Justin Haskins: Trump, Republicans are caving on budget (again) -- Socialists are taking advantage

Republicans love to talk about “fiscal responsibility,” but when push comes to shove, many put politics over America’s growing debt crisis. Someday, perhaps soon, they’re going to regret it.

The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives voted 284-149 Thursday to approve a budget and debt deal supported by President Trump. Despite the president’s backing, most House Republicans voted against the measure and most Democrats voted for it.

The party split was 219 Democrats voting to approve the deal and 16 Democrats voting against it. On the other side of the aisle, only 65 Republicans voted in favor of the budget and debt deal, while 132 voted against it.


The legislation extends the nation’s debt ceiling through 2021 and increases spending for defense and domestic programs over the next two years. The measure would prevent the Defense Department and domestic agencies from being hit with $125 billion in automatic spending cuts under a 2011 budget deal.

By allowing the federal government to continue running up the debt, lawmakers who have voted in favor of increased government spending have done more than simply act irresponsibly. As I explain below, they have aided socialists – albeit unknowingly – in their pursuit to convince Americans that debt and deficits don’t matte

If you haven’t heard of modern monetary theory (MMT) yet, you soon will. It’s the economic theory of choice among many in the socialist wing of the Democratic Party, and its radical principles have been gaining traction on the left at breakneck speed over the past few years.

The Republican-controlled Senate is expected to approve the budget legislation in the week ahead. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has been involved with the negotiations with the White House from the start.

There’s no point in lambasting Democrats on the budget agreement. If you’ve paid any attention at all to U.S. politics over the past couple of decades, you know Democrats don’t care about deficits and debt to fund ever-expanding Big Government federal programs.

But Republicans should know better. They’re supposed to represent the party of fiscal restraint and limited government. They’ve been promising voters to rein in Washington’s out-of-control, drug-like addiction to debt in election after election campaign.

And yet here they are, once again agreeing to dramatically increase the already gargantuan $22.5 trillion national debt. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget projects the new agreement, if approved by the Senate, would add $1.7 trillion to the national debt over the next decade.

Even worse, many in the Republican leadership are celebrating this national travesty. McConnell said he was “really impressed” by the way the White House has handled this “really challenging situation.”

Following the House vote, Trump thanked members of Congress on Twitter, writing: “I am pleased to announce the House has passed our budget deal 284-149. Great for our Military and our Vets. A big thank you!”

It’s true that there was a sizeable group of House Republican lawmakers who voted against the deal, including Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., who attempted to change the title of the legislation before it passed from “The Bipartisan Budget Act” to “The Kick the Can Down the Road Act.” Unsurprisingly, that effort failed.

But even many of these Republicans aren’t acknowledging just how dangerous the growing national debt is, especially in light of the fact that socialists have openly been discussing how to use an ever-larger national debt to seize control of the economy under a once-obscure idea called “modern monetary theory.”

If you haven’t heard of modern monetary theory (MMT) yet, you soon will. It’s the economic theory of choice among many in the socialist wing of the Democratic Party, and its radical principles have been gaining traction on the left at breakneck speed over the past few years.

According to supporters of MMT, the national debt and deficits don’t matter, because the federal government controls the currency and can simply print whatever money it needs to pay off the debt it owes.

Printing money can cause high inflation, of course, which can create serious economic problems. But MMT theorists say the government could control that problem by substantially increasing regulations and instituting price controls over the parts of the economy that are supposedly driving that inflation.

For example, if growing energy prices are causing inflation, MMT supporters say government should simply institute energy price controls or pump significant amounts of cash into certain parts of the energy industry to help push prices down.

In other words, those who support MMT believe the government could solve virtually any societal problem, whenever it wants, by simply printing more money and regulating the heck out of certain industries at appropriate times.

You might be wondering how taxes fit into an economy in which the federal government can print as much money as it needs to, whenever it desires. Interestingly, many MMT backers say taxes aren’t necessary to fund government programs.

Instead, MMT supporters believe taxes should be used to punish the wealthy, increase income “equality,” and drive out of business those companies and industries that are considered by the ruling class in Washington to be “dangerous” – for whatever reason.

As MMT advocate Pavlina R. Tcherneva, the program director and associate professor of economics at Bard College, recently wrote for the popular socialist magazine Jacobin: “For the record MMT … has always argued for taxing the wealthy to address the problems of inequality and political power, but we also offer a different kind of empowerment – one that comes with lifting the veil of money.”

These ideas might sound too extreme for anyone to accept other than those on the political fringe, but they have quietly existed within influential quarters of the Democratic Party for at least the past several years.

In fact, one of the leading advocates of MMT, Stephanie Kelton, served as a senior economic adviser to socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., when he ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016. She also served as the Democrats’ chief economist for the U.S. Senate Budget Committee in 2015.

Socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., also expressed some support for the theory, and it seems evident that many of Ocasio-Cortez’s enormously costly proposals would require such an approach to spending.

In fact, Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal” even calls for a new system of publicly-owned banks to help “finance” the projects – likely a creative way to say the government should print truckloads of cash to pay the proposal’s massive multitrillion-dollar tab.


As Tcherneva noted for Jacobin: “We have done the heavy lifting to bust formidable, decades-long myths about government spending, to help … pave the way for today’s bold and unapologetic programs that reclaim the state.”

Republicans and the Trump administration have done many great things for the United States, but if they don’t stop working with Democrats seeking to recklessly spend money, none of it will matter. Socialists will use decades of huge deficits and debt to justify even greater deficits and debt, and the result will be that government will have control over much of our economy and society.