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The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.
 

Jayne: ‘Voodoo economics’ reborn thanks to Trump, GOP

By Greg Jayne
Published: December 9, 2018, 6:01am

The bad thing is they don’t seem to know what they are doing. The worse thing is they don’t seem to care. Republicans in Washington, D.C., are clinging to economic policies that are proven failures while selling the American people a bill of goods.

All of this came to mind last week following the death of President George H.W. Bush. Amid the many reflections about the man’s basic decency, there were reminders that Bush once referred to President Ronald Reagan’s policies as “voodoo economics.”

That, of course, was before Bush became Reagan’s vice president and long before he became the 41st president. But for a while, Bush was a Republican with a conscience when it came to economic policy.

You see, suggesting that tax cuts will cause revenue to grow is one of the biggest canards ever foisted upon the American people. It is the Ford Pinto of governance; it sounds good and people will buy it, but it is destined to blow up. And the fact that many conservatives still believe it and still promote it is shamefully irresponsible.

All of which leads us to the current occupant of the White House. According to The Daily Beast, when told that his policies of tax cuts and spending increases will lead to an explosion of the national debt over the next decade, President Donald Trump responded, “Yeah, but I won’t be here.” A former senior White House official said, “I never once heard him talk about the debt.”

Now, you might try to dismiss this as fake news; but it fits in with Trump’s character. Despite talking about making America great again, he seems concerned only with how actions reflect on him today, with no interest in tomorrow. Which is a pretty good way to make America mediocre.

Just ask Kansas. After Sam Brownback was elected governor in 2010, he presided over the largest tax cuts in state history and promised “a shot of adrenaline into the heart of the Kansas economy.” Instead, it was more like a shot to the head. According to The Hill, an analysis at the University of Wisconsin found that “economic growth in Kansas fell well below its pre-Brownback trend and, by the spring of 2017, the rate of job growth in Kansas was not only lower than the rates in most of its neighboring states but less than half of the national average.”

So, naturally, early this year Republicans repeated the experiment on a national scale. Unemployment has remained low and the economy has remained robust, but the national debt is expanding at a record pace and nearing $22 trillion despite strong economic growth.

Debt is a concern

Which leads to questions about what kind of Kool-Aid they are serving in Congress. During an interview with The Columbian’s Editorial Board before she was elected to a fifth term, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, said, “What we see right now is we have more taxpayers with bigger paychecks and a more stable economy paying down the debt.” Um, we must have missed the memo about paying down the debt.

As Romina Boccia wrote last week for The Heritage Foundation: “In some sense, the national debt and its drivers represent the most predictable crisis in U.S. history. … The consequences are far-reaching, from higher interest rates to lower economic growth, and the potential for a severe fiscal crisis and a reduced ability to meet national security demands to keep America and its allies safe.”

Add that to Trump’s protectionist tariff policies, and the economic boom appears fragile. Tariffs have hampered Washington’s agriculture and construction industries. Farm bankruptcies in the Midwest are rapidly increasing, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. And Clark County businesses are seeing a price jump from vendors.

We hope this doesn’t end in disaster. Rooting for President Trump to fail would be akin to hoping the plane you are on flies into a mountain because you don’t like the pilot. But it sure seems that we could use some Republicans with a conscience in Washington, D.C.

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