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News Link • Government Debt & Financing

Skyrocketing Deficit? So What, Says New Washington Consensus

• Ben Holland Jeanna Smialek

That's because of President Donald Trump, and the equal-and-opposite reaction he's provoked on the U.S. left.

Trump is proving as indifferent to fiscal orthodoxy as to any other kind. The spending measure he signed on Friday, along with the one approved in March and December's tax bill, amount to the biggest stimulus outside recessions since the 1960s. They sailed through a House led by the supposedly hawkish Paul Ryan, who's due to step down in January without much progress on his goal of reining in so-called entitlements like social security -- an illustration of how Republican deficit scolds are in retreat.

On the Democratic side, the reaction that's firing up the grassroots isn't "How could you do that?'' It's: "Why can't we do that?''

How to Pay?
Democrats opposed the tax bill, and party leaders have deplored Trump's fiscal recklessness. But some Democrats are spinning it differently. There's always room to boost spending at the Pentagon or finance tax cuts for the rich, goes their argument -- so why not for social programs? "Ever notice how the 'how do you pay for it' argument is selectively employed against working class benefits?'' Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a House candidate in New York, tweeted in July.

In both parties, deficit spenders are gaining ground. That makes Year Two of the Trump administration look increasingly like end-times if you are, for example, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

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