Editorial: Former Nevada senator discovers national debt

Now safely ensconced in retirement for two years, former Nevada Democratic Sen. Harry Reid has suddenly discovered the country is spending more money than it reaps in taxes, driving up the national debt.

“We have a president who seems not to care about the debt,” Reid told Sam Shad on the “Nevada Newsmakers” program late this past month, adding, “We are already past the tipping point.”

Reid said he likes Republican President Trump, who raised money for his election campaigns back when he was a registered Democrat, but does not think he has been a very good president. With the national debt now standing at $22.5 trillion, Reid called that “one of the biggest problems facing the country.”

Never mind that in 1982 when he was first elected to the House of Representatives the national debt was $1.1 trillion, 34 percent of the gross domestic product. In 1986, when he was elected to his first term in the Senate the debt was $2.1 trillion, 46 percent of GDP. When he retired in 2017, the debt was $20.2 trillion, 103 percent of GDP.

Reid now says the problem is that the rich don’t pay enough in taxes. It is not the spending.

This past week the Treasury Department reported that for the first nine months of this fiscal year, after the Trump tax cuts, revenues increased by 3 percent due to improved economic conditions, but federal spending increased by 7 percent, partly due to interest on the debt.

Speaking of spending, even though Social Security now accounts for nearly a quarter of federal outlays, it was Sen. Reid who in 2011 led a rally with supporters waving signs reading “Back Off Social Security.”

“It’s not just an exaggeration that Social Security is headed for bankruptcy. It is an outright lie,” Reid informed his cheering minions. “Leave Social Security alone. Back off Social Security. It hasn’t contributed a penny, I repeat, to the deficit and it is in great shape for the next many decades.”

In 2015, Reid championed a spending bill that grew the national debt to $20 trillion by ending so-called sequester cuts in spending.

But now the debt is a problem. “I hate to keep saying this but it is true: When I was first elected to the House of Representatives and to the Senate and for several years after I was elected to the Senate, the No. 1 issue of the Republican Party was to lower the debt,” Reid told Shad. “We had all kinds of legislation that was passed, sequestration was established, things of that nature. … But anymore, Republicans don’t seem to give a damn about what the debt is. And, frankly, I don’t hear the Democrats raising much hell about it either, and I think that’s a mistake. I think the debt is not sustainable.”

Even though revenues have increased recently, Reid’s answer to ongoing deficits and mounting debt is to tax the rich and ignore the profligate spending.

“The only way we can do this is we have to have more income,” Reid said. “And where is that income going to come from? It can only come from rich people. The middle class, they are not going to be paying amounts of money that make up for what rich people are making. The rich are gonna have to bear the burden and they should.”

We and others of our ilk have replied to this perennial Democratic solution of redistributionism by saying, “It’s the spending, stupid.”

A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

Sam Shad and Harry Reid

7 comments on “Editorial: Former Nevada senator discovers national debt

  1. Anonymous says:

    It’s not aurprising that far right wingers want to talk about former democratic leaders and their views on stuff.

    Otherwise, what are they gonna do? Talk about how the orange stain says the debt limit is sacred? I mean the raw stupidity of the right right? They kept chanting, during both terms while Obama was president how we can’t just keep raising the debt limit and then if course used that to stop the president from making the country better than it was all so they could score political points with their minions.

    Shoot, their current overlord was right at the tip of the spear, callng for national riots if the debt limit was increased so as to improve the economy and the country. Musta forgot about that amidst all the talk of sending darker colored American citizens back to their homes in…well, America I guess.

    But what of the “integrity” preached on these pages? I sort of remember through the haze commentary here bout how we shouldn’t just be increasing the debt limit leastways so long as a democratic president was in office but now….columns about (former) Senate Majority Leader Reid?

    You guys man.

  2. Anonymous says:


    Good one Thomas.

  3. Rincon says:

    For those of you who actually want to know the truth, it’s NOT the spending. As a percentage of GDP (and not counting SS & Medicare, which are their own separate problems) we are spending LESS than we did in 1960 – that is, if you can believe the White House Web site. Whitehouse.gov-historicaltables Table 14.5

    So if we’re spending less, then where did the deficit come from? Good question. The answer is at the same Web site, table 2.1. In 1960, 43% of federal income was from excise and corporate taxes; in 2018, it was only 13%.. We reduced these taxes while spending the same amounts. This also proves pretty conclusively that tax cuts DON’T pay for themselves. We’ve had massive tax cuts since 1960, and have a monstrous deficit to show for it. Unfortunately, Conservatives have duped the entire country. Almost everyone thinks the government spends way more than it used to. That just isn’t so.

    Go ahead. Someone show me where I’m wrong. In all truth, if I’m mistaken, I want to know.

  4. Rincon says:

    BTW, when you say he started it, are you referring to Reid or Obama? Either way, I think the primary blame has to be assigned to Reagan, who almost tripled the debt in only 8 years, and popularized the myth that tax cuts pay for themselves..

  5. Anonymous says:

    Rincon you’re not wrong.

    But you are falling victim to the tactics used by the cigarette companies and the fossil fuel industry to sow just enough doubt, in just enough people’s minds, to say that “there’s no consensus” so they can just keep doing what they’re doing in peace.

    Which is to screw you and me.

  6. Rincon says:

    There’s an awful lot of silence around here… You think they found out I’m right? Future posts will tell the story.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s