Steve Forbes, the chair of Forbes Media and editor-in-chief of Forbes Magazine, argued on Monday that Republicans have an addiction to government spending nearly as severe as their Democratic colleagues.
During an interview with Fox Business anchor Stuart Varney, Forbes — who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1996 and 2000 — debunked the claim that President Joe Biden is reducing the federal budget deficit. “They are spending and because the deficit’s coming down because of inflation, kicking people into higher tax bracket, and they’re not spending quite as much as they did during the COVID lockdowns, he thinks that that makes them non-spenders,” he explained. “They are spending. The numbers are there.”
Indeed, the government is slated to collect roughly $5 trillion in nominal revenue from fiscal year 2022 — an increase from $4 trillion in fiscal year 2021, which was also a record amount, according to a recent analysis from the Tax Foundation. Federal collections are projected to reach 20.2% of gross domestic product, marking the highest level in modern history, during which collections have averaged 17.2% of economic output.
Meanwhile, the White House has repeatedly contended that its first budget proposal “cut the federal deficit” — the difference between government spending and government revenue — by $350 billion, while officials say that the second budget proposal will reduce spending by $1.3 trillion. The administration has failed to note that deficit spending reached record highs over the past two years because of stimulus packages meant to combat the economic fallout from the lockdown-induced recession.
Forbes also rebuked Republicans for claiming to be budget hawks while likewise spending irresponsibly — albeit to a less severe degree than their political rivals. “Their only virtue is saying, ‘We’re not as big of spenders as the Democrats.’ They’re still sinful, small sins, but they’re still sinning,” he argued. “That’s why I think the American people want a real change after November… when pork is in the air, the smell entices even supposedly conservative Republicans.”
Although President Barack Obama maintained budget deficits as large as $1.4 trillion during his first term, President Donald Trump ran a deficit nearing $1 trillion in 2019 — the year before the deficit surged to $3.1 trillion as a result of stimulus spending, according to data from the Office of Management and Budget. The national debt reached nearly $30.6 trillion by the second quarter of 2022, according to data from the Treasury Department.
Forbes noted that the CHIPS Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law could not have passed without support from Republican lawmakers. The former package spent $52.7 billion to subsidize computer chip production and combat supply-driven inflationary pressures, while the latter spent $1.2 trillion on new infrastructure projects — including initiatives for electric vehicles, clean energy, urban transport, and public railways.
After two months in office, Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which included $1,400 relief payments for those who met the qualifications and an extension of $300 weekly enhanced federal unemployment insurance. Though evidence suggests that the unemployment handouts worsened labor shortages and therefore contributed to higher inflation, Biden claimed that the bill “took America from an economic crisis to an economic recovery.”