As U.S. budget fight looms, Republicans flip their fiscal script

FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Capitol Dome building in Washington
FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Capitol Dome (L) building is pictured in Washington, DC, U.S. on October 4, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

December 31, 2017

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The head of a conservative Republican faction in the U.S. Congress, who voted this month for a huge expansion of the national debt to pay for tax cuts, called himself a “fiscal conservative” on Sunday and urged budget restraint in 2018.

In keeping with a sharp pivot under way among Republicans, U.S. Representative Mark Meadows, speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” drew a hard line on federal spending, which lawmakers are bracing to do battle over in January.

When they return from the holidays on Wednesday, lawmakers will begin trying to pass a federal budget in a fight likely to be linked to other issues, such as immigration policy, even as the November congressional election campaigns approach in which Republicans will seek to keep control of Congress.

President Donald Trump and his Republicans want a big budget increase in military spending, while Democrats also want proportional increases for non-defense “discretionary” spending on programs that support education, scientific research, infrastructure, public health and environmental protection.

“The (Trump) administration has already been willing to say: ‘We’re going to increase non-defense discretionary spending … by about 7 percent,'” Meadows, chairman of the small but influential House Freedom Caucus, said on the program.

“Now, Democrats are saying that’s not enough, we need to give the government a pay raise of 10 to 11 percent. For a fiscal conservative, I don’t see where the rationale is. … Eventually you run out of other people’s money,” he said.

Meadows was among Republicans who voted in late December for their party’s debt-financed tax overhaul, which is expected to balloon the federal budget deficit and add about $1.5 trillion over 10 years to the $20 trillion national debt.

“It’s interesting to hear Mark talk about fiscal responsibility,” Democratic U.S. Representative Joseph Crowley said on CBS.

Crowley said the Republican tax bill would require the United States to borrow $1.5 trillion, to be paid off by future generations, to finance tax cuts for corporations and the rich.

“This is one of the least … fiscally responsible bills we’ve ever seen passed in the history of the House of Representatives. I think we’re going to be paying for this for many, many years to come,” Crowley said.

Republicans insist the tax package, the biggest U.S. tax overhaul in more than 30 years, will boost the economy and job growth.

‘ENTITLEMENT REFORM’

House Speaker Paul Ryan, who also supported the tax bill, recently went further than Meadows, making clear in a radio interview that welfare or “entitlement reform,” as the party often calls it, would be a top Republican priority in 2018.

In Republican parlance, “entitlement” programs mean food stamps, housing assistance, Medicare and Medicaid health insurance for the elderly, poor and disabled, as well as other programs created by Washington to assist the needy.

Democrats seized on Ryan’s early December remarks, saying they showed Republicans would try to pay for their tax overhaul by seeking spending cuts for social programs.

But the goals of House Republicans may have to take a back seat to the Senate, where the votes of some Democrats will be needed to approve a budget and prevent a government shutdown.

Democrats will use their leverage in the Senate, which Republicans narrowly control, to defend both discretionary non-defense programs and social spending, while tackling the issue of the “Dreamers,” people brought illegally to the country as children.

Trump in September put a March 2018 expiration date on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, which protects the young immigrants from deportation and provides them with work permits.

The president has said in recent Twitter messages he wants funding for his proposed Mexican border wall and other immigration law changes in exchange for agreeing to help the Dreamers.

Representative Debbie Dingell told CBS she did not favor linking that issue to other policy objectives, such as wall funding. “We need to do DACA clean,” she said.

On Wednesday, Trump aides will meet with congressional leaders to discuss those issues. That will be followed by a weekend of strategy sessions for Trump and Republican leaders on Jan. 6 and 7, the White House said.

Trump was also scheduled to meet on Sunday with Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott, who wants more emergency aid. The House has passed an $81 billion aid package after hurricanes in Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico, and wildfires in California. The package far exceeded the $44 billion requested by the Trump administration. The Senate has not yet voted on the aid.

(Reporting by Kevin Drawbaugh; Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton in Florida; Editing by Peter Cooney)

  • BillVA

    I though the tax cuts were projected to increase the national debt by $1 trillion over 10 years.

    How can that be characterized as a “huge expansion”?
    Obama increased it by more than that EVERY SINGLE YEAR he was in office ($9 trillion over 8 years)..

  • gregg56

    The Federal Government has no business in the welfare business. It is NOT a power specifically assigned by the Constitution.

  • CDG

    Crazy idea. How about we wait a year to see if the economic growth from the tax cuts can at least balance our annual budget? It is irresponsible to increase spending of any kind as we are currently running an annual deficit.

    • gregg56

      The Democrats are counting on the entitlement vote, along with the illegal alien and dead vote, to win in November.

