Elephant in the Room

What do you do when you sign up to attend a political event for either party? Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, you get the main issues you’d expect.

You also realize, just like a family member, you will not hear about shortcomings. By the time the speeches were done, it was obvious for all the success this administration has had economically, there are a few issues we have forgotten about; national debt, budget deficit, and trade deficit.

I won’t bore you with that yet though. Because one more thing to expect in these situations is to witness the magnitude of power in a room. And one-by-one, the who’s who of South Carolina Republican politics streamed into the Columbia Convention Center for the Aug. 2 Silver Elephant dinner.

Some were VIPs networking or schmoozing with former and current elected leaders. Others were there for various other reasons. All came to celebrate the South Carolina Republican Party which has become somewhat of a powerhouse in D.C. We boast the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Lindsey Graham, and acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney. Former Gov. Mark Sanford and current Gov. Henry McMaster were also in attendance.

The trio of speakers of Graham, McMaster, and Mulvaney all hit points important to almost every part of the GOP — military, conservative judges, religion, less government, etc.

Graham defended President Donald Trump from his critics — something even his staunchest supporters have a hard time doing sometimes. But he really boasted about not just the president’s accomplishments, especially his judicial nominations, but acknowledged for the first time in a while he has a credible Democratic challenger.

McMaster scattered in his trademark humor, but focused on the religious segment of the party. Specifically, the right to life and freedom of religion — not just freedom to choose a religion, but the freedom to pray wherever one wants.

But it wasn’t until Mulvaney, the keynote speaker, got on stage that I really started thinking about the evening’s main topics. You see, Mulvaney has done a brilliant job climbing through the ranks from the local to federal level to now arguably one of the most important jobs he’s had, acting White House chief of staff. This guy is very smart and astute.

Here’s the thing, I’m a staunch fiscal conservative. So when Mulvaney stopped with the slideshow of jokes about how no one in D.C. recognizes him, even the media, he touched on this administration’s economic accomplishments.

There is absolutely no denying we have a thriving economy.

Except, it’s a very vulnerable economy, susceptible to perhaps the biggest financial downturn in our history. A few weeks ago I went to a “Pints and Politics” event for Mark Sanford at Container Bar. It was the same day the new budget was passed by the House of Representatives, a budget which removes the debt ceilings Republicans put on former President Barack Obama’s budget. Not only that, but this administration will officially be outspending Obama. If you’re a conservative, let that sink in. Because as Sanford said, had this budget passed under a Democrat, us Republicans would have been up in arms over it.

That other family member that no one wants to talk about is the $22 trillion national debt, which is growing faster than before — no doubt this budget will increase that even more.

Let’s put it this way, as Sanford and previously many Republicans said, by some estimates, a child born in America today will have to pay an 80 percent tax rate by the time they have to pay taxes just to cover our expenses.

To say that we as a nation are throwing caution to the wind is an understatement, because if you look at the nightmare scenarios at usdebtclock.org, you’ll notice the interest on our debt is the fourth-largest expense, and will only grow if nothing is done.

I don’t like doom and gloom scenarios, especially after such an event to celebrate the S.C. GOP, but let’s talk about the family member with shortcomings. It’s more than a big issue, it’s yuge! Just some food for thought.

Rouzy Vafaie is a former leader of the Charleston County Republican Party.