Under Trump, Our Economy Is A House of Cards. Democrats Need to Tell Voters How They'll Prevent Collapse | Opinion

The Congressional Budget Office recently projected that the U.S. national debt will rise to 98 percent of gross domestic product by 2030 and that deficits will be more than $1 trillion every year for more than a decade—eye-popping revelations that are every bit as bad as they sound.

Yet while the fiscal deficit goes through the roof, many conservatives have been unwilling to take on the Trump administration's economic approach, even if it means betraying their avowed fiscal conservatism.

Democrats in Congress and on the campaign trail must call out this hypocrisy and strongly make the case for a more responsible path forward.

It's important to acknowledge that all deficits are not created equal. Higher deficits are appropriate during economic downturns or large-scale military conflicts.

For example, when president Obama inherited the financial crisis in 2009, the deficit had hit a record-high of $1.4 trillion. Yet, in order to provide aid to the economy, he signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus package, which included $748 billion in new stimulus provisions and an additional $262 billion in net interest costs over the next decade. The administration embraced "near and long-term support" for the economy, which, alongside the stronger growth which ensued, helped drive down the budget deficit to $438 billion six years later—a 69 percent drop from fiscal year 2009.

The lesson of the Obama years is that short-term deficits are necessary – even good—if they are thoughtful investments to reinvigorate an ailing economy.

President Trump's fiscal policy is quite the opposite, and his tax cuts for the wealthy—along with unprecedented increases in military spending—have come at the expense of the middle class and of investments in education and infrastructure.

In 2017, president Trump and his administration passed the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – a package that slashed the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent and included several individual high-income tax cuts. At the same time, Trump has increased America's defense budget by nearly 23 percent.

As a result, the U.S. government's budget deficit is now projected to exceed $1 trillion, and the adverse consequences for future generations will be enormous.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, large and growing federal deficits often have immediate and long-term outcomes for average taxpayers, including: lower national savings and income; higher interest payments; decreased financial ability to respond to problems; and most importantly, greater risk from a fiscal crisis. To make matters worse, the magnitude of this year's trillion-dollar federal deficit plus the unacceptably high real unemployment figure which is now hovering around 7 percent signal that a recession might be on the horizon.

So, where do the standard-bearers of the Tea Party stand on Trump's lavish spending habits? They have hardly made a peep.

Democratic candidates on the national stage should be focused on reducing the federal deficit by enacting progressive fiscal policy, such as implementing a reformed estate tax, as has been floated by Senator Elizabeth Warren, or increasing the corporate tax rate, which has been raised by former Vice President Joe Biden. These would not only help balance the federal budget, but they would also ensure more resources to invest in the bold progressive policies that the candidates are talking about, such as health care reform, affordable education and climate change reform.

It is time for Democrats to accept the challenge to change America's current misguided fiscal course and again balance the federal budget.

Leo Hindery, Jr. is co-chair of the Task Force on Job Creation and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Formerly the CEO of AT&T Broadband and its predecessor, Tele-Communications, Inc., he is currently an investor in media properties. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own.​​​​​