Is $20 trillion of debt enough, or do we need more?
Most building is done with debt. You don’t wait to buy a home until you can pay for it. You borrow, and buy your home over the course of 30 years. Without debt, things don’t get built. The Roman Catholic Church was opposed to debt, or usury as they called it. So it couldn’t borrow the money needed to build the great cathedrals of Europe. As a consequence, they took hundreds of years to build.
Trump’s a builder, and he’s going to take on debt to do it. Interest rates will rise, and we’ll have some inflation. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s basic Keynsianism. You borrow and spend when the economy is weak, and you stop borrowing once the economy has returned to full strength. You count on economic growth to provide the revenue to pay the interest on the debt.
The problem with Keynesian economics is that once they start borrowing, the politicians never stop. Even when the economy is relatively strong, as it was under Bush 2, they keep on borrowing. The pressure to spend, especially on popular entitlement programs, is too great. This is why we still need a Balanced Budget Amendment. Not to stop Trump from two more years of taking on debt. It’s to stop him, and his successors, from continuing to borrow, when the borrowing is based on political, not economic, considerations.
State legislators understand all this. The one thing every Speaker of the House, and every President of the Senate, knows is that they are responsible for passing a budget. It’s the one thing they have to do, and in almost all cases it has to balance. They know how it’s supposed to work, and they want Congress to work that way. And with Article V they can make it happen.
Any day now I may hear the news that Project 2017 is a go. And if that happens, we’re going to get to 34 this year.
When I started this blog three years ago I did it with the hope that the political tide had turned, and great change was coming. The rising tide of change would be so strong that it would lift even the heaviest of boats — Article V. If ever the time was right, this was going to be it. So I called Lew Uhler, who I hadn’t been in touch with for 30 years, and he brought me in to the BBA Task Force. I had no idea such a group existed. I was amazed, actually. They were working under the assumption that there would be support from Democratic State legislators. They started working on this about seven years ago, in 2009, when Republicans had complete control over 14 State Legislatures. They did not believe that Republicans would, over the course of the next four election cycles, pick up 19 more States. They thought, instead, that they’d get help from Democrats.
In this, they were completely misguided. The Task Force has added 12 States to the 16 that were still valid from the Lew Uhler era. Every one of them was under complete Republican control. We never got one bit of help from any Democrat in the country, who mattered. And we’ll get to 34 without one bit of help from any Democrat. I hope that’s wrong. The Democrats need a new identity, and offering a balance to the wild spending of Trump may be a part of the way back for them.
For Article V to happen, it took true believers, like Dave and Suzie Biddulph, and Bill Fruth, and Loren Enns to carry the ball when the cause was, in fact, quixotic.
Well, it’s not quixotic any more.