Maine Rep. Jared Golden has joined Substack, an online publishing service he says he’ll now use to communicate with constituents via a blog called, “Dear Mainer“.
With his first blog post, Golden covered the topic of the U.S. national debt, which stands at nearly $32 trillion, and how Congress could potentially reduce the federal deficit in the short-term.
Golden proposes a two-year spending freeze, the cancellation of President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan, a crack down on COVID-19 program fraud, an increase in the corporate tax rate, an expanded surtax on corporate stock buybacks, and an increase in the top marginal income tax rate for individuals.
In the post, Golden says these steps would amount a $500 billion reduction in federal deficit spending.
Golden proposes these changes be incorporated into a two-year budget deal that keeps spending for fiscal year 2024 at 2022 levels plus an adjustment for inflation, then freezes spending at that level for fiscal year 2025.
Underscoring the scale of the debt and deficit problems, Golden notes that, absent some drastic changes, “30 years from now, interest payments on the debt will be the single largest government expense – more than Social Security, Medicare, or defense.”
Golden assesses the politics of the current debt-ceiling debate as follows:
“The President’s strategy is to enter into a standoff believing enough Republicans will cave under pressure. If they don’t blink and the nation defaults, Democrats’ condemnations of the GOP are unlikely to resonate with a public that is suffering the consequences of default. This would be an abject failure, and neither Congress nor the White House would escape blame. Even a near default can hurt the economy, as the country learned in 2011 when Congress almost failed to raise the debt ceiling and America’s credit rating was downgraded.”
Golden accuses both House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and President Joe Biden of playing politics with an issue that threatens to undermine America’s economy and creditworthiness, positioning his proposals as a potential middle path between parties.
For the long term budget problem, Golden grabs ahold of the third rail of American politics: entitlement reform.
Golden acknowledges that programs like Medicare and Social Security (he doesn’t mention Medicaid) are the primary drivers of U.S. federal spending. More than that, he acknowledges the reality that those programs are headed for insolvency — a rare thing for a politician in the Democratic Party.
“Even if the economy grows faster than it has in recent decades, stabilizing the debt will require policy decisions that affect not only discretionary spending, but also mandatory spending programs like Medicare and Social Security. Even the slightest suggestion of reforms for these programs sets off a firestorm of finger-pointing and recriminations. It is, however, important to know that the Medicare and Social Security trust funds are both headed for insolvency within the next decade.”
You can find Golden’s blog here.