Washington: President-elect Donald Trump promises big tax cuts, a border wall and massive spending on infrastructure.
That’s a recipe for bigger deficits that fiscally minded conservative Republicans have railed against during President Barack Obama’s tenure.
Trump’s agenda runs counter to years of promises by congressional Republicans to try to balance the federal budget.
It’s a marriage of conflicting priorities on the budget at least and that means that neither partner will get everything their own way.
Trump’s tax cut, estimated to cost almost USD 5 trillion over 10 years, looks sure to be pared way back. Top lawmakers like House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, and No 3 Senate Republican John Thune of South Dakota say the GOP’s tax plans shouldn’t add to the deficit. That would mean tax rates couldn’t be cut nearly as sharply as Trump wants.
“We know we’re going to have to pay for this,” said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the No 2 Senate Republican. “The question is whether we do it now or whether we send it to our kids and grandkids and make them pay for it. So that’s an important point that we need to achieve some consensus on.”
On the spending side of the ledger, Trump’s promises of a huge infrastructure plan are already running into difficulty with Republicans.
“We are not going to vote for anything that increases the national debt,” said Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho. “Fiscal conservatives in the House are not going to support anything that is not paid for.”
Asked during an interview with The New York Times about possible pushback by GOP leaders on his costly infrastructure goals, Trump said, “Right now, they’re in love with me,” according to a tweet by Times reporter Maggie Haberman.
The flip side involves longstanding promises by Capitol Hill Republicans to balance the budget by repealing the Affordable Care Act, sharply cutting social programs like Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and student loan subsidies.
Trump promises to replace the so-called “Obamacare” and assured voters during the campaign that he wouldn’t cut Social Security and Medicare and he’s on record as saying that 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s choice of now-Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis, “was the end of the campaign.”
“I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding’ because he represented cutting entitlements, etc., etc. The only one that’s not going to cut is me,” Trump said at a February campaign stop.
Major reforms require presidential leadership – and as a candidate Trump didn’t show much interest in attacking the budget.
“It’s clear that deficits and spending retrenchment and entitlement reform was not what this election was about,” said Neil Bradley, a former top House GOP aide who is skeptical of the party’s ability to deliver major spending cuts.