Reid has suddenly discovered federal debt

By Thomas Mitchell
Harry never did a flip that he couldn’t flop.
Back in 2015 Nevada Democratic senior Sen. Harry Reid, having already announced his retirement, championed and regaled a spending bill that made no pretense of trying to rein in deficit spending that would soon balloon the federal debt past $20 trillion — a bill that blew the top off budget caps and gave President Obama a blank check.
Reid was effusive in his praise of the bill: The bipartisan budget agreement passed today will help prevent a government shutdown and avoid a disastrous default on our nation’s obligations. It also will prevent a drastic cut to Social Security disability benefits, and a massive increase in Medicare premiums. This agreement is not perfect, no legislation is, but it accomplishes two major priorities that Democrats have supported from the very beginning. The budget agreement promotes economic growth and job creation over the next two years by providing relief from the devastating sequester cuts. It also invests equally in both the middle class and the Pentagon.
Republican Sen. Dean Heller offered a different take, “This latest budget agreement is not a long term plan or solution the American people deserve. This plan will force Congress to revisit this same exact issue in a short amount of time. It’s past time Washington addresses the needs of the people of this nation instead of continuing to punt to the next big deadline.”
Republican Rep. Cresent Hardy, like Heller, noted that the bill simply kicks the can down the road. “Our nation’s financial security is nearing a breaking point that we ignore at the endangerment of our future. Today’s so-called ‘Bipartisan Budget Act’ breaks current spending caps by $80 billion and does nothing to rein in long-term spending. Washington needs to take a long look in the mirror and make some difficult decisions based in reality,” he said.
Republican Rep. Joe Heck said in his statement that “this budget bill suspends the debt limit, giving the President a blank check until 2017, without making the significant reforms necessary to reduce spending and address the major drivers of our nearly $18.5 trillion debt.”
But now that he has retired, according to an editorial in the Las Vegas newspaper, Reid is singing a different tune. “This may sound weird coming from a Democrat,” the editorial quotes Reid as saying this past month at a UNLV symposium. “I think we’re at a tipping point … driving ourselves into bankruptcy,” adding that the federal deficit is “going to bury us.”
The editorial helpfully points out that when Reid was elected to Congress in 1982, the national debt stood at $1.14 trillion, 34 percent of gross domestic product. When he retired in 2016, the national debt was $20.2 trillion, 103 percent of GDP. It also noted that the chief drivers of the debt are entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which now amount to more than half of federal spending.
Back in 2011, Reid scoffed at the impact Social Security was having on the debt. “It’s not just an exaggeration that Social Security is headed for bankruptcy. It is an outright lie. …” Reid proclaimed in speech.
“Leave Social Security alone. Back off Social Security. It hasn’t contributed a penny, I repeat, to the deficit and it is in great shape for the next many decades.”
Speaking of flip-flops, this was the same Harry Reid who in 1990 called the spending of the Social Security trust fund money on day-to-day expenses embezzlement, “During the period of growth we have had … the growth has been from two sources: One, a large credit card with no limits on it, and, two, we have been stealing money from the Social Security recipients of this country. …
“Maybe what we should do in conjunction with the president to really carry this conspiracy to its appropriate end, is rather than having it called the Social Security trust fund, why do we not change it and call it the ‘Social Security slush fund?’”
Social Security is expected to run out of money in 2036 and Medicare by 2026. Now the deficit is a problem, Harry?

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