I promise I’ll get to why Obama was better at business than Trump, but first let’s remember a story you probably know well. It’s called: “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” In that old fable credited to Aesop, a boy repeatedly sounds the alarm to alert his neighbors about a terrible danger—that wolves have set upon his flock of sheep. After a few false alarms, the townspeople ignore Peter the next time he ‘cries wolf’, and then his sheep are eaten (in some versions Peter serves as dessert for the wolves as well). According to Aesop, the moral is: “this shows how liars are rewarded: even if they tell the truth, no one believes them.”
I doubt I’m the only one to think of that story in light of the utterly indefensible, yet utterly unsurprising hypocrisy of congressional Republicans when it comes to what they once, with a straight face, referred to as ‘fiscal responsibility.’ Paul Krugman exposed this hypocrisy in excruciating detail in his article, entitled “Fraudulence of the Fiscal Hawks.” Krugman cites a 2011 document authored by then-House Budget Chair and now Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, that sounded a klaxon-like alarm about impending danger: “The United States is facing a crushing burden of debt” that will “capsize” our economy—and, he claimed, it wouldn’t take long.
The danger was so, well, dangerous, that House Republicans at that time threatened to default on our nation’s debt—and plunge the economy into actual chaos not soon but immediately—if we didn’t impose harsh, deep spending cuts. “WOLF! WOLF! WOLF!” is essentially what Paul, our modern-day Peter, shouted back then. Today, he, along with the Republican-led Senate and a Republican president, just passed a tax plan—whose benefits go overwhelmingly to the financial elites—and a budget plan that, by next year, will bring us right back to deficits about as big as they were in 2011.
Furthermore, if the provisions of the Republican rich man’s tax cut are extended—as its proponents have promised—these policies will bring our national debt, as a share of Gross Domestic Product, close to levels not seen since we had to fight for our survival in World War II.