Columns

Congressman Warns GOP: Raising the Deficit Under Trump Would be ‘Dangerous’

WASHINGTON – Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) urged the Republican Party, which will control the House, Senate and White House next year, not to pass bills that would increase the deficit.

“The fair question, though, is will the deficit increase under Trump vs. Obama and if we gain all three levers, if we have the House, the Senate and the White House and the first thing we do is increase the deficit, then I think that’s a very dangerous thing, especially for our conservative base,” Massie warned during a “Conversations with Conservatives” event last week on Capitol Hill.

In October, the deficit increased to $587 billion.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, agreed with Massie’s assessment.

“I would just add when it comes to the debt ceiling, the debt ceiling should follow that same logic. I’m willing to increase the debt ceiling if we are putting in place structural changes that actually get to the problem. In fact, we had a plan that, I think this whole group supported just a few years ago: Cut, Cap and Balance, which did just that and we all voted to increase the debt ceiling if that went in place. That has to be the mindset when we move forward when you have a $20 trillion debt,” he said.

Massie said the “million dollar question is will we rush to increase spending before he [Trump] gets here?”

“Is this going to happen in the lame duck session?” he continued. “That’s what concerns me is if within four weeks of taking all three levels we go full-speed ahead and go through the budget caps with some kind of supplemental, which I think is disingenuous, whatever you call the