrywarts

Mnuchin recently made an appearance on CNBC’s Squawk Box to discuss the current state of the economy, as well as fiscal and monetary stimulus. Ultimately, his message to legislators was that officials should not worry too much about the exploding federal deficit and the central bank’s swelling balance sheet. He noted that this had been due to the relief efforts undertaken by lawmakers and the central bank for supporting the economy during the public health crisis.

He told the business news network:

“Now is not the time to worry about shrinking the deficit or shrinking the Fed balance sheet. There was a time when the Fed was shrinking the balance sheet and coming back to normal. The good news is that gave them a lot of room to increase the balance sheet, which they did.”

The Treasury secretary has been pushing for another round of relief, despite the U.S. economy rebounding and recovering. While negotiations surrounding the next trillion-dollar aid package are deadlocked, Mnuchin reiterated his willingness to work with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on a new agreement.

Mnuchin says he expects another stimulus proposal soon.

If Not Now, When?

Politicians – Republicans and Democrats – possess a knack for kicking the can down the road out of political expedience. During the bull run of the business cycle, officials want to keep the ball rolling by maintaining the status quo and refusing to ruffle any feathers. When the nation has run out of champagne, the esteemed representatives in the Swamp reject making the tough choices to show how in touch they are with the common man, even if it ends up fleecing that same person’s family in the future.

When President Donald Trump presided over one of the strongest economies in the nation’s history, he could have taken a chainsaw to the budget. Instead, Trump, the elephants, and the donkeys engaged in some bipartisan abuse of the public purse and tossed the calculator in the water in the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. It was a neoteric Boston Tea Party, but instead of rebelling against the British, they abandoned fiscal responsibility.

If Mnuchin does not want politicians to lose sleep at night over the $3.3 trillion – and counting – deficit, then when should these men and women pace the halls on Capitol Hill? When is everyone permitted to mutter to themselves about the ocean of red ink that floods Washington and will bankrupt the nation? Ostensibly, lawmakers should imbibe a dose of soma and keep calm about the reckless abandonment of Uncle Sam’s pockets.

Republicans were handwringing (rightfully so) from 2009 to 2017 about then-President Barack Obama and his Democratic bobby-soxers refusing to take the budget seriously. During the years of President George W. Bush, the left aired its grievances (rightfully so) about the GOP’s indifference to the trillions in deficit-financed spending. But it was all political theater, designed to spawn feigned partisan outrage in Congress and in the voting booth. Every time, there is some excuse to tap, insert, and swipe the credit card, but eventually the pieces of plastic get maxed out. Every four-year administration in the Oval Office and two-year class in the House will choose to transfer the credit card balance to the next generation’s Visa, Mastercard, or American Express without taking responsibility for its dereliction of duty to the American people.

Should former Vice President Joe Biden defeat the incumbent in November and move into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, he will inevitably run multi-trillion-dollar deficits and add to the national debt. Unless your name is Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) or Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), how could anyone’s criticisms of the outrageous spending be taken seriously?

What’s in a Trillion?

You may have noticed that this article is short on the numbers. But everyone knows how much debt America is in – public and private: $27 trillion national debt, $3.3 trillion gap, $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities and expenditures, $500 billion in interest payments, and $21 trillion in personal debt. What is the point of routinely citing these figures? For years, the fiscal cliff has been regularly discussed, and the financial doom and gloom has not sparked policymakers to enact long-term solutions. Instead, the Republicans and Democrats double down, whether it is tens of trillions of dollars on a Green New Deal or trillions on maintaining the status quo. The communists, known for their promotion of misery and suffering, say that one death is a tragedy and a million deaths is a statistic. Perhaps fiscal conservatives and libertarians can aver: $1 trillion is insolvency, and $27 trillion is a statistic.


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