      • CDG

        What seems to drive every Presidential election, in recent times, is the condition of the economy. If the tax cuts work as intended even the dead voting won’t help them.

  • Christopher Binkowski

    No matter how they vote – whether good or bad – these politicians will ALL go home to warm fireplaces, full bellies, and a nice pillow.

  • constitutiononly

    Welfare in all of its nasty forms must be repealed. Medicare must be reformed so that the money is dedicated to Americans 65 and older, and to no one else. Congress must not retain the ability to shift Medicare money to their favorite welfare programs. No more Medicare piggy bank.

  • Al Lejdly

    Drug test all welfare recipients and deport all the illegals then we’ll see a big drop in the deficit. This country is so turned around bass ackwards when people paying the welfare have to be drug tested but the recipients don’t. Also, try going to some other country and demand free medical and education.

  • nfcapitalist

    Minimum annual wage for Federal workers is $100,000 so those shrimp on treadmills might actually be displaying a valuable service… have you received your nosey prying and unnecessary questionnaire from the United States Department of Commerce… filed it in the circular waste storage facility… will the swat team come to enforce Title 13, US Code, section 141.193 and 221?

    Sure, they want to know how much your household make and more then have the stones to state they will keep your information confidential… who is John Gault?

  • Perry

    Anybody know how long it would take to spend $1 trillion at the rate of $1 per second?

    • timoneten

      31,688.74 years.

      • Perry

        Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

  • KevinR.

    Democrats also want proportional increases for non-defense
    “discretionary” spending on programs that support education, scientific
    research, infrastructure, public health and environmental protection.

    The Constitution only granted few and defined enumerated powers to the government, and spending money on things not in those powers is unconstitutional and should be cut.

  • All American

    I’m sorry I don’t ever believe even 1/2 of Reuters spew⬇️

  • LP in AK

    Federal workers will get the same increase we all get: tax cuts!! The private sector hasn’t gotten increase after increase with annual COLA increases over the years. There is a HUGE disparity in wages earned by the people PAYING compared to the people being paid. Chill out public servants, if the people prosper, maybe THEN we can afford to pay our employees more!!

    • WaterIsWet

      Public servants is the perfect example of Trickle Down. Money from taxpayers trickles down to public workers. They should be paid 20% less than the same job in the private sector, with less benefits also.

  • Disgusted Caucasian

    Why is Rick Scott asking for more hurricane relief money? Florida already got their share. Most of the damage was to private property and should be paid for by the insurance of the owners…not the taxpayers. If someone under insured their properties…then tuff shitzsky.

    • nfcapitalist

      He’s not asking for money… he’s asking for ones & zeros… ious to be paid of by taxpayers , notice how suits are now nodding sagely and agreeing with each other that actual currency is causing crime and all economic exchanges should be done on the North Korea’s hackable worldwide web… ones & zeros, do you feel safer now?

  • landy fincannon

    A fiscal “conservative” voting to increase the debt ceiling. Now thats a dichotomy.

  • NotSure

    Curious to see what a budget would actually look like after operating ten years without one. Hopefully we can reign in some of this ludicrous spending. Speaking of budgets, what ever happened with talk of the Convention of the States? Is it time we start pressuring our Governors and State legislators again?

    • landy fincannon

      I’ve always been a little suspicious about the Convention of the States, especially given the fact that Soros is funding the push for one (use your search engine) .
      Nonetheless, I would suggest they add a we “mean it ” clause this time.

      • Andrew Moore8

        when you have a convention of the states you are not only opening up articles you want to amend but you are opening up ALL articles to be amended….so you might get your budget constraints but you might also get the second amendment repealed or the first amendment….a convention of the states is a double edged sword. I personally wouldn’t want a convention to convene

        • NotSure

          You have a point, I am going to have to give that a bit more thought. I know it means nothing what little ole me believes but anyways… one can write down that it would be focused, but what is written and done actually two different things. I don’t think there would be any way that the Second Amendment would be under threat, that would require thirds of the States be anti gun. defiantly there would be a concern with the first though especially with all the Fake news out there.

          • Andrew Moore8

            @notSure…please read my comment to Bill above to the two ways to change the current Constitution. My fingers are sore and I don’t want to retype it….all I can tell you is YES the second can be changed and you would be stuck with living under those terms.

          • KevinR.

            Read my reply above to Andrew and Bill

        • KevinR.

