As the Senate prepares to vote on tax cuts, Arizona Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain have a chance to prevent a more than $1.5 trillion increase to the national debt. Debt is already high by historical standards, and this considerable addition could make it harder to run even the most basic functions of the government.
Republicans trumpet their efforts to cut taxes, but the government needs revenue to pay for middle-class priorities like health care. The current bill will do more harm than good. For little more than a short-term economic benefit, the cost of the legislation will exacerbate the nation’s fiscal problems at a time when gross debt already exceeds GDP.
Gross debt currently exceeds $20 trillion and is already projected to grow by $10 trillion more over the coming decade absent the tax cuts. Worse yet, the tax legislation is filled with budget gimmicks and provisions with temporary statuses that mask a true cost that could exceed $2 trillion. These tax cuts do not pay for themselves.
There would be less room for the government to manage unexpected budget needs with the additional debt accompanying such a costly tax bill, making it harder to respond to natural disasters, recessions, and evolving defense priorities. The tax legislation could even trigger across-the-board cuts that could affect health care programs. Congress can do better.