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In principle, we said in a December editorial, members of our editorial board believe in lower taxes to the federal government for everyone who pays them - individuals, families, businesses - because we believe Americans should keep more of the money they earn.

However, as we said at a time when tax reform debate was under way in Congress (a tax reform package ultimately passed and was signed by President Trump), we weren't convinced necessary congressional spending restraint and reform of entitlements would follow a reduction in taxes. In other words, we were concerned about trillions of dollars in additional federal debt.

The budget agreement reached by Congress and signed on Friday by the president is what we feared.

The $1.3 trillion bill, which funds the federal government through the balance of this fiscal year, increases defense and nondefense domestic spending and adds to federal debt in a year when that debt is expected to exceed $21 trillion.

"Congress and President Trump seem to have abandoned all sense of fiscal responsibility in recent months, passing bills first to cut taxes and now to dramatically increase both defense and domestic spending -- all of which will require more federal borrowing," Robert L. Bixby, executive director of The Concord Coalition, said in reaction.

A nonpartisan, grassroots organization formed in 1992 and dedicated to fiscal responsibility, Concord works to educate the public about the causes and consequences of federal deficits and debt and to develop solutions for sustainable budgets.

"Rather than working to put the budget on a sustainable path, Trump and Congress are making things worse," Bixby said. "The national debt is already quite high by historical levels and rising rapidly. The deficit-financed tax cuts that were approved in December will add at least $1 trillion to that debt, and perhaps much more.

"Now elected officials have approved an $80 billion increase over previously authorized levels in defense spending and a $63 billion increase in domestic spending. Instead of setting priorities and making difficult choices, lawmakers reached a bipartisan agreement to simply borrow and spend. The combination of tax cuts and spending increases will likely lead to the return of trillion-dollar deficits in the next fiscal year and beyond, despite a growing economy."

Bixby also took aim at the process used to pass this 2,232-page monstrosity.

"The new legislation also illustrates how badly the federal budget process is broken," he said. "Congress should have sent a dozen separate, carefully considered spending bills to the White House last summer and early fall. Instead, lawmakers after fiscal 2018 began relied on a series of stop-gap measures, threats and deadline brinkmanship. Half the fiscal year is already over."

We join Concord in those criticisms. 

A future of more deficits and rising debt isn't sustainable. Fiscally speaking, debt eventually will crush the country. At some point, the federal government must get serious about it. Right?

Apparently, however, our "leaders" in Washington do not think they have reached that point yet.

To this, we ask: If not today, then when?


Opinion editor

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