Many pundits covering the 2016 presidential race have expended much energy writing and speaking about the differences between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on virtually every issue. And while it’s true the two candidates disagree on some issues, such as how high to build trade barriers between Americans and foreign individuals, the respective partisans backing Clinton and Trump have more in common than either tribe may want to acknowledge.
For example, in a September 7 speech to the Union League of Philadelphia, Trump pledged to force lawmakers to repeal parts of the Budget Control Act of 2013, a bipartisan bill signed into law by President Barack Obama.
The Budget Control Act, also referred to as “sequestration” or “the sequester,” capped total federal government spending at just over $1 trillion and removed requirements for about $63 billion, effectively delaying deeper cuts to the gap between spending and revenue for later years.
In 2013, Trump supported bringing relief to taxpayers by requiring the government to spend less, telling former Fox News host Greta Van Susteren, “If you’re going to balance budgets, you’re going to be doing a lot more cutting, and there’s no question about it. Everybody knows it: The president knows it, Congress knows it, and this is just the beginning.”
Over the last three years, Trump went from arguing our children and grandchildren will be “the biggest losers … unless we do something” about government spending to actively opposing the very thing he warned against in the past.
During the recent Union League speech, Trump extended his big-government policy platform another notch and promised to promote more spending. “As soon as I take office, I will ask Congress to fully eliminate the defense sequester and will submit a new budget to rebuild our military,” Trump said. “This will increase certainty in the defense community as to funding and will allow military leaders to plan for our future defense needs.”
It seems candidate Trump and Clinton agree that more government is the answer to nearly every question. In August, Clinton also called for removing limitations on government spending, and she did so for the same reasons Trump gave in Philadelphia.
Speaking at a convention held by the American Legion, a national wartime veterans service organization, Clinton also promised to repeal sequestration. “You’ve heard of the sequester, the arbitrary caps that Congress has imposed on our entire government for the past several years,” Clinton said. “The sequester makes our country less secure.”
Government agencies of all missions and types have complained for more than 50 years about across-the-board spending cuts, and the sky has yet to fall. In fact, the amount of taxpayer money spent by the government on the military has skyrocketed. According to the Department of Defense, the federal government has increased spending on the military by 36 percent since 2000, contradicting the claim made by politicians the military has been forced into poverty by what Trump once called “over-exaggerated” rhetoric.
In 2013, before presidential politics got in the way of common sense, Trump warned Americans about the danger of growing government spending: “Eventually, you’re going to have a big, fat explosion, and it’s all going to come to an end.”
Sequestration, although difficult to explain to populist masses, was a good first step toward taming the government Leviathan. Instead of taking the easy way out and heeding the call to ratchet up government spending, lawmakers should resist the urge to spend more of other people’s money and should instead force government — all branches and agencies — to reduce spending and restore fiscal sanity.