On occasion, Donald Trump can act Presidential. Last night’s State of the Union is the perfect example. After a year of juvenile tweets, President Trump read a well written and optimistic speech that reassured Republicans and impressed independents. The CBS snap poll conducted immediately after found 97% of Republicans approved, as did 72% of independents.
Despite the high approval from Republicans, Congressman Justin Amash noticed one major thing that President Trump forgot to mention during his more than an hour long speech.
The following is an excerpt from Justin Amash’s response to the State of the Union:
But noticeably absent from the president’s speech were items that must be at the top of the to-do list if we are to remain a country of strength, prosperity, and liberty for the American people: addressing overspending and the growing national debt.
The U.S. government is now more than $20 trillion in debt. We closed fiscal year 2017 with a $666 billion deficit—the second highest annual deficit of the last five years and a figure unheard of before the Obama stimulus. And in the coming weeks, it’s expected that both parties will vote to spend hundreds of billions of dollars more over the next two years, increasing spending by the largest amount since President Obama’s first term. These spending levels are unsustainable—no matter the president and no matter the priorities.
The success of this Congress in “building a safe, strong, and proud America” will depend not on how “well” Republicans and Democrats choose to overspend, but on whether they can resist the urge to do so.
Amash liked the SOTU speech, but what Trump forgot to say is important
The Michigan Congressman went on to highlight some of the policies that he agreed with, and also those that he did not support. But, in the end, Amash chose to reinforce the importance of focusing on cutting spending and debt:
[The American] dream will evade millions of Americans if the government continues to suppress economic growth, crowd out other priorities, and burden future generations with ever-increasing government spending, interest payments, and debt.
Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Leader—whatever else we do this year, let’s work across party lines to tackle our most pressing challenge: preserving opportunity for all Americans by budgeting responsibly and putting our government back on a sustainable fiscal path.
It should be noted that it is rare for Presidents to ever talk about spending or the debt during their State of the Union speeches. The SOTU is more than anything a policy proposal wishlist, of which a majority of the wishes are never granted. The cost of all of those political promises is almost never taken into account.
However, that does not mean that Republicans should not concern themselves with what these measures will cost. After all, they are the party of fiscal conservatism. And, more practically speaking, they are the party that badgered President Obama on exactly fiscal responsibility for eight years straight.
If Republican legislators want to be taken seriously by voters who actually do care about spending and the national debt, they need to start acting differently than free spending Democrats did during the Obama years. That includes President Trump first and foremost.
(Photo of Congressman Justin Amash speaking at the 2013 Young Americans for Liberty National Convention at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia by Gage Skidmore.)