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In our opinion: Spending bill is fiscally irresponsible

SHARE In our opinion: Spending bill is fiscally irresponsible
A copy of the $1.3 trillion spending bill is stacked on a table in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, March 23, 2018.

A copy of the $1.3 trillion spending bill is stacked on a table in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, March 23, 2018.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Associated Press

At one point Friday, President Donald Trump tweeted he might veto the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill that passed both houses of Congress on Friday. He later decided to sign it.

We understand being displeased by this bill, but Trump’s concerns missed its most grievous problem.

The president said he is upset that the bill does not solve the problem of the so-called “Dreamers,” those undocumented people brought to this country as children, and it does not include enough funding for a wall along parts of the border with Mexico.

We agree with him about the Dreamers, Americans in every sense who deserve a way to remain in the country legally. Congress needs to address their needs, but a court order has kept the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in place for the time being.

But the biggest problem is that this bill takes the nation one more giant step toward insolvency.

All four of Utah’s representatives in the House and Sen. Mike Lee voted against this bill — a 2,232-page monstrosity containing endless giveaways, the entirety of which no elected official has read. Regardless of their various individual reasons, they should be commended. The bill is fiscally irresponsible.

In the past, we have consistently urged both parties to compromise to pass a long-term spending bill, but we envisioned a solution that would make each side a little unhappy as it ratcheted down the annual budget deficit and slowed the growth in the national debt.

This bill, however, seems to make all sides happy, as it leads to forecasts of a return to trillion-dollar annual deficits. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., hailed the bill as good for Americans. When was the last time a liberal Democrat said that about a Republican budget bill?

The bill would add $61 billion to defense spending and increase nondefense domestic spending by 10 percent. It would provide hundreds of millions for a rail project between New York and New Jersey.

It does nothing, however, to stem the automatic growth of entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

The tax cuts Congress passed earlier this year already have pushed a frightening surge in the national debt, which has topped $21 trillion this month for the first time. It grew by $1 trillion in the last six months alone.

Here’s how it all might unravel. In some future year, the unabated growth in the federal debt could result in a large share of yearly tax revenues going to pay nothing but interest. Investors in that debt would begin to get jittery and demand higher returns.

The United States, which, like no other nation on earth, has traditionally relied on the strength of its economy and the pre-eminent position of the dollar to continue growing, would have little choice but to inflate the dollar, leading to greater pressures for higher interest rates among investors. In this downward spiral, the buying power of the American people diminishes, jobs disappear and prices rise beyond salaries. The government no longer would be able to support many programs or a strong military.

Conservatives used to understand this scenario. Now, neither major party seems to get it.