Budget Battle

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., left, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walk to the chamber after collaborating on an agreement in the Senate on a two-year, almost $400 billion budget deal that would provide Pentagon and domestic programs with huge spending increases, at the Capitol in Washington on Wednesday.

J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press

The Republicans got their military spending.

The Democrats got their domestic spending.

And future generations of Americans will get the bill.

That’s the result of last week’s irresponsible budget agreement in Washington that weakens our nation’s already shaky finances.

President Donald Trump, who didn’t mention America’s soaring debt during his recent State of the Union speech, signed a $400 billion spending bill Friday. In doing so, he ended the second government shutdown in as many months but also set our nation on a course for trillion-dollar annual deficits.

And all of that borrowing will pile up on what is already $20 trillion in federal debt, with an additional $10 trillion expected to be added to that total over the next decade.

The spending bill Trump signed Friday followed a tax cut last month that most economists agree will require still more borrowing and higher interest payments, despite a strong economy.

It’s more of the same from a president and Congress who are continuing Washington’s careless path — only a year after claiming they had arrived to change it.

Half of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation went along with the latest spending spree, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, and Reps. Glenn Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, Sean Duffy, R-Wausau, and Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay.

Trump, Ryan and other Republican supporters of the bill claimed they were restoring the military. But America already spends more than twice as much on its armed forces as China and Russia combined. Our leaders should require the military to prioritize its massive budget in strategic ways, rather than throwing hundreds of billions of more dollars at the Pentagon.

We understand that parts of America need help following hurricanes and other disasters, and $89 billion in this bill goes toward relief efforts. But most of the spending went to other priorities without a credible way to pay for it.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said it best.

“I love bipartisanship,” Flake told his colleagues last week. “But the problem is the only time we discover bipartisanship is when we spend more money.”

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., briefly stalled the bill late Thursday to warn about looming debt.

“Yes, I want a strong national defense,” Paul tweeted. “I believe it’s actually the most important thing the federal government does. But you have to ask yourself whether a $20 trillion debt makes us a stronger country or a weaker country.”

It makes us weaker.

Yet Flake and Paul didn’t help matters by voting for the GOP-backed tax cut last month that was supposed to simplify the tax code, lower rates and end loopholes — without increasing the debt. Instead, it will add $1 trillion over 10 years to the debt our children and grandchildren will owe.

Sen. Paul is right that America faces a day of reckoning. The borrow, spend and tax-cut spree can’t continue indefinitely.

Wisconsin voters should prioritize fiscal responsibility when voting this fall.