The Debt Ceiling, GOP Fiscal Brinkmanship vs Democratic Fiscal Responsibility


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To the Editor:

Our Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen has warned us that the US will not have enough cash to meet our obligations as early as June 1. If we default on our debt, we will incite a cataclysmic chain of events that will ruin our credit as a nation and will plunge our economy into a tailspin and cripple our standing internationally. Our enemies will be toasting our demise. Having refused to pass the debt ceiling (something the GOP majority did 3 times during Trump’s presidency), the GOP majority in congress has been holding the country hostage, using the debt ceiling to call for draconian cuts to social programs. 

We have arrived at this inflection point due to decades of poor governmental fiscal management. Ever since Ronald Reagan’s experiment with trickle down economics created a yawning budget deficit that doomed Greenwich’s own George “No New Taxes” Bush’s re-election bid, Republicans nationwide have abandoned responsible budgeting.

The story since has been one of Republican administrations blowing up the federal deficit by enacting massive tax cuts for the wealthy while trying to slash critical public services for the working class. Then, when people realize they’ve been had,  Democrats take over and bring budget and spending priorities back from the brink. In just four years, President Trump increased the national debt by $7.8 trillion, and the deficit by nearly $2 trillion. Since Biden took office, the deficit has decreased by $1.4 trillion.

So weeks after Tax Day, it bears repeating that in Connecticut, the party of actual tax cuts—and responsible budgeting—is the Democratic Party. Last year Connecticut Democrats passed a $660 million tax cut, a plan that nearly every Republican opposed. Moreover, it appears that Gov. Ned Lamont and the leadership of the General Assembly are headed toward passing another tax cut that includes an income tax break for the first time in three decades.

The editorial board at Hearst newspapers is actually concerned that Democrats aren’t spending enough. “We’re left, then, with modest increases in spending for education, social services and health care at a time when needs continue to grow,” they reasoned.

It’s a fair point. There are still many unmet needs in Connecticut. Lamont’s plan would provide tax savings of $594 per year for middle income couples while the legislature’s finance committee plan would save the same couple $198 less in order to increase funding for essential needs.

These are healthy debates, made possible because Democrats in leadership positions have engaged in responsible budgeting, paying careful attention to funding critical services and public projects that improve quality of life for everyone in Connecticut.

For instance, Lamont replenished the state’s rainy day fund, which Republican governor Jodi Rell had drained. Now Connecticut’s cash reserves are the largest they have ever been. At the same time, it’s estimated that recent state contributions to reduce our pension fund debt will save taxpayers $440 million in interest payments.

How refreshing. This stands in sharp contrast to the ideologically driven, cynical budget process Greenwich has just witnessed at the hands of the Republican majority on our Board of Estimate and Taxation (BET). Wielding their tie-breaking vote, BET Republicans ignored their Democratic colleagues, members of the Board of Education, building committees, and the pleas of the community and rammed through a town budget that disregards school kids, families, public safety, and smart municipal planning.

With municipal elections this November 7, make a plan to vote for the Democratic party, to bring balanced fiscal planning to Greenwich as well.  

Trevor Crow
Greenwich, CT