GOP blasts 'out-of-control' spending while demanding permanent tax cuts for the rich

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Republicans in the Senate want to permanently extend parts of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017.

Senate Republicans unanimously voted on Friday to make Donald Trump's tax cuts for the wealthy permanent. Such a move would significantly increase the national debt, which the GOP has repeatedly claimed is a top concern.

On Thursday night and Friday morning, the Senate voted on dozens of proposed changes to the budget resolution that will allow an up-or-down vote on President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill. One amendment, offered by Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), aimed to put the Senate on record in support of permanently extending parts of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017.

That law, which slashed tax rates for big corporations and the very wealthy but raised taxes for 10 million American families, already increased the national debt by an estimated $1 trillion to $2 trillion over 10 years. Making the temporary provisions — mostly relating to individual rates — of the law permanent would further increase its cost.

All 50 Senate Republicans voted for the proposal, but it failed due to united Democratic opposition.

The move comes as GOP senators, who embraced big spending and reduced revenue under Donald Trump, have suddenly returned to worrying about the growing national debt since Biden's November victory.

"If we keep the Senate — which I think we will — and I become budget chairman, I'd like to create a dialogue about how can we finally begin to address the debt," Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told Roll Call in November, before Democrats won narrow control of the Senate.

"We MUST address our $27T debt and rein in out-of-control spending," tweeted Florida Sen. Rick Scott on Wednesday. 

"I will oppose this new debt," Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky warned in December, explaining his opposition to a compromise stimulus bill, "and I will continue to sound the alarm until we change our course here in Congress."

This week, nine GOP senators introduced a constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget — while simultaneously making it nearly impossible to fund even current levels of spending by requiring a supermajority in the House and Senate to ever increase revenue.

"Families in Nebraska and across the country have to make difficult decisions about their own budgets, and it is far past time for Congress to do the same," Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) said Wednesday, explaining her support for the idea.

While extending Trump's tax law would benefit the wealthy, many of the same Republicans supporting it have opposed a proposal to undo a provision of the law that increased the tax burden on Americans who pay higher state and local taxes (known as the SALT deduction cap), claiming that would be a "giveaway" to the rich.

Senate Minority Whip John Thune said Tuesday that such relief would be "a tax giveaway to high-income taxpayers in high-tax states."

The national debt increased by $7.8 trillion under Trump, despite his promises to balance the budget and to "fairly quickly" pay off all of the existing debt.

While some of the increase stemmed from measures to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, even before that Trump and the GOP Senate majority added trillions to the nation's debt.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.