Budget plan's $1 trillion deficit sours some Republicans - Tucson News Now

Budget plan's $1 trillion deficit sours some Republicans

By KEVIN FREKING and MATTHEW DALY
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - Republicans rode the tea party wave to power eight years ago on a message of fiscal responsibility and attacking budget deficits, and kept at it during President Barack Obama's two terms. That was then.

The Republican-led Congress on Thursday was rounding up support for a bipartisan budget bill that would put the government on track for annual deficits topping $1 trillion, a gap last seen toward the end of Obama's first term.

The projection for massive budget deficits has split Republicans. Dedicated fiscal conservatives criticized the plan while others accepted it as a necessary compromise to shore up military spending and keep the government running after a short-lived shutdown last month.

"I think the spending in this is reckless and irresponsible," said Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., a conservative who is backed by the tea party.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said the budget agreement was "doubling down on the irresponsible mentality in Congress of spend now, pay later. To say I am discouraged by the outcome of these negotiations would be an understatement."

Corker voted for the recent Republican tax cut after raising similar concerns in the weeks leading up to the vote.

Republicans are pinning their long-term hopes on their $1.5 trillion tax cut, which they say eventually will stimulate enough economic growth to help reduce the deficit. GOP leaders were using that argument and a desire to boost military spending to sell the budget plan. Congress needs to approve a spending bill by midnight Thursday to avoid a partial government shutdown.

Many in the GOP ranks were willing to sign on despite the soaring deficit.

"It all comes down to one thing - economic growth. That's where you take care of the debt and deficit," said Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla.

Republicans supporting the package include defense hawks who say military readiness has been harmed by years of automatic budget cuts known as sequestration. The budget bill boosts defense spending by $165 billion over two years.

"If you vote no, you're voting against fixing the military," said Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

Conservative angst about the growing deficit was valid, he said, "but you are not going to fix them by cutting our military or by failing to provide the equipment that our troops need."

Other lawmakers cited the need to keep the government running and boost domestic spending on infrastructure and programs such as community health centers. The budget plan also was drawing support from Republicans representing states that would benefit from $89 billion in aid to speed recovery from last year's hurricanes and wildfires.

Still, some Republican lawmakers and conservative activists worried that the deal reinforces the notion that congressional Republicans are not delivering on their promises to slash spending and reduce the size of government.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, said during a lengthy speech on the Senate floor that it was hypocritical for members of his party to criticize trillion dollar deficits under Obama, "and now Republicans are doing the same thing."

Jason Pye, vice president of legislative affairs at Freedom Works, a conservative group that helped launch the tea party movement, said Republicans are retreating on their deficit-reduction message. The House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservatives that grew out of the tea party, denounced the deal for growing the size of government.

"The only folks who should be voting for this are the debt junkies, who love unsustainable spending bills," said Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., a freedom caucus member.

A leader of the GOP's fiscal conservatives, Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina, said he understands the frustration.

"You can make a case that it seems to be a little hypocritical because we ranted and raged during the eight years of Obama about the national debt," said Walker, who said he will vote against the budget bill. "If it's truly our core principle, it should be equal whoever is in the White House."

___

Follow Daly at https://twitter.com/MatthewDalyWDC and Freking at https://twitter.com/APkfreking

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Government shutdown endNational politicsMore>>

  • Trump fumes about Russia investigation as nation mourns

    Trump fumes about Russia investigation as nation mourns

    Sunday, February 18 2018 8:30 AM EST2018-02-18 13:30:36 GMT
    Sunday, February 18 2018 10:16 PM EST2018-02-19 03:16:05 GMT
    President Donald Trump is blasting the FBI, asking why they didn't investigate an Obama-era payment to Iran.
    President Donald Trump is blasting the FBI, asking why they didn't investigate an Obama-era payment to Iran.
  • The Latest: 13 Russians accused of plot to disrupt election

    The Latest: 13 Russians accused of plot to disrupt election

    Friday, February 16 2018 2:03 PM EST2018-02-16 19:03:02 GMT
    Sunday, February 18 2018 10:11 PM EST2018-02-19 03:11:33 GMT
    In this June 21, 2017, file photo, special counsel Robert Mueller departs after a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington. A grand jury in the Russia probe issued indictments on Friday. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)In this June 21, 2017, file photo, special counsel Robert Mueller departs after a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington. A grand jury in the Russia probe issued indictments on Friday. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

    Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein says the goal of 13 Russians and three Russian entities charged Friday was "spreading distrust" of 2016 candidates and the political system.

    Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein says the goal of 13 Russians and three Russian entities charged Friday was "spreading distrust" of 2016 candidates and the political system.

  • Trump criticizes FBI over handling of shooting suspect tip

    Trump criticizes FBI over handling of shooting suspect tip

    Sunday, February 18 2018 12:00 AM EST2018-02-18 05:00:33 GMT
    Sunday, February 18 2018 9:53 PM EST2018-02-19 02:53:07 GMT

    President Donald Trump is criticizing the FBI over its handling of a tip on the suspect in the Florida school shooting, says bureau spending too much time on Russia probe.

    President Donald Trump is criticizing the FBI over its handling of a tip on the suspect in the Florida school shooting, says bureau spending too much time on Russia probe.

Powered by Frankly