In February 2022, the U.S. National Debt surpassed $30 trillion, dwarfing the $19 trillion debt in 2016. While Republicans and Democrats will point the finger at each other for ballooning the national debt, the reality remains that wasteful spending has become entrenched in Washington, and has now left government debt higher than annual economic output and foreshadows a need for austerity and federal belt-tightening.
While the Treasury Department has estimated the Biden Administration was able to reduce the budget deficit by $1.5 trillion, a series of executive orders alone have cost the federal government an estimated $463 billion-plus interest, slowing down budget reduction strategies and unnecessarily exacerbating the country’s poor financial health.
Such costly orders were only made public after the Ranking Member of the U.S. House Committee on the Budget, Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO), wrote to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) requesting they quantify the cost.
Unfortunately, American taxpayers will be left paying for many of the progressive policy positions these executive orders seek to advance. The cost of these executive orders, outside of the already high national debt, is estimated to cost each American an additional $1,407.
Following Executive Order 14002, which required federal agencies to “consider actions that facilitate better use of data and other means to improve access to, reduce unnecessary barriers to, and improve coordination among programs,” USDA announced it would increase the average SNAP benefit for the almost 42 million program recipients by $36.24 per month. The CBO estimated that this increase alone would cost the federal government between $250 billion and $300 billion over ten years.
In March 2020, President Trump paused student loans as the COVID-19 pandemic thrust millions into financial uncertainty. While Trump extended the pause through January 2021, the Biden Administration continually extended the pause, even after jobless numbers dropped to record lows and the economy began recovering. While Biden was not the first President to initiate a repayment pause, the CBO forecasted the most recent payment suspension, which runs from February and August 2022 and would cost the federal government $85 billion on top of the $120 billion already lost from previous pauses.
Most egregious is the fact the student loan pause was only meant to be temporary.
Aside from these executive orders, Representative Smith (R-MO) has estimated that increasing the minimum wage for federal contractors to $15 per hour would cost $7 billion, weakening work requirements for Medicaid and SNAP benefits would cost $14 billion, and providing federal benefits to immigrants over $20 billion and Obamacare expansion $34 billion.
While the increase in SNAP benefits and student loan pause are just two high-level examples of Washington’s continued reckless spending, ordinary Americans will inevitably bear the cost of increased taxes and reduced government spending in public spending. This means reduced disposable income to spend on goods and services, declining economic security, and poorer public services. Unfortunately, it seems the only way to bring the country’s financial position under control is for Congress to take a more active role in reining in spending, after all, they possess the power of the purse. While President Biden is not solely responsible for the situation, his administration has only exacerbated the problem, forcing current and future generations to pick up the tab.