          Yet the fear is unfounded. For several reasons.
          The fact remains there is a requirement to have three fourths of the states ratify any amendments, and that is 38 states at this time. That is a high hurdle.
          There is also a fact that the Constitution does not grant our rights, it only guarantees our rights, and that includes the fact that the Bill of Rights does not grant our rights…. the Second Amendment does not grant our right to keep and bear arms nor does the First Amendment grant our Freedom of Speech or Freedom of Religion or our Freedom to Associate or assemble…
          The Bill of Rights was added as a compromise. The Federalists considered the Constitution to limit the government, and did not require more, and the Anti-Federalists wanted additional protections of our rights, so a compromise was made to add the Bill of Rights.

          A Convention to propose amendments is not to be feared, as long as you know what you seek. The amendments to be proposed, and once proposed and written and agreed to, to advocate for the states to ratify should be in general agreement, before ever proposing amendments, and should not be for frivolous things, even if you think they are of import.

          Term limits is not of great import, as we have term limits … called elections.
          A Balanced Budget might be of value, but that might be more of a waste of time since we might not get it ratified, and we do not know what might happen in the future that might require a budget that is not balanced, and we may not be able to trust the Congress to actually follow it….
          Returning the Senate to the states by repealing the 17th Amendment might be good, since the House represents the people and the Senate was intended to represent the interests of the state.

          It is not likely to run away, as it is still part of Article 5, and the only issue is the states petition for Congress to propose amendments. This second method provided for amendments in the Constitution requires Congress, “on the application of the legislatures of two-thirds of the several states” (presently 34), to call a convention for proposing amendments”

          • Andrew Moore8

            You are sort of correct but are wrong…In order to open a convention you need two thirds of the states to vote to even open it for change…if that were to happen then there are two ways to change the current Constitution. The first being to change and ratify the current constitution which would take a unanimous vote from all states for the completed changes…..this would be highly unlikely and could lead to succession by states which disagree with the changes….The far easier way is to ratify a completely new Constitution under the terms of the existing Constitution. This would require only a vote of two thirds of the fifty states and would not allow succession by the states…..This I think is very dangerous as the current Constitution serves us well and even opening a convention subjects us to the likely hood of a new Constitution being implemented and imposed upon the people which could eliminate any and all of the protections give us under the current Constitution..

          • KevinR.

            The first being to change and ratify the changes for the current
            constitution which would take a unanimous vote from all states for the completed changes…..this would be highly unlikely and could lead to succession by states which disagree with the changes….The far easier way is to ratify a completely new Constitution under the terms of the existing Constitution.

            You are incorrect.

            There is only ONE way to change the Constitution, and that is with an amendment….
            There are only TWO ways to call for amendments, per Article 5.

            The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it
            necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states….

            In other words…To become part of the Constitution, an amendment must be ratified by either, as determined by Congress, the legislatures of three fourths of the states or state ratifying conventions in three fourths of the states….

            Three fourths of the states, which at this time is 38, is the requirements to ratify, and this is the ONLY Constitutional way to propose amendments

            Where do you get the idea of The first being to change and ratify the changes for the current constitution which would take a unanimous vote from all states for the completed changes.. as it is totally incorrect and absurd, so it must perhaps be from incorrect and biased sources.

          • Andrew Moore8

            There are actually four ways. (1) Both houses propose an amendment with a two-thirds vote, and three-fourths of the state legislatures approve. Twenty-six of the 27 amendments were approved in this manner. (2) Both houses propose an amendment with a two-thirds vote, and three-fourths of the states approve the amendment via ratifying conventions. Only the 21st Amendment, which repealed Prohibition, was passed in this manner. (3) Two-thirds of the state legislatures call on Congress to hold a constitutional convention, and three-fourths of the state legislatures approve the amendment. (4) Two-thirds of the state legislatures call on Congress to hold a constitutional convention, and three-fourths of the states approve the amendment via ratifying conventions.

          • KevinR.

            No, there are two ways.

            The ratification can be done in two ways, but it is still one part or the Amendment process, there are two ways stated in Article 5.

            You are correct in your list of actions, not in your claim there are four ways.

            And you did claim it was to be unanimous state votes…. so it is good that you went and googled it.

        • SendThemPacking

          I am at this point agreed with you. The libs are nefarious and have legions of devious lawyers on the payroll. Funding by Soros and many more like him. A run away convention is a legit problem. Yes the states have to ratify it as safety measure but who it to say it can’t be railroaded. Look a the Judge Moore vote!

        • CCTexas

          I tend to be on your side in this discussion. The big question for me is, do the dangers outweigh the possible positives? Given the liberal mindset of lying, cheating, stealing, and destroying the American way of life, I am not so sure that getting them into a room to make such momentous decisions is a solid idea. I think we are too divided to get anything of solid worth accomplished. I fully understand the necessity of solidifying our existing freedoms, but to put them on an alter for anyone to knock down is probably a mistake. I think I prefer another method.

