After claiming to be the greatest at just about everything, Donald Trump has finally found an area where he can stake a credible claim. By negotiating a disastrous budget deal with Democrats, the President could become the greatest creator of government debt in the history of the country. While Trump is selling the two-year deal as a major victory because it increases military spending and removes the possibility of a government shutdown for two years, in reality, the agreement to suspend the debt ceiling and push annual deficits even further above the trillion dollar mark may only succeed in destroying the Republican Party as we know it.
The Tea Party wave of 2009 and 2010, a Republican movement born in reaction to the budget blowouts of the Obama Presidency, is now officially dead. It’s ironic that as Trump hammered the final nail into the Tea Party’s coffin, no one seemed happier than the corpse itself! There was hardly a word of discomfort from all the Republican Senators and Congressmen who had so loudly railed against debt when the other party occupied the White House. There is simply no legitimate way that Republicans will ever be able to argue again that they are the party of fiscal discipline. They may try, but only the most partisan and credulous voters will buy it.
CNBC’s Rick Santelli, the unofficial godfather of the Tea Party, should at least speak a few words at its funeral, and perhaps take the opportunity to reconsider his admiration for the man who murdered it. But don’t hold your breath. Trump has accomplished something Obama never could: convincing Republicans to abandon any remaining conservative principals to support massive increases in the size of government, without any regard for how much money will have to be borrowed to make it possible!
As I laid out in a commentary I wrote just before Trump took office in January of 2017, Republican bona fides on the issue of fiscal responsibility were never that strong to begin with. In fact, deficits have tended to expand faster under Republican presidents. Given the reputation of each party this may strike some as a surprise. But it makes sense when you consider the politics.