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GOP deserts its budget-cutting mantra 4 GROWING Federal debt. . . *PIC*

Posted By: LongGone
Date: Sunday - October 8,2017 09:07

(WashPost) The Republican Party has largely abandoned its platform of fiscal restraint, pivoting sharply in a way that could add trillions of dollars in federal debt over the next decade.

Cutting spending to balance the budget was almost religion to the Republican Party for much of the past eight years. But all year long, despite their control of the White House and Congress, Republicans have not taken steps to balance the budget, to overhaul entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, or to arrest the growth of the country’s $20 trillion in debt.

With the House passing a critical budget resolution this past week, GOP lawmakers are charging forward next week with plans to cut taxes in a way that could add more than $1.5 trillion to the government’s debt over 10 years, with the goal of legislation by early next month. That is on top of an effort to significantly increase military spending. White House officials say their focus is on growing the economy now and dealing with the debt later.

The moves come as the federal deficit, the difference between what the government earns in revenue and spends on programs, is growing more quickly. It will be $600 billion this year and is projected to reach $1.46 trillion in a decade, even without additional policy actions.

“I felt there was a period, two or three years ago, when there was a real seriousness about trying to solve our fiscal issues,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), a longtime deficit hawk who is part of a scarce group of Republicans consistently preaching restraint. “When the election result turned out what it was [in November], any thought of fiscal responsibility has gone out the window.”

He added, “It’s very disheartening to me that when the other side of the aisle was in charge we cared about fiscal issues, and now that we’re in charge we don’t care about fiscal issues. It’s very disheartening.”

Republicans initially tried but failed to cut spending this year, stymied by intraparty divisions they could not rectify.

They could not unify behind an effort to slash the growth of Medicaid, a joint state and federal health-care program for low-income Americans. And Democrats unified to block other proposed spending cuts to programs for the poor.

Congress also twice agreed to raise the debt ceiling without putting any new restraints on spending.

Three devastating hurricanes in August and September ravaged Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, prompting emergency steps to seek $40 billion in new spending. A storm landing this weekend, Hurricane Nate, could create new spending pressure. In the past, some Republicans have sought to offset disaster relief spending with cuts in other areas, but no such demands were made this time.

Meanwhile, Trump rejected a proposal from White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney to curb future Medicare and Social Security spending, saying he had promised voters in 2016 that he would not touch those programs.

But the most striking blow to the deficit isn’t what Republicans have failed to do, but the changes they are mulling.

Mulvaney — who was a leading deficit hawk when he served in the House of Representatives — and other White House officials are pushing hard for the tax-cut package, shrugging off the worry of growing the deficit in the next few years by saying that letting people keep their own money is much different than cutting government spending.

Mulvaney, like many in the White House, argues that the focus should be on taking steps to grow the economy, which officials say will create trillions of dollars in new revenue to offset the impact of lowering tax rates.

He said in an interview that the White House offered more than 50 areas in which specific spending programs could be cut from the budget earlier this year and that Congress only agreed to four or five of them. He said that the last time the budget was balanced, late in the Clinton administration, it was done through a combination of spending restraint and economic growth, a model the Trump White House wanted to follow.

“I have to work in the real world, and right now I just don’t think there’s the appetite to balance the budget based on spending alone,” Mulvaney said.

He added that if the House of Representatives wanted to pass a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution, “that’s great. But I don’t think they can do that. I have to live in a world where we can pass cuts out of the House and of the Senate. And so growth is going to be the best chance we have to balance the budget.”

Mulvaney’s more pragmatic approach marks a major evolution. Six years earlier, during a fight over whether to raise the debt ceiling, Mulvaney picked up a Bible and read a verse from Proverbs 22 to colleagues: “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”

Corker said Mulvaney’s transformation from a budget warrior to allowing larger deficits is emblematic of others in the party.

“My gosh, this was a guy that had very much of the same feelings that I had about these issues, and obviously he’s ended up being in a different place,” Corker said.


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