Republicans used to be the party of fiscal responsibility. Today, their versions of “free stuff” take the form of unsustainable budget deficits, fiscally irresponsible tax cuts, excessive defense spending, and low-interest money from the Federal Reserve. The late Peter G. Peterson, commerce secretary under President Nixon and co-founder of the Blackstone Group (the world’s largest private equity firm), spent decades speaking and writing about the need for fiscal restraint and responsibility. Peterson also established the Concord Coalition and the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, both of which favor reducing our deficits and national debt. He would be appalled at today’s bipartisan irresponsibility, especially among Republicans.
As the promises continue in the run-up to November 2020, let’s hope that our traditional American pragmatism raises three important questions: (1) before spending more, shouldn’t we first determine how to spend better, (2) won’t spending better require significant structural reforms before we talk about making some programs “free,” and (3) just how much more can we run up our national debt before jeopardizing our currency and our economic security?