          • Andrew Moore8

            CC….there are two ways to change the existing Constitution. The first is to open a convention with two thirds of the states voting to do so….Then you move on to the changes….The first way is to change the existing Constitution. In order to do this there must be a unanimous vote from all states. If certain states don’t agree with the changes and don’t vote then they are free to succeed from the union under these changes. The far easier way is to propose a new Constitution under the terms of the old Constitution. This would require only a vote by two thirds of the states to ratify and would not allow the states which disagree and not vote succeed….You as a citizen would be required to live under this new Constitution…..DO YOU REALLY TRUST YOUR CURRENT GOVERNMENT ENOUGH TO GIVE THEM THE GO AHEAD FOR THIS?…..I know I don’t.

          • CCTexas

            Then the hoped for dream would be that Texas would NOT vote for ANY amendments that would change the Constitution. The other way would be to ensure the Liberal/Globalist Cabal would be defeated during any proposed New Constitution under the terms of the old Constitution. The problem will always be the Liberal manner of lying and cheating. There is a third way and a forth way, both of which would call for a more active change process.

        • BillVA

          When I point that out, people tell me that there is a way to have focused Constitutional discussions without opening up the entire thing.

          I’m not certain I agree with them.

          • Andrew Moore8

            You are correct Bill….changing the current Constitution can only be done in one of two ways….Changing the current constitution which would require a unanimous vote from each and every state which would be highly unlikely as the liberal states would want changes which the conservative states would not….This type of change would allow for succession of the states which do not agree with nor vote for the changes to the existing Constitution which you and I know the government isn’t going to let happen….however, the easier and better way for the government to change the Constitution is to vote in a new Constitution under the terms of the old constitution to replace itself. To do this they would only need two thirds of the states to vote for it and it would not allow for the succession of the states if they did not agree with it…..Like I said before….very dangerous to open the Constitution for amendment….You might not like what comes out from behind the closed doors.

          • KevinR.

            See my reply to Andrew above….

            There is only two ways to propose amendments, and once proposed… they must be ratified by three fourths of the states…. which at this time is 38…. and not a unanimous vote of those involved… and there is nothing that allows for a total and complete re-write, or that would allow the Constitution to be undone and replaced….it is to propose amendments.

            If you fear a complete new government and a complete new Constitution or some other governing document being written, that is a fear without any validity.

          • Andrew Moore8

            Like I said before……There are actually four ways. (1) Both houses propose an amendment with a two-thirds vote, and three-fourths of the state legislatures approve. Twenty-six of the 27 amendments were approved in this manner. (2) Both houses propose an amendment with a two-thirds vote, and three-fourths of the states approve the amendment via ratifying conventions. Only the 21st Amendment, which repealed Prohibition, was passed in this manner. (3) Two-thirds of the state legislatures call on Congress to hold a constitutional convention, and three-fourths of the state legislatures approve the amendment. (4) Two-thirds of the state legislatures call on Congress to hold a constitutional convention, and three-fourths of the states approve the amendment via ratifying conventions.

      • NotSure

        I have not heard that is was supported by Soro’s that is enough to make me cringe. Even if that were true, which I will be researching in the upcoming day or two, I dont see how it could go bad as it is the Governors and/or State Legislators that chose the delegates. As far as a “mean it” clause, I do not think that is necessary as from my understanding Congress has no requirement to balance a budget. Definitately should have Congressional funding shut off or other serious repercussions for Congress though not to pass a balanced budget.

        • nfcapitalist

          ANTIFA and North Korean hackers agree that America should abandon all hope and pass another law that all debt be handled on the web with ones & zeros… that logo on their flag says DESTROY CAPITALISM… could be a connection, who was John Gault?

        • landy fincannon

          I would direct you to William Benson and his research on the 16th amendment.

          He spent a year visiting every state capital and found the 16th had been altered in some form, from spelling , capitalization, or punctuation.

          You can read more about his ten year struggle with IRS at The Law That Never Was.

      • KevinR.

        See reply to Andrew Moore8

        • landy fincannon

          Are you familiar with with William Benson and his research on the 16th amendment?

          • KevinR.

            Yes, and I have done my own research on the ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment, and the calls of discrepancies… and the claims have not held up.

          • landy fincannon

            Have read about Joe Banisters stance and why he took it?

          • KevinR.

            Yes, I have reviewed it, not in great detail…

            He was charged with conspiracy to defraud, and he lost his license to practice….
            I stand firm on the Constitution, and constantly state, No Law can Supersede the Constitution… however, there is insufficient evidence to support the 16th is not valid.

    • All American

      There ya go👍🏻