GOP ‘deficit hawks’ have gone ‘out the window’ as pro-Trump Republicans sign off on $1.4 trillion funding deal: 'It’s depressing, isn't it?'
When Barack Obama was president of the United States, countless Republicans — especially those in the Tea Party — denounced him as a tax-and-spend Democrat and complained bitterly about the United States’ federal deficit. But most GOP “deficit hawks” haven’t been nearly as hawkish with either Obama’s predecessor, President George W. Bush, or his successor, President Donald Trump. And journalist Robert Costa, in a report for the Washington Post published on December 19, analyzes how much the federal deficit has grown under Trump and how his Republican supporters are going along with it.
Prior to adjourning for the year, Costa notes, most Senate Republicans are “slated to approve a $1.4 trillion funding deal embraced by President Trump that will push deficits to record levels” — including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. One of the few Republicans in the Senate who is openly critical of the deal is Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, who told the Washington Post, “It’s depressing, isn’t it? There are a lot of Republican colleagues who like to spend money.”
The spending deal, according to Costa, underscores the GOP’s “near-total capitulation to Trump” and is quite a contrast to its “dramatic fiscal standoffs with President Barack Obama.” Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington State told the Post, “The budget deficits hawks? That went out the window with the tax cuts they passed last time around. They use the budget deficit as a political sword when they’re in the minority, but it disappears when they’re in the majority.”
Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, however, defended the spending deal, describing it as “the art of what is timely and possible” and telling the Post, “When you’re trying to count votes and get something done, you become pragmatic.”
Costa notes that according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the deal could increase the federal deficit by over $500 billion over the next decade.
One right-wing congressman who isn’t shy about attacking Trump and his allies over the federal deficit is Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan. The former Republican, who left the GOP in July and voted to impeach Trump on Wednesday, tweeted that “conservatives will someday face the horrible truth” about Trump and have to admit that he gave them “bigger government and erosion of the principles and values they once claimed to cherish.”
Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, whose 2020 GOP presidential primary challenge to Trump didn’t get very far, is speaking out about the federal deficit as well. Sanford told the Post, “It’s pretty tragic: the president is leading us in the wrong direction, and that was the premise for my short-lived campaign. I thought there was still a market for conservatism that would go after the debt and deficits.”