Author: John Pickerill
Publication: Pueblo Chieftain
After his first year in office, President Donald Trump gave his first State of the Union address, summarizing his administration’s list of accomplishments and his wish list for Congress for the year to come. He touted 2.4 million jobs created, increasing wages, a 45-year low in unemployment claims, small business confidence at an all-time high and a record-breaking stock market.
These are all wonderful things, of course. And while the Republican Party takes credit and the Democratic Party concentrates all efforts on opposing anything Trump does, no matter what, I would like to offer a more sober, nonpartisan response to the State of the Union address. First and foremost is this: The successes that Mr. Trump pointed out are not due to government, but instead getting government out of the way, even just a little bit.
The tax reform passed by Congress was a wonderful start. And if everything that Mr. Trump claimed comes true, it is something that everyone can be happy about: The average American’s tax bill going down by $2,000, average family income increasing by $4,000, small businesses spending money on hiring more employees instead of taxes, fewer regulations and more living freely. Let the good times roll for everyone!
The problem is this illusion of prosperity by the Trump administration is not built on sound economic principles. It’s a simple problem of math. If you cut taxes but don’t cut government spending at the same time, you run out of money. Simple as that. In other words, to make up the shortfall, the United States government either will have to borrow the money (adding to the already colossal $20 trillion debt and its equally colossal interest payment) or print the money (diluting the value of the dollar in every person’s wallet, especially the least politically connected). Eventually, we will pay the piper and this short-term prosperity will come to an end. Real wages will go back down, the poor investments businesses made in good times soon will fail, workers will get laid off. The laws of economics are as unavoidable as the law of gravity.
Not only are the president and Congress not cutting spending, but they are proposing to vastly increase it. Mr. Trump is proposing to spend $1.5 trillion on infrastructure. He’s proposing big military spending increases, despite the fact the U.S. already spends more money on the military than the rest of the world combined. As a libertarian, I applaud a strong national defense, but we already have the strongest national defense in the world by far. As a libertarian, I applaud the tax cuts, but urge the president and Congress to finish the job by cutting federal spending by the same amount. That is the key to sustained prosperity.
Even more importantly, both the Republicans and Democrats have forgotten the primary role of government — to secure the inalienable rights of the people, including the rights to life, liberty and property. Its role is not to make us “safe” at all costs. As Dwight D. Eisenhower said: “If you want total security, go to prison. There you’re fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking … is freedom.” And its role is not to be a government charity forcibly funded by the U.S. taxpayer. Government’s proper role is to mind its own business in all affairs, except for those specifically authorized by Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution and otherwise allow people to exercise their human rights any way they wish as long as they aren’t causing harm to anyone else.
John Pickerill recently relocated to Pueblo from Indiana, where he was a syndicated columnist and now contributes to The Pueblo Chieftain He advocates for individual liberties, free market economics, private property rights and constitutionally limited government.