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Remember the days, not all that long ago, when we were told the Democrats were irresponsible spendthrifts and their polices would surely bankrupt the country if Republicans weren't elected to rein them in?

If one goes back and takes a look at which administrations actually added to the enormous national debt, they will find the claims that the GOP was fiscally prudent is an out-and-out myth. Several Republican presidents, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush in particular, pushed the debt to new heights. Bush's tax cuts and wars combined to push the debt higher, even though he had inherited a balanced budget from the Democrat Bill Clinton years.

To be fair, Democrat Barack Obama's first term in office saw the debt skyrocket as well, but let's remember the deficit spending was in response to the Great Recession and a need to save the country from falling into a 1930s-style depression.

That isn't the case today. The economy has been soaring since Obama's second term in office, but still Republican officeholders keep adding to the pool of red ink.

Huge tax cuts for corporations and high-income individuals have severely reduced the country's revenues. And, as predicted, the suddenly alarmed Republicans in Congress want to start chipping away at Social Security and Medicare to stop the bleeding — the classic example of the poor bailing out the rich.

Yet Donald Trump wastes money like there's no problem. Some $30 million to send troops to the Mexican border to counter a bogus "invasion" of immigrants seeking asylum and threats to shut down the government if tens of millions more aren't earmarked for a completely unnecessary "beautiful" wall, just for starters.

But it's more than Trump and his enablers in Congress. Here in Wisconsin, Republicans have been lavishing millions on unnecessary spending. How about the legal bills to defend their gerrymandered redistricting that might still be declared unconstitutional? How about the millions more in court cases over the vote-suppressing voter ID? Those two years-long court cases might have fixed a road or two.

The foolishness isn't ending, though, even though a Democrat has been elected governor. Now the GOP is considering spending $6 million or so to move the date of the 2020 Wisconsin presidential primary so that it isn't held at the same time right-wing Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly is up for election.

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Rather than making Kelly run at a time when the Democratic vote might be high, legislators are planning to throw away several millions of taxpayer dollars to give their judicial favorite a leg up.

This is the kind of financial stewardship we're getting from the party that proclaims it guards the taxpayers' dollars. That's never been the case and, obviously, it still isn't.

Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. dzweifel@madison.com608-252-6410 and on Twitter @DaveZweifel.  

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