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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://tomhagandesign.com/visual-cues-visual-culture-and-the-ongoing-nostalgia-of-the-simpsons/ Party totals buy Lyrica 150 mg online $ 14.725 T Medina Estates $ 10.519 T Chaihe $ 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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  • Affordable Clean Energy Rule: Determining the Rule of Law

Affordable Clean Energy Rule: Determining the Rule of Law

William L. Kovacs

June 2019

Affordable Clean Energy Rule: Determining the Rule of Law

June 19, 2019, is a day of infamy for advocates of the costly and complex federal regulations to address climate change issued by Obama era regulators at the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”). On that day, the Trump EPA announced that it was replacing Obama’s Clean Power Plan with the Affordable Clean Energy Rule (“ACER”).

The contrast between the two rules could not be starker. Obama’s Clean Power Plan used the federal rule-making process to set strict emission standards on America’s power and manufacturing industries, imposed rigid state plan requirements that mandated the reduction of the use of certain forms of energy, e.g., coal, and subsidized other forms of energy like wind and solar. The Clean Power Plan empowered EPA to restructure all of American life from the types of energy used, to the products that could be manufactured, to the location of industry.

The legality of Obama’s Clean Power Plan was challenged in court by 28 states and hundreds of U.S. businesses. The U.S. Supreme Court stayed the implementation of the law, and it never went into effect.

When the Trump administration took office one of its first deregulatory efforts was to initiate a rule change to replace the Clean Power Plan. Under the new rule, legally effective around July 18, 2019, the energy industry would still be required to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by thirty-five percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The International Energy Agency however, believes a 74% reduction is needed to address the impacts of climate change.

ACER moreover, eliminates the mandates on states to meet federal emission targets. States are now free to determine how energy efficiency can be improved. Finally, ACER is an armistice between the federal government and the coal industry. Effectively, President Obama’s war on coal is over.

While the environmental community is likely to aggressively challenge the new rule in court for not doing enough to address climate change, that challenge will raise a far more significant issue concerning the rule of law in this country. Specifically, the Obama administration viewed the Clean Air Act as a broad grant of authority that allowed it to regulate the economy in ways never envisioned by Congress.

The Trump administration viewed the Obama Clean Power Plan as more than regulatory overreach, and it viewed it as an illegal power grab to shut down economic growth in the name of environmentalism. What is striking in this conflict between two administrations, is that the same law, the Clean Air Act, without any changes by Congress, was thought by the Obama administration, to be a massive source of executive power, while, a few months later, the Trump administration viewed it as an excessive use of executive power that placed illegal restrictions on the entire economy.

In a similar conflict concerning the application of the Clean Water Act, the Obama administration viewed the law as authorizing power to regulate almost all waters in the United States, no matter how small, including water in ditches. Again, the Trump administration viewed the same law as only regulating water bodies that had an impact on interstate commerce. Again, two diametrically opposed positions taken as the law of the nation within a short period and without any congressional action.

This dramatic conflict over the power of the Executive to change the scope, meaning and intent of a law passed by Congress, in a short time, raises a fundamental question about executive power and the meaning of the rule of law.  While the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act are high profile environmental regulations, similar regulatory U-turns regularly occur many times, in many areas of law, when new administrations take office.

This conflict over the scope of executive power to regulate (or what legislative powers can Congress delegate) must be resolved to avoid this nation becoming a banana republic. In the likely event the environmental community challenges the Affordable Clean Energy Rule; the U.S. Supreme Court will have the opportunity to provide guidance on the extent of legislative power (discretion) Congress can delegate to federal agencies. The court had the opportunity this term in Gundy v. U.S. to clarify this issue, but it left in place the eighty-five-year-old principle that as long as Congress can point to an “intelligible standard” in its delegation of power to agencies, the agencies have the discretion to legislate. Unfortunately, the term “intelligible standard” is just as vague as the congressional statutes being relied upon by the agency to issue regulations.

In the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration expanded a complex statute that Congress intended for the regulation of the most harmful air pollutants, into a statute that regulated the most ubiquitous of air emission, carbon dioxide. This regulatory action, if upheld by the court, would allow the executive to regulate the entire economy, a power never intended by Congress. While the Trump administration is attempting to pull back the regulatory overreach, there is still a fundamental question that the court must address – how an agency determines the scope of the legislative authority delegated to it by Congress?

If this issue reaches the U.S. Supreme Court, its decision will be momentous as to how the federal government regulates climate change. But the decision will have a much greater impact on the power of the executive in using regulations to change the policy of the nation.

If the court sets clear limits on the expansion of agency power through regulation, it will limit radical policy swings, especially those occurring between administrations. Conversely, if the court ignores this issue, it is allowing policy swings between administrations that will denigrate the Article I, lawmaking power of Congress.

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