I notice that the federal deficit for fiscal 2019, ended September 30, hit nearly one trillion dollars. The deficit has doubled since its post-recession low in fiscal 2015, though the economy is running flat-out.
None of the would-be Democratic nominees is making an issue of this. Clearly Donald Trump is vulnerable. He cares nothing for fiscal prudence. As a businessman, he was a bankrupt; as the standard-bearer of the Republican Party he aims to “Make America Great,” and do it with borrowed funds. The Republicans once cared about deficits and the national debt, but really it was a long time ago. For years afterward, they talked as if they cared, but it was talk only. Now they don’t even talk. That would be disloyal.
Democrats occasionally would remind Republicans that the last budget surpluses were under Bill Clinton. This was true, but it was not important, and clearly it was never going to happen again.
Clearly Donald Trump is vulnerable. He cares nothing for fiscal prudence.
For a moment it sounded as if there might be one voice in 2020 for fiscal rectitude. Billionaire Howard Schultz, the former chairman of Starbucks, longtime Democrat and contributor to Hillary Clinton, created a stir back in January by floating the idea of running for president as an independent. His signature issue was the deficit, the debt, and the public credit — businessmen’s issues, to be sure, but important ones. That the federal debt had risen to $21 trillion, he said, represented “a reckless and immoral abandonment of leadership” by both parties. He was absolutely right. He was also for reform of the immigration law and the federal tax code, which he said had been held up by the hyper-partisanship in Congress. He was right about that, too.
Speaking January 30 on MSNBC, Schultz said he was no longer a Democrat, because, he said, “I do not believe what the Democratic Party stands for” — namely, a federal takeover of health insurance, free college for all, and a job for everyone, guaranteed by the government. All these things, he said, would cost trillions the federal government didn’t have, but if you didn’t swallow these proposals anyway, you could not be a Democrat.
“I don’t believe what Elizabeth Warren stands for,” he said. “I don’t believe the country should be heading toward socialism.”
“You think Elizabeth Warren is a socialist?” a panelist asked.
ll these things would cost trillions the federal government didn’t have, but if you didn’t swallow these proposals anyway, you could not be a Democrat.
“I think she believes in programs that will lead to a level of socialism in America,” Schultz replied.
The TV people got on Schultz’s case for being a rich guy. Schultz did not apologize.
“I’m self-made,” he said. “I grew up in the projects in New York. Elizabeth Warren wants to criticize me for being successful. No. It’s wrong.”
The Democrats in Shultz’s hometown, Seattle, told each other that Schultz was a “corporate candidate” who didn’t believe in anything. It was not true; he just didn’t believe what they did. In any case Schultz was persuaded not to run, and by now he is entirely forgotten. So, apparently, is his central issue, the federal government’s uncontrolled spending and borrowing.
I’m sad about that. Probably I would have voted for him.