Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced last week that he will not run for reelection, but that doesn't mean he's going to start being honest on his way out the door.
Ryan appeared on NBC's Meet the Press yesterday morning where he said the swift return to trillion dollar deficits under his watch was inevitable.
"That was going to happen. The baby boomers retiring was going to do that," Ryan said on NBC's "Meet the Press" of projections that the country will start running trillion-dollar deficits as soon as 2020. [...]
"These deficit trillion-dollar projections have been out there for a long, long time. Why? Because of mandatory spending which we call entitlements," he said when pressed by NBC host Chuck Todd on [Senator Bob Corker's] criticism.
It is true that some projections say the federal deficit would have grown to a trillion dollars in 2020 under previous policy, but that doesn't make it "inevitable."
What absolutely made it "inevitable" was Paul Ryan's tax cuts. The federal deficit is projected to reach at least $1 trillion in fiscal 2019, meaning Trump and Ryan's tax cuts have moved the dated forward by a full year. It's only going to get worse moving forward as retirements and the GOP's tax cuts hit at the same time.
All of this could have been avoided by raising taxes on the rich by a few percentage points, not cutting their taxes by 20 to 30 percent, and that's exactly what will have to happen in the near future.
The alternative to tax hikes will be political poison and you might say it already is. If Republicans couldn't fully repeal Obamacare and dramatically cut social programs while they controlled the entire government, it's not going to happen in a divided government or with slimmer majorities.
Raising taxes also won't be politically easy, but I think Republicans have unintentionally provided Democrats with a safe frame of attack. Procedural constraints forced Republicans to engineer their tax cuts so that cuts for families would expire, but Democrats can call for extending those while raising taxes on the rich. President Obama made the same move in 2011 and it resulted in cutting the deficit by half without making dramatic spending cuts. President Obama left behind a stable economy and fiscal outlook that Republicans threatened within a year.