Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy might be proud of the “Fiscal Responsibility Act” debt ceiling deal he worked out with President Joe Biden, but the lack of hard spending cuts means there is little to celebrate for conservatives.
“The national debt is now the same size as our gross domestic product. It’s like your credit card debt being as much as your entire annual income,” says Peter Schweizer on this week’s episode of The Drill Down podcast. “That’s pretty much what our federal government has done. And it’s going to continue to skyrocket.”
The deal passed with plenty of support from Democrats who told their allies the deal left their pet spending priorities untouched while throwing a few scraps to Republican budget hawks, such as pulling back funds to add more IRS enforcement agents.
So, there were some positives. “You can’t make the perfect the enemy of the good,” Schweizer tells co-host Eric Eggers.
Still, any spending bill that doesn’t touch entitlement spending growth isn’t scratching the real itch. And one of those scraps that Republicans fell for was to leave defense spending untouched, he notes.
“Defense spending was not included in the caps. I’m hawkish but how can we have an honest debate about spending if we don’t look at defense spending? There’s a lot of spending on the military side that’s wasteful or just fraud,” he points out. A decade ago, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen made waves when he told Congress that the spiraling national debt was the gravest threat to US security.
“We have to be honest about these things,” Schweizer said. “The US spends about $870 billion on defense each year – more than next 10 countries combined.” The deal pushes those conversations out to 2025.
What this drastic situation needs, Schweizer says, is a “radical transparency” that forces Congress to act the way fiduciaries do in the business world, where disclosures and declarations about future revenue and expenses – and conflicts of interest – are all documented and there are real consequences for fudging those numbers.
“The situation now is that they know the train is going to crash, the brakes don’t work, and the bridge up ahead is out, but they are all planning to jump off before the train crashes.”