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  • Democrats Promise to Spend and Spend, But Republicans Spend More!

Democrats Promise to Spend and Spend, But Republicans Spend More!

William L. Kovacs

November 2019

Democrats Promise to Spend and Spend, But Republicans Spend More!

In every presidential election the Republican candidate runs as a conservative promising to reduce the debt and deficit. Democrats run with bold ideas to spend unlimited trillions to provide Medicare for all, eliminate student debt, raise teachers’ salaries, increase the minimum wage and in the 2020 election, to spend trillions upon trillions to eliminate fossil fuels and rebuild our entire economy into a “green utopia.” Republicans attack Democrats as crazy, uncontrolled spenders. Unfortunately, the statistics tell a different story.  Republicans like spending, even a little more than Democrats.

In the 2016 election candidate Trump ran as a conservative promising to wipe out the National Debt in eight years. The debt was $20 trillion when President Obama left office.

By February 2019 the National Debt hit a record of $22 trillion, a $2.065 trillion increase in two years. By May 2019 it became clear the tax cuts would not generate enough income to offset the lost revenue and under budget estimates, debt would rise to $29 trillion in eight years.

Then the kicker! In July 2019 Congress and the President arrived at a budget deal that suspends the debt limit thereby allowing the government to spend whatever it wants for two years. The estimated cost of the deal is $2.7 trillion for two years but it could be much more.

While one wild spending Republican president does not undercut decades of promises from conservatives to cut spending and reduce the deficit, some simple calculations undercut the myth that conservatives care about debt and deficit more than Democrats. In a well-researched May 12, 2019 article in The Balance, Kimberly Amadeo sets out increases to the National Debt by each President since Woodrow Wilson.

To non-academics like me her article provides all that is necessary to answer one simple question – Which of the two major political parties spends more of our money and puts us deeper in debt?

To answer this question, I start with Herbert Hoover since he followed Calvin Coolidge, the last president who added $0 to the National Debt. In fact, according to her statistics, Coolidge decreased the existing National Debt by 26%, a $5 billion decrease. Amadeo’s numbers are set out in fiscal years (“FY”) since FY’s reflect the amount each President signs into law. This approach avoids the fact that a new president assumes the prior president’s budget for the first year in office. The amounts are actual dollars, without any adjustment.  I simply added up the amounts spent by each Presidential administration per fiscal year and put them into two columns, Republican and Democrat, to determine which political party added the most to the National Debt?

President* Years Republican Democrat Total Deficit
Hoover 1930-1933 $ 6 billion $ 6 billion
F. Roosevelt 1934-1945 $ 236 billion $ 242 billion
H. Truman 1946-1953 $ 7 billion $ 249 billion
D. Eisenhower 1954-1961 $ 23 billion $ 272 billion
J. Kennedy 1962-1964 $ 23 billion $ 295 billion
L.B. Johnson 1965-1969 $ 42 billion $ 337 billion
R. Nixon 1970-1974 $ 121 billion $ 458 billion
G. Ford 1975-1977 $ 224 billion $ 682 billion
J. Carter 1978-1981 $ 299 billion $ 981 billion
R. Reagan 1982-1989 $ 1.860 T $ 2.841 T
G.H.W. Bush 1990-1993 $ 1.554 T $ 4.395 T
W. J. Clinton 1994-2001 $ 1.396 T $ 5.791 T
G.W. Bush 2002-2009 $ 5.849 T $ 11.640 T
B. Obama 2010-2017 $ 8.588 T $ 20.228 T
D. Trump** 2018-2021 $ 5.088 T $ 20.228 T
http://jamiehale.co.uk/tag/disability/page/4 Party totals politicly $ 14.725 T amusingly $ 10.519 T Mount Hagen $ 24.474 T

*The FY deficit numbers for each President are based on the FY deficits stated by The Balance,        update August 26, 2019.

** Estimate of deficit based only on one term as President.

At the end of the Obama administration the two parties were almost statistically tied in the amount of debt they imposed on the nation. The seven Republican administrations imposed $9.637 trillion in debt. The seven Democratic administrations imposed $10.519 trillion. While both parties controlled the White House seven times during this period, the Democrats’ occupied the White House forty-eight years while the Republicans occupied it only forty years.  On a FY basis, Republicans, on average, increased debt by $241 billion a year whereas Democrats, on average, increased the debt by $219 billion a year.

The Trump administration however, is projected to add $5.088 trillion to the National Debt in his first term, leaving us with a National Debt of $24.474 trillion at the end of FY 2021. By comparison President Obama added $4.829 trillion to the National Debt in his first term. This time period however, includes the Great Recession and the added spending was necessary to hold off a depression.

Together, Obama’s two terms ($8.588 trillion of new debt) and the first term of the Trump administration ($5.088 trillion of new debt) added $13.676 trillion to the National Debt. Percentage wise the two administrations are responsible for 52% of the total National Debt. If there is a second term for the Trump administration, and it can hold the increase in the debt to projected amounts ($3.524 trillion), his administration would add $8.350 trillion to the national debt. Together, Obama’s $8.58 trillion and Trump’s $8.35 trillion would add almost $17 trillion to the national debt. Simply, Presidents Obama and Trump would be responsible for 59% of the nation’s national debt.

