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Linderman: Armstrong continues to bear false witness

Enough of Kelly Armstrong's, well, let's call it "bearing false witness." (Column published Jan. 1) Armstrong wants to discuss only certain provisions of the so-called tax reform and tries to redirect the conversation to Obama era deficits. The 500-page tax bill is way too complex to even start a discussion here. But the main feature is huge tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest people on the planet. They then threw in some modest temporary tax cuts for the rest of us to buy us off. And where is that tax return on a postcard?

Obama inherited the Great Recession and a huge budget deficit from the Bush administration. The entire global economy was in a scary situation. Tax breaks and deficit spending were successfully used to stimulate the economy. The annual deficit remained, but was greatly reduced in size and as a percentage of gross domestic product over the course of Obama's presidency.

The irony is not Sen. Heidi Heitkamp's take on deficits. It is the Republican record on deficits and the national debt. In 1980, the United States had a total of nearly $1 trillion in debt after nearly 200 years, a Great Depression, and two World Wars. Then, after tax cuts, the Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush years ended with $4 trillion in debt.

The next president, Bill Clinton, was able to get small tax increases passed. Republicans cried that the economy would tank. The opposite happened. The economy prospered and the result was not only a balanced budget but budget surpluses.

Then, along comes George W. Bush and more tax cuts. We even fought a war with borrowed money. Vice President Dick Cheney said deficits don't matter. The national debt exploded.

Now, President Trump and the Republican Congress are setting us up for more of the same. Trump likes to brag about the stock market at record levels. The jobless percentage is at the lowest since 2000. So why do the wealthy need tax cuts? Tax cuts and deficit spending are tools to fight recession. What will Trump and Congress do if a recession comes along and they have already squandered the remedy?

Armstrong dismisses the threat to Medicare, Social Security, Head Start, crop insurance and other programs. Does he want to promise they will not be cut? I will be glad to keep track and let him know how it turns out.

A recent letter said that Sen. John Hoeven and Rep. Kevin Cramer "stuck to their guns." What they really did was cave in and support a deeply flawed bill so the Republicans could say "Look, we finally did something!" Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, all the Democrats, and a few conscionable Republicans had the courage and took the risk of casting a responsible vote.

Linderman lives in Carrington, N.D.

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