Listening to the president and congressional leaders, you might think Democrats, rather than Republicans, were calling the shots in Washington.
In presidential tweets and news conferences, leaders in the GOP are claiming Democrats are to blame for failing to pass immigration reform. And Democrats are to blame for skyrocketing federal deficits. They also are to blame for personnel shortages in the diplomatic corps. President Donald Trump even blames Democrats for Russian interference in the last U.S. presidential campaign.
GOP leaders have become like a 4-year-old who blames everything from spilled milk to a messy room on his imaginary friend.
Not that Democrats are imaginary, but it does take a flight of fancy to give them much clout when Republicans control the White House, Senate and House.
Consider federal deficits, which are now at a trillion dollars a year and headed still higher. The big reason are GOP tax cuts, although new spending, mostly for the U.S. military, also is adding red ink.
As the tax cuts were being proposed, Congress was warned by its own staff that they would not, as Trump claimed, pay for themselves by fueling additional economic growth.
Not even the White House believes that anymore. A year ago, White House officials vowed their tax cuts would create such energy that the country’s GDP would grow by 4 percent in 2018. A few days ago, the White House announced that it expects 3 percent growth this year.
Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve predicts the U.S. GDP to grow by 2.5 percent this year.
It’s also worth noting that the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has argued that tax cuts — of any kind — won’t create even a 0.4 percent difference in economic growth.
The story is much the same on other issues: Changing goals, squishy principles and lots of finger-pointing substitute for achievement.
The latest spending bill pushed through late at night with little debate illustrates the lack of sound reason or policy.
After Trump cut a deal with Democrats several weeks ago, the parameters for spending increases were set. Republican leaders in the House and Senate used the parameters to put together a $1.3 trillion spending bill that could win approval in both chambers. Trump agreed to the legislation.
Some Republican congressmen, however, balked. These same lawmakers happily agreed last fall to bigger budget deficits when they were cutting taxes. But they now feigned outrage by the debt created by hiking spending for such things as defense, medical research and transportation.
Some Fox News personalities also were angry about the spending bill, and they let Trump know it with on-air comments.
Following the comments from Fox and unhappy congressmen, Trump tweeted that he was considering a veto — but not because of deficit worries.
A few hours after that, Trump signed the bill.
Here’s an excerpt from the Associated Press coverage: “Trump said he was ‘very disappointed’ in the package, in part because it did not fully pay for his planned border wall with Mexico and did not extend protection from deportation to some 700,000 ‘Dreamer’ immigrants due to lose coverage under a program the president himself has moved to eliminate.”
But, Trump added that he was pleased with the huge increases in military spending.
Trump blamed Democrats for the lack of a deal for young immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. But he has reached agreements with Democrats on the Dreamer issue in the past, only to renege after hearing from foes of immigration on TV and in Congress.
With principles and proposals changing by the hour, it can be tough to follow where this president wants to lead. But that doesn’t excuse the president or Republican leaders in Congress from taking responsibility for their decisions.
Because Republicans cut taxes and created annual deficits of more than $1 trillion, they are not credible when they claim concern about even bigger deficits caused by a spending agreement to which they were a party.
It’s dishonest to pretend you care about the national debt only when it comes to expenses, not revenue. It’s even more dishonest when you try to convince voters that it’s all the work of Democrats.
A native of Garden City, Julie Doll is a former journalist who has worked at newspapers in California, Indiana and New York, as well as across Kansas.