Rep John Faso sold himself as a fiscal conservative. His campaign ads and literature talked about his frugality and how he tried as a state Rep to close the state budget gap. Republicans in the Obama era screamed bloody murder about deficits, convinced that they would ruin America and weaken the dollar, and Faso joined in their disdain for all the “entitlements” that were bankrupting our nation.
Meanwhile, on the campaign trail, candidate Trump talked about how horrible the Obama years were, how awful the deficit was, and told the Washington Post that he would eliminate the national debt in eight years. To Sean Hannity he said he could eliminate the debt “relatively quickly”. Otherwise, he said, we were heading for a “massive recession” if he weren’t elected.
The Trump Administration, by contrast to his deluded campaign rhetoric, has overseen an extraordinary explosion of the deficit. The GOP tax scam will add at least $1.5 trillion to the deficit, and Trump’s degradation of the ACA will also add to the deficit. Where will the offsetting money come from? Silence.
Maybe Republicans only care about the deficit when they are out of power, and maybe all of the voters and Tea Party extremists who railed against deficits were in on the joke, ready to abandon their principles the moment the GOP regained power. But despite their motives, we are left with stark facts. Democrats are FAR more fiscally responsible than Republicans. This article by the New York Times goes into detail, and the bar graph near the end is a vivid illustration of how consistently Republicans explode the debt while Democrats consistently reduce it.
Regardless of whether voters still care about deficits and the national debt, some of them still care about honesty and consistency. And in this regard, Rep John Faso has a problem. He generally supported the budgets that haven’t cut spending to match cuts in taxes. And though his party allowed him to vote against the Tax Scam (because they had enough votes without him), he still vocally and enthusiastically supported the provision in the bill that screwed blue states out of the ability to deduct state and local taxes on federal returns, hurting many of the taxpayers in our district.
When it comes to the massive and growing national debt, “frugal” Rep John Faso has been an enabler, not a critic. He and his party have done exactly what they for years falsely accused the Democrats of doing. Incredibly, polling shows that Americans still consider the Republicans the party of fiscal responsibility, probably because conservatives spent a lot of time lying about these issues on cable news and in campaign ads. The Democrats must hammer the point home over and over that they are the true party of fiscal responsibility, and that the GOP are the party of reckless tax cuts and corporate fealty.
Whoever our nominee for Congress turns out to be, that candidate has to make a point that the GOP has done a horrible job for decades managing our finances, and that the Democrats have and will do a much better job of balancing tax burdens and human priorities that affect the daily lives of residents in NY-19. The Democrats would never have cut taxes on the wealthiest Americans, handing them 80% or more of the benefits. The question to voters is simple. Would you rather have twenty extra dollars in your paycheck and huge deficits and rising inequality and less retirement security, or less inequality and affordable health care and safety in your old age?
We are more fiscally responsible. We have to own it.