Gary Horton | Political Season Reminder: It’s the Math, Stupid

Gary Horton

The season for political advertising and mailbox overloading has begun! Here we go again with all the fliers, post cards, and URGENT-labeled letters.

One recently caught my attention. Mike Garcia is running for our 25th District on the Republican side of the madness of all this. I got his flier last week and it’s a standout.

To his credit, Mike Garcia puts his campaign platform right front and center:

He’ll make the Trump tax breaks permanent. Make ’em stick, no matter what.  

And these are the tax breaks that has America running a permanent trillion-dollar annual deficit. Has America digging its own grave bigger and faster than ever in history. Companies are getting rich. The rich are getting rich. Yet, the country itself is broke and getting “broker” — spending $1 trillion more each year than it takes in. 

How would this work in your household?

Garcia says, “The $22 trillion in debt is unsustainable and will be back-breaking in the long run.” 

But he also says the nation has a “spending problem,” not a tax problem.  And that, “Our first priority must always be our national security.” 

The Garcia ruse is actually the issue of our age: No politician is willing to speak the real truth about America’s tax and deficit problem. 

Not Garcia, not anyone.

It’s as simple as the adage: “You can’t have your cake and eat it, too.” 

You can’t have giveaway tax cuts for the wealthy, boost military spending to ever-higher heights, and then throw your hands up over the resulting shortfall, blaming “spending.”

This does not take a crystal ball.

Sooner or later, we have to pay the piper. America has to come clean and tax and spend as we can actually afford. We’ve done it under Clinton. We were getting close with Obama. And now with the Trump tax cuts we’ve got a trillion-dollar-a-year runaway train…

Mike Garcia and every serious candidate knows the real story:

Our total national budget is $3.6 trillion. Mandatory spending is $2.45 trillion of that and consists almost completely of Social Security, Medicare, and veterans’ benefits. Benefits paid for by workers their entire lives. Benefits Americans depend on. 

You can’t touch this stuff. We already bought it.

Congress allocates the remaining $1.1 trillion. Military consumes $650 billion of this, with the balance spent on health, education, veterans, transportation, science, government and such. This smaller portion of our budget is the “quality of life” stuff that helps a great nation – be great.

The math is simple. America spends $3.7 trillion but takes in only $2.7 trillion. We’re $1 trillion in the hole. 

Every year.

But Mike Garcia wants to “make the Trump tax cuts permanent.” And he says he wants to fix the deficit.

So where will Mike cut? Where would you?

Cut the tiny sliver set for roads and bridges? They’re already falling apart.  

Cut science and education? We’re already under pressure from the Chinese.

Cut veterans’ benefits? We already have thousands of homeless vets.

Cut housing, international affairs, the machinery of government? All these are just peanuts in the big budget picture.

Military spending is a juicy chunk at $650 billion – but Garcia and most Americans hold it as a sacred cow, an absolute.

So, something has to give. The truth is we have to raise sufficient money to pay for the things we want: If we want a military larger than the next 10 nations combined, we’ve got to tax ourselves to pay for it. If we want new roads and bridges and good schools and science, then we’ve got to tax ourselves to pay for it.

And, if you don’t want your Social Security and Medicare raided, we have to raise taxes. 

There. I said it. 

We’re in a hole. We have to raise taxes to pay for the things we want. We have to tax rich guys again. Tax companies more. Tax estates. We have to pull in more revenue to pay for what we want. 

It’s not politics or personal – it’s just simple math.

We can decide we want less, and that’s fine. But the math is easy: Collect more taxes or get less stuff. Less Social Security, less military, less roads and schools. 

Tax more or get less. Get used to it. Reality sooner or later comes true.

So – Mike Garcia’s platform, as is most other candidates’ – is a lie. We cannot keep Trump’s tax cuts and cut the deficit and keep our military and not raid Social Security. 

It’s the math, stupid.

Whether it’s Garcia or Christy Smith or our next president – someone with real guts is going to have to face down and force hard choices. Raise taxes, trim the military, or gut your Social Security and Medicare. 

It’s just math.

Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.

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