NOTHSTINE: The depressing part of Trumps agenda

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers his first address to a joint session of Congress from the floor of the House of Representatives iin Washington

If this nation ever needed just one more law, it would be a requirement to display the federal debt clock during a president’s joint session address to Congress.Instead, most every modern president uses that grand stage to announce lavish giveaways. This usually involves overly optimistic decrees calling for large transfers of wealth from the productive segments of society to the far less productive. Bill Clinton, more frugal by today’s standards, was well known for listing out line by line virtually every new program and initiative. A scrolling debt clock plastered across the screen might not dissuade the more brazen profligate spenders, but it might provide comic relief or tragic irony.Trump’s address Tuesday no doubt raised his political stock, but it was yet another reminder he needs to be desperately challenged on federal spending and the debt crisis. To his credit — sort of —Trump at least mentioned the debt explosion under his predecessor. “In the last eight years, the past administration has put on more new debt than nearly all other presidents combined,” Trump declared. Still, besting Obama’s irresponsibility on that issue is the lowest of bars. Early in his presidency, Obama liked to say “the debt keeps him up at night,” so it’s unclear how doubling it alleviated his insomnia.The new president asked Congress for $1 trillion for infrastructure spending. In comparison, Obama’s stimulus boondoggle was $831 billion. Trump asked too for a much-needed increase in Veterans Affairs spending but tacked on massive increases for defense appropriations as well. The proposed “great, great wall” sounds pricier than merely a “great wall.” Trump is in favor of tax cuts as well, but more protectionist-minded trade policies may curve the rate of economic growth going forward, making it even harder to slow down a debt which is about to surpass $20 trillion.While he campaigned against changes to costly entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, a president must close the leadership deficit by reforming those costly programs.The federal deficit will balloon to over $400 billion in 2018 and will only continue to surge without real spending reform. The status quo means increased wealth confiscation through taxes, decreasing entitlements, diminishing liberties, and possibly future cultural unrest.It’s time to find out if citizens in North Carolina can count on Mark Meadows and the Freedom Caucus. They have been the biggest proponents of fiscal responsibility and we should soon find out if they are worth their salt. Paul Ryan is known as a budget hawk in theory only, having done little in his leadership role as speaker to stem the spending debacle.For many, Trump’s joint address to Congress on Tuesday made his presidency a reality. Yet a large segment of the left still refuses to engage the substance of his policies, entrapped by endless bickering over his persona and rhetoric. This leaves true limited-government conservatives with the opportunity to drive the discussion and convince Trump and the nation that kicking the can down the road is no longer an option.
Ray Nothstine is a member of the North State Journal’s editorial board, separate from the news staff. Unlike other newspapers, the North State Journal does not publish unsigned editorials; the author or authors of every editorial, letter, op-ed, and column is prominently displayed. To submit a letter or op-ed, see our submission guidelines.