2016: The reck­less vs. the re­spon­si­ble

Cecil Whig - - OPINION - Dana Mil­bank Dana Mil­bank is a syn­di­cated colum­nist. Con­tact him at danamil­bank@wash­post. com.

WASH­ING­TON — Free trade agree­ments “have been dis­as­trous” for Amer­ica, the can­di­date said, and have sent jobs to Mex­ico and China. “I will stop it by rene­go­ti­at­ing all of the trade agree­ments that we have.”

It sounded like just another threat from Don­ald Trump to tear up trade deals and make good ones in­stead.

Ac­tu­ally, the can­di­date who said this was Bernie San­ders, last week in New York. And that’s no co­in­ci­dence: He and Trump are peas in a pod.

In their po­lit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy and tem­per­a­ment, they couldn’t be more op­po­site. Trump is a bil­lion­aire with strong­man ten­den­cies who preys on the weak and has run the coars­est po­lit­i­cal cam­paign in mod­ern mem­ory. San­ders is a so­cial­ist and cham­pion of the lit­tle guy who talks with com­pas­sion about the poor and who re­fuses to get into the gut­ter.

But the two are the yin and yang of out­landish pol­icy pro­pos­als. Both men — and to a great ex­tent Ted Cruz, too — have grounded their plat­forms in fan­tasy.

Trump talks about de­port­ing all 11 mil­lion il­le­gal im­mi­grants — and yet, con­tra­dic­to­rily, about seiz­ing the re­mit­tances these im­mi­grants send home so he can force Mex­ico to pay for a bor­der wall. He says he’ll elim­i­nate the $19 tril­lion federal debt in eight years — easy peasy — a pledge The Wash­ing­ton Post’s fact checker, Glenn Kessler, calls “wildly im­pos­si­ble” and “in­sult­ing [to] the in­tel­li­gence of Amer­i­cans.”

San­ders, like Trump, would throw out all trade deals — and then rene­go­ti­ate deals only with coun­tries that have wages com­pa­ra­ble to Amer­ica’s, a pol­icy that could, Vox’s Zack Beauchamp wrote, “dev­as­tate economies in the de­vel­op­ing world.” San­ders prom­ises health care and free col­lege for all and has plans that would in­crease the size of the federal gov­ern­ment by 50 per­cent — no sweat.

Cruz agrees with Trump on de­port­ing all il­le­gal im­mi­grants. For good mea­sure, he vows to elim­i­nate the IRS and to gut the federal in­come tax, then have an as­tro­nom­i­cal in­crease in mil­i­tary spend­ing.

This pres­i­den­tial race is typ­i­cally cast in con­ven­tional terms: Democrats vs. Repub­li­cans. But it might be bet­ter cast as the re­spon­si­ble vs. the reck­less. The reck­less — Repub­li­cans Trump and Cruz and Demo­crat San­ders — are ex­cit­ing vot­ers by promis­ing things that will never hap­pen. The re­spon­si­ble — Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton and Repub­li­can John Ka­sich — are fail­ing to fire up the masses be­cause they are ac­knowl­edg­ing the lim­its of the real world.

This is cor­ro­sive. The pie-in-the-sky pro­pos­als from Trump, San­ders and Cruz build up un­re­al­is­tic hopes among their fol­low­ers — and will fuel cyn­i­cism when those hopes, in­evitably, are not met.

I asked Maya MacGuineas, head of the non­par­ti­san Com­mit­tee for a Re­spon­si­ble Federal Bud­get, to rank the can­di­dates in terms of ir­re­spon­si­bil­ity. Trump was tops, with San­ders and Cruz com­pet­ing for sec­ond place. The San­ders pro­pos­als would in­crease federal spend­ing most, but in sec­ond and third place on that mea­sure are Trump and Cruz be­cause their huge tax cuts would cause the debt to soar. Clin­ton and Ka­sich would grow gov­ern­ment least.

MacGuineas’ group cal­cu­lates that San­ders would in­crease gov­ern­ment spend­ing to unimag­in­able lev­els: to as much as 35 per­cent of gross do­mes­tic prod­uct, from the cur­rent 22 per­cent. His ini­tia­tives would cost up to $28 tril­lion, and even af­ter mas­sive tax in­creases would add as much as $15 tril­lion to the na­tional debt.

Trump, too, would in­crease the na­tional debt over a decade by as much as $15 tril­lion more than un­der cur­rent law be­cause he doesn’t pay for the tax cuts he en­vi­sions. To pay for those, spend­ing would need to be cut by as much as 80 per­cent. Among Trump’s ris­i­ble pro­pos­als to cut costs: He claims he would save $300 bil­lion a year from re­duc­ing waste in a pre­scrip­tion-drug pro­gram, but the en­tire pro­gram costs only a third that much. To pay down the debt over eight years, with­out cut­ting So­cial Se­cu­rity, he would have to cut gov­ern­ment by 93 per­cent.

Then there’s Cruz, who would in­crease the debt over the decade by an ad­di­tional $12.5 tril­lion above cur­rent poli­cies, though MacGuineas’ group says the num­ber could go as high as $21 tril­lion.

Clin­ton and Ka­sich, by com­par­i­son, are “very fis­cally re­spon­si­ble,” MacGuineas said. Cruz and Trump are “out­landish in the amount of rev­enue they’re talk­ing about cut­ting,” while San­ders talks about “grow­ing gov­ern­ment by 50 per­cent with­out a penny for the debt. That’s not only un­re­al­is­tic, that’s dan­ger­ous.”

These pro­pos­als aren’t dan­ger­ous be­cause they might hap­pen; they can’t. They’re dan­ger­ous be­cause sup­port­ers of these three men, be­liev­ing these fan­tasies mas­querad­ing as poli­cies, are headed for dis­il­lu­sion­ment. April 14 and ends April 21. Pri­mary Elec­tion Day is Tues­day, April 26. Cham­ber mem­bers be­lieve that it is each cit­i­zen’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to vote. So please vote!

Prior to cast­ing that bal­lot, the cham­ber re­spec­tively asks you to an­swer the fol­low­ing:

Which can­di­date has the best vi­sion and plan to en­sure that this county can com­pete suc­cess­fully in a chal­leng­ing eco­nomic en­vi­ron­ment?

Which can­di­date un­der­stands best that the ex­pan­sion of the in­dus­trial/ com­mer­cial tax base re­quires in­vest­ments in in­fra­struc­ture and other sup­ports that ex­pand and grow busi­nesses in Ce­cil County?

Which can­di­date un­der­stands that the back­bone of a 21st Cen­tury work­force rests on high-qual­ity learn­ing pro­vided by K-12 schools and in­sti­tu­tions of higher ed­u­ca­tion?

Which can­di­date un­der­stands that the chal­lenges pre­sented by the abuse of le­gal and il­le­gal drugs re­quires a com­pre­hen­sive plan in­clud­ing ed­u­ca­tion, pre­ven­tion, treat­ment and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion?

Which can­di­date un­der­stands best that while work­ing tire­lessly for what is best for the cit­i­zens of Ce­cil County, one must be col­lab­o­ra­tive and co­op­er­a­tive in build­ing part­ner­ships that re­sult in pro­duc­tive ac­tions?

Which can­di­date demon­strates best that while tend­ing to the present un­der­stands that the fo­cus of the county must be on the fu­ture present?

Carl Roberts is the chair­man of the Ce­cil County Cham­ber of Com­merce’s Gov­ern­ment Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.