There’s still no such thing as a free lunch
Progressives are angry at Arizona Sen. Krysten Sinema’s objection to a massive $3.5 trillion spending package. Like many partisans on the left, there’s a belief the government can spend whatever it wants with no consequences.
As Brian Reidl writes, Sinema and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin are:
…subjected to a daily dose of progressive vitriol that often exceeds even that directed at Mitch McConnell. They are seen as traitors, working with Republicans to sabotage the full Democratic control of Congress and the White House that took a decade to build and requires a blitzkrieg of legislative activity before the next election in 15 months.
Being on the receiving end of vitriol comes with the job. But Sinema and Manchin and a handful of others are right – Washington’s already-legendary spending problem has become downright destructive:
The danger of soaring debt is that—much like global warming—by the time you can directly feel its effects, it is too late to address them without significant pain. Nations that find themselves with unsustainable debt face three painful choices: historic tax increases, drastic spending cuts, or running the printing press. Much better to make responsible decisions today to avoid these awful options.
The responsible thing to do is offer a plan to pay for all that spending:
Progressives could afford many of their goals if they were willing to address the $100 trillion Social Security and Medicare shortfalls projected over the next few decades. Even trimming benefits for wealthy seniors could save trillions of dollars over the long term. Modest proposals like family leave, child tax credits, and clean energy investments can be funded by trimming existing programs, or with smaller tax increases. But if progressive instead want to spend like Europeans, they should be willing to tax like Europeans. That means preparing the middle class for substantially higher income and payroll taxes and creating exorbitant new value-added taxes.
Spending trillions of dollars on popular benefits is easy, especially when you can dump the painful costs on future taxpayers.
Politicians of both major parties have an ingrained habit of sticking everyone’s kids and grandkids with the bills they run up today. And politicians do so because…bipartisan majorities of voters demand it. The cycle of elect-spend-reelect-spend more will end in tears.