$22 trillion and rising:
The debt figure has been accelerating since the passage of Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax cut in December 2017 and action by Congress last year to increase spending on domestic and military programs.
The national debt is the total of the annual budget deficits. The Congressional Budget Office projects that this year’s deficit will be $897 billion — a 15.1 percent increase over last year’s imbalance of $779 billion. In the coming years, the CBO forecasts that the deficit will keep rising, top $1 trillion annually beginning in 2022 and never drop below $1 trillion through 2029
The key thing to understand here is that this isn’t a bug in Republican politics but a feature. They know that tax cuts will run up debt, no matter what their rhetoric about cuts paying for themselves might be. They know it and they embrace it, because they know that when Democrats are eventually back in power, they can use the deficits to block Democratic spending priorities. They’ve done this one-two going on forty years now, and they won’t stop until and unless they’re made to.
From their perspective, both taxes and spending are problems to be solved through cuts. That’s first principles for them. Deficits, however, are a second order problem, one that only gets attention when in service to first principles. I know this seems maddeningly inconsistent from outside that worldview, but I promise you that in the inside it really doesn’t look or feel contradictory at all.
One of the most clever bits of Reagan’s coalition building was getting the deficit hawks and defense hawks into alignment. If all spending is bad except defense spending, then you’ve really put Democrats in a box, because Democrats like defense spending too. When they’re in power, they can’t offer to increase domestic spending by cutting defense spending. They want both! Which leaves only the option of raids on taxes to pay for new spending priorities, and THAT is a much harder sell.