Commentary: After tackling tax reform, now Republicans should tackle spending

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Now that Republicans have accomplished the remarkable feat of passing consequential tax reform in one of the most divided political environments of our nation's history, they should immediately switch their focus to spending reform.

Most importantly because we need it. Desperately.

Our nation adds hundreds of billions of dollars to our more than $21 trillion national debt every year. There is plenty of fat in the federal budget to trim.

But a side benefit to this shift in focus would be to put Democrats on the spot when it comes to their rhetoric about the debt.

When liberal politicians like Sen. Heidi Heitkamp were looking for political cover to oppose a tax bill which will lower tax burdens for 8 in 10 Americans next year (according to reporting from The Washington Post, that right-wing rag) they seized on the debt issue.

To hear them tell it, the tax bill will add between $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion to the national debt over the next 10 years.

This is a nonsensical prognostication. It's based on a static analysis which doesn't account for new revenues related to economic growth stimulated by this tax reform. The nonpartisan Tax Foundation, using a dynamic analysis, concluded that the tax bill will add a far more palatable $448 billion to the national debt over ten years.

Though given all the variables which impact our economy from shifts in public policy to natural disasters, the idea that we can accurately forecast future deficits with this level of precision is some rotten baloney.

Still, the debt talking point has been a potent one for Democrats, but now Republicans should make our liberal friends lay down in the rhetorical bed they've made for themselves.

If Democrats want to get serious about the national debt, then let's talk about spending. Let's talk about all the ways we could make the federal government less of a burden to taxpayers.

I suspect, in that debate, our liberal friends will abandon any pretense of concern for the national debt.

Proving they only care about the debt when the issue at hand is letting most of us keep more of our own money.

All of this assumes that Republicans are capable of getting serious about spending reform in the first place.

While Democrats usually don't bother with even the pretense of concern about deficits and debt (except in the context of lowering taxes), Republicans usually pay only lip service to the issue.

They talk a big game, but only rarely back it up with action.

Right now is a golden opportunity for real spending reform, given that it's both needed and politically advantageous. All that's needed is some gumption from Republicans.

Maybe Santa Claus will leave them some under their Christmas trees.