The president is absorbing a severe battering.
From his left, Democrats seek to bayonet him out of office. They insist his sins against American democracy are of the mortal, impeachable variety.
From his right, the war hawks and bugle blowers rage against him.
They claim he has handed Turkey a permission slip to gobble northern Syria. Northern Syria is thick with Kurdish militias.
Turkey packs a mighty hatred for these Kurds (we refer you to Professor Google for the whys and what-fors).
And it is eager to shoo them as far as possible from its borders.
But the Kurds are true-blue American allies, holler the president’s party critics. The Kurds were instrumental in defeating ISIS, they remind him.
Moreover, Iran and Russia will boss the entire region if the United States withdraws.
No, America must get in back of the Kurds. By natural extension, American boots must remain forever glued to Syrian soil.
A “grave mistake,” Sen. Marco Rubio labels Mr. Trump’s decision. (The wrong graves will fill, we presume.)
Abandoning the Kurds would constitute a “catastrophic mistake,” shrieks Rep. Liz Cheney. Mrs. Cheney is the daughter of “deficits don’t matter” Richard Cheney.
Sen. Lindsey Graham styles Trump’s decision a “catastrophe in the making.” It is further a “stain on America’s honor.”
Just so. But here is one more “catastrophe in the making.” Here too is a “stain on America’s honor”:
We are informed reliably — by the Congressional Budget Office — that the federal budget deficit surges to embarrassing heights.
The Hill, in summary of CBO’s findings:
The federal budget deficit for 2019 is estimated at $984 billion, a hefty 4.7% of gross domestic product (GDP) and the highest since 2012, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said on Monday.
The difference between federal spending and revenue has only ever exceeded $1 trillion four times, in the period immediately following the global financial crisis.
The deficit, which has grown every year since 2015, is $205 billion higher than it was in 2018, a jump of 26%.
A 26% jump over last year — at a time when the economy is expanding.
The Keynesian bible counsels governments to run surpluses during bountiful times… when the economic cup floweth over and the tax haul is heavy.
Come the inevitable recession, the national strong box bursts with cash. This cash the government can then shake out into the general economy.
There it coaxes and tickles the snoozing economic machinery into vigor… and lifts the economy out of recession.
The cycle can then begin anew.
But even the old Keynesian religion — once considered profligate — binds too heavily in these liberated times.
It has yielded to the heretic faith of Perpetual Deficit.
The new canon permits the federal government to run deficits at all times, in all seasons… lean or fat.
Can the nation rub along on the estimated $3.5 trillion it will lay out in federal taxes this year?
Or the additional $3.3 trillion it gives in state and local taxes?
That is, on a combined $6.8 trillion of tax money?
Only the iciest stoneheart — or a suicidal politician — would propose it.
Too many snouts are in the trough, guzzling the overflow. To kink the hose would be next door to murder.
The bureaucracies of Washington would take to rebellion. That is, the swamp would take to rebellion.
But it is not only the marshy bogs of the nation’s capital. We the People would likewise wail in protest.
As we have noted before:
We demand a shining military machine with every whistle and bell… heaping doses of Social Security… Medicare… a Rolls-Royce education… a million gaudy baubles.
But we do not wish to pay for it all.
Hand it over, we bark out one corner of our mouth. But don’t dare raise our taxes, we belch out the other.
Many of us say we’re heart and soul for limited government.
But we are heart and soul for limited government… as long as it’s the other fellow’s heart and soul feeling the blade.
Give me that tax break, says the one. No, give it to me, says the other.
You can both go scratching, says the third. I deserve it more.
A fourth files a claim of his own.
Meantime, the hard-luck farmer wants his back scratched. The hard-pressed businessman wants his belly rubbed. The overlabored teacher wants her apple.
And millions more are hard at the business…
All trying to work the angles, to get a bucket in the stream, to get a snout in the trough… to catch a penny.
It is the evil of “special interests” when the other fellow gets his.
But it is “democracy in action” when it butters our own parsnips.
Of course… your editor is no exception. We enjoy having our own parsnips buttered — and in drowning amounts.
We conclude with a modest proposal:
If the president is to be impeached… impeachment proceedings should commence against nearly all elected officials sitting at Washington.
Fiscal irresponsibility should be the charge.
And We the People should be impeached for electing them…
Managing editor, The Daily Reckoning