Remember when candidate Donald Trump began to riff on "winning" on the 2016 campaign trail? Not winning as in winning the election, because everybody knew he wasn't going to do that. But "winning" as in a mythical Trump administration accomplishing practically everything it set out to do?
"We're going to win," he said at a rally in Billings, Montana. "We're going to win so much. We're going to win at trade, we're going to win at the border. We're going to win so much, you're going to be so sick and tired of winning, you're going to come to me and go, 'Please, please, we can't win anymore.' You've heard this one. You'll say, 'Please, Mr. President, we beg you sir, we don't want to win anymore. It's too much. It's not fair to everybody else.' And I'm going to say, 'I'm sorry, but we're going to keep winning, winning, winning.' We're going to make America great again."
Unfortunately, we may have had too much winning. It's made America's left and its 2020 presidential candidates believe they can promise all manner of goodies and payouts in exchange for votes. How they'll pay for such largess is glossed over with a few words about taxing the rich, who of course have so much more from all the "winning." And taxing the rich is always a popular line to use on low-information voters, who can't imagine how jobs are created and sustained in the first place.
The "winning" has brought about near record low unemployment for U.S. workers and record lows for black and Hispanic workers. It's brought additional jobs, pay raises and, in general, a thrumming economy.
But the 2017 tax cuts that helped stimulate the economy also grew the country's already massive debt, which reached $22 trillion earlier this year. Yet, no one in Washington, D.C., seemed to care.
Republicans didn't blink an eye, and Democrats figured it gave them carte blanche to open the federal checkbooks to anything they could promise.
In California, it means expanding free health care to illegal immigrants up to the age of 26. To some candidates, it means free public college tuition. To others, it means Medicare for All. Still others favor universal child care, guaranteed income, a $15 minimum wage or a Green New Deal.
On this very day in Washington, D.C., it means a hearing on a bill to "establish a commission to study and consider a national apology and proposal for reparations for the institution of slavery, its subsequent de jure and de facto racial and economic discrimination and the impact of these forces on living African-Americans."
What would it cost to take money for reparations from those who never owned slaves and give to those who never were slaves? An economist at Duke University and leading scholar on reparations has put the price — based on one formula — at $2.6 trillion (with the U.S. fiscal 2019 budget at $4.7 trillion, for comparison).
(As an aside, a nationwide poll of black Americans last month put slavery reparations at the bottom of a list of 14 economic policies that might help the black community, and a federal jobs guarantee — favored by some 2020 Democratic candidates — next to last.)
The point, though, is not universal health care or free college tuition or guaranteed income or slave reparations. They are all issues worthy of debate — but not foremost in a country $22 million in debt.
Which brings us back to "winning." We would never prefer the tepid economic recovery modeled by former President Barack Obama to our current economy, but sometimes more difficult economic times force us to take a closer look at how we're spending our money.
We think, for instance, of the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985, a measure following the difficult economic times of the late 1970s and early 1980s that sought — unsuccessfully in the long run — to put spending constraints on the federal budget, and the budget sequestration required by the Budget Control Act of 2011 that followed the Great Recession and briefly lowered the federal deficit.
As rich a country as the United States is, its federal budget cannot stomach the goodies Democratic candidates are promising based on the current "winning" and the threat of massive higher taxes that would slow the economy to a crawl.
How these far left candidates get up day after day, look at themselves in the mirror and make these promises, knowing their adoption would mean eventual economic peril for the country, is astounding.
We would just implore those who are open to such voices to ask questions, to demand answers, to insist on explanations as to how such spending schemes are economically possible — even in the face of such "winning."