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How Trump is destroying the GOP

By Robert B. Reich, Tribune Content Agency on

America has never before had a president as deeply unpopular at this stage of his presidency, or one who has sucked up more political oxygen. This isn't good news for the Republican Party this November or in the future, because the GOP has sold its soul to Donald Trump.

Three principles once gave the GOP its identity and mission: Shrink the deficit, defend states' rights, and be tough on Russia.

Now, after a year with the raving man-child who now occupies the White House, the Republican Party has taken a giant U-turn. Budget deficits are dandy, states' rights are obsolete, and Russian aggression is no big deal.

By embracing a man whose only principles are winning and getting even, the Republican Party no longer stands for anything other than Trump.

Start with fiscal responsibility.

When George W. Bush took office in 2001, the Congressional Budget Office projected a $5.6 trillion budget surplus over the next 10 years. Yet even this propitious outlook didn't stop several Republicans from arguing against the Bush tax cut out of concern that it would increase the nation's debt.

 

A few years later, congressional Republicans were apoplectic about Obama's spending plan, necessitated by the 2008 financial crisis. Almost every Republican in Congress opposed Obama's plan. They argued it would dangerously increase in the federal debt.

"Yesterday the Senate cast one of the most expensive votes in history," intoned Sen. Mitch McConnell. "Americans are wondering how we're going to pay for all this." Paul Ryan warned that the nation was "heading for a debt crisis."

Now, with America's debt at the highest level since shortly after World War II (77 percent of GDP), Trump and the GOP have enacted a tax law that by their own estimates will increase the debt by at least $1.5 trillion over the decade.

What happened to fiscal responsibility? McConnell, Ryan and the rest of the GOP have gone mum about it. Politics came first: They and Trump had to enact the big tax cut in order to reward their wealthy patrons.

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