Therefore, after the first term of the Trump administration, conservative presidents, in their forty-four years in office, will have increased the national debt by $14.725 trillion whereas the wild-spending Democrats, in their forty-eight years in office, will have added  $10.519 trillion to the national debt.

So much for the myth that the Republicans care about debt and deficits? The moral of this story that Democrats tell the truth when they promise to spend our money and lots of it. Republicans merely tell us what we want to hear and when in office, they spend more of our money than Democrats.

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  • Restructuring Must Include Everything the Kakistocrats Manage

Restructuring Must Include Everything the Kakistocrats Manage

William L. Kovacs

June 2019

Restructuring Must Include Everything the Kakistocrats Manage

Complex societies collapse. Massively indebted nations collapse.  Countries with their military deployed throughout the world collapse.  Highly regulated states collapse. Governments that are torn by distrust and hatred between various groups of its people collapse. The United States is all of these risks combined and the kakistocrats, contently sitting on the bubble, claim they are addressing these risks.

The kakistocrats delude themselves that it can’t happen here.  It has happened to every major empire in the history of the world. Sometimes the collapse happens by war. Other times, by nature. Sometimes it happens by political decisions made to harm an opponent. As long as these many risks continue to linger our country is exposed to significant harm that could last decades or centuries.

We need only to look at the history books to appreciate this lesson. The world power centers of the 16th century include the Aztec, Inca, Ottoman, Persian, Mogul, and Ming empires. In the 1750s the European Colonial empires included the Portuguese, French, Spanish, British, Danish and Russian empires. In the 19th century, the great empires were French, Spanish, Austrian, and Russian. All these countries were diminished by war, excessive centralization, debt, or a failure to adapt technology to changing times.

Like all empires before us, our society will live with the risk perhaps for decades but then some sudden event will force dramatic change, and the kakistocracy will be helpless to address it.  At that point, the entire society goes into the abyss.  Once in the abyss, it can take centuries to reemerge from the darkness as chaos rules.

To quote the introduction of my book, “There are times in the history of nations when the citizens of the nation need to act before those entrusted with the control and resources of the nation cause it harm.”  Now is the time for action!  We must immediately demand that the kakistocrats act as fiduciaries, not politicians, and address the structural risks to our nation. 

What would be sufficient structural reform of our government?  Everything must be analyzed as if they were putting a puzzle together: taxes, spending, the sale of assets, elimination of excessive laws and regulations and the devolution of programs to the states when the states are more capable of implementing them than the federal government.  Entities facing systemic risks do this all the time. It is now time for the kakistocracy to do it for the nation. The federal government has undertaken successful but very limited, restructurings many times, e.g. the reorganization of the Penn Central Railroad into Conrail to preserve commerce in the eastern parts of the nation; reorganizing New York City and Chrysler Corporation to prevent bankruptcy and in 2009 the bailout and restructuring of the nation’s banking industry to prevent financial collapse.

It is now time to restructure a government that has not restrained itself since World War II. Massive amounts of debt and hundreds of thousands of laws and regulations are on the books, regulating everything from national defense and the conduct of war to the treatment of animals. The federal government owns thirty percent of the nation’s land and does not have anywhere near the cash needed even to maintain the structures it built, let alone develop more technologically advanced ones to compete in the world. Paying to sustain this massive structure is a printing press that prints dollars as long as it has ink.  We have a tax system that has been captured by special interests since the first time it was amended by Congress in 1918. 

Starting the reorganization begins with a simple question – What do we want our nation to look like in 10, 20, or even 50 years? If we continue on our present path, the view of the future is burdened with debt, centralization of government and conflict within society. If these issues remain unaddressed, we will not be a functioning nation for long. I assume not even the kakistocracy wants to face that bleak outcome, which is what we will get if we do nothing.

The restructuring process must all start with the federal government recognizing it is not capable of managing, and cannot afford, the massive government it has created. It must immediately identify essential programs and fund those programs to the extent of available revenues. If borrowing must occur, then it must only be for the essential programs.

Concurrent with prioritizing spending, Congress must review every program in the federal government and repeal all non-essential federal programs or devolve programs essential to the states to the states.

Next, the kakistocracy must compile a list of real assets (e.g., buildings, land, and mineral rights). Again, the assets should be prioritized, and only the assets needed for running the nation should be kept. Low priority assets should be sold, and the proceeds used to pay off the nation’s debt.

Every federal program that gives, grants, loans or subsidizes private entities should be quickly eliminated.

Even after completing this right-sizing trauma, the restructuring will only be just beginning. The kakistocracy will still need to address social security, reducing health care costs by twenty – five percent, and developing a tax system that eliminates complexity, unfairness and tax-avoidance schemes while collecting sufficient revenues to run the government. For suggestions on how to accomplish these changes see Part IV of my book.

Follow Bill @WilliamLKovacs