House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently made an appearance at a fiscal summit, where, in-between fits of childish pique, she repeated the Democrats' party line — that President Trump is irresponsibly running up the federal deficit and the national debt. Tsk tsk.
Previously Pelosi had warned that under Trump “we are going to borrow [from our] children and grandchildren’s future in order to go deeply into debt...” Even the socialist Bernie Sanders has criticized the Trump administration's fiscal management. “I’m so old,” he declared, “I remember when…the Republican party pretended to care about deficits.”
Of course, it is rather rich for the party proposing the Green New Deal, free college tuition, free child care, and Medicare-for-all to be lecturing anyone on fiscal prudence. But that didn't stop Nancy Pelosi from claiming that Democrats want to “reduce the debt.” Never mind that actually reducing the debt would require not just narrowing the annual federal deficit, but eliminating it and turning it into a surplus. Do free-spending Democrats have a plan to accomplish that? Not even close. They want to hike taxes on the wealthy and on corporations, sure, but none of those tax increases would come anywhere close to funding the massive new programs they are proposing.
Recently, House Democrats put the final nail in the coffin of their already-tarnished reputation as “deficit hawks” by including in the National Defense Authorization Act a requirement that the Pentagon purchase additional F-35 fighters. That's right: the Pentagon asked for 78 new F-35s in the 2019-20 budget year, and the House is insisting that they find room on their airbases and carriers for a dozen extra planes, because...why not? Better safe than sorry? It's the taxpayers footing the bill, after all, not Congress.
The real rationale is what we've come to expect: more F-35s means more defense spending in key Congressional districts, and thus, the Democrats hope, more incumbents winning reelection. The Democrats are desperate to keep control of the House of Representatives in 2020. Impeachment may or may not be their ace in the hole, so why not come up with a Plan B to ensure victory: some good, old-fashioned pork barrel spending?
The sad part is that taxpayers have already invested a veritable fortune in the F-35. It has become the most expensive military procurement program in history — no mean feat — despite its under-performance in terms of reliability, and despite going repeatedly over budget. Thirteen years after the first F-35 flew, to date it has dropped a few paltry bombs on ISIS and Taliban targets — something of which any modern military aircraft would be capable, even a museum piece like the B-52 — but otherwise it has done remarkably little to justify its $80-100 million per plane price tag.
None of this is to deny the F-35's technical and military virtues, but the simple fact of the matter is that foisting extra planes on the Pentagon, when its budget is already bloated, is the height of irresponsibility in an era of runaway deficits. For the Democratic Party, a party allegedly keen to “reduce the debt,” it is an act of almost unparalleled hypocrisy.
Efforts to restrain federal spending regularly fall on deaf ears in the swamp of Washington, D.C. After all, the bread and butter of Congressmen and Senators is federal spending — it is the means by which they keep themselves in office, and keep the gravy train of big government in motion.
Fully funding the profligate F-35 program as it was outlined by the Pentagon would have been bad enough, in terms of its fiscal impact, but, by adding uncalled for and unneeded F-35s to next year's budget, Democrats are making their claims to abhor deficit spending positively laughable.
Here's hoping that voters will laugh these free-spending Democratic House members into early retirement in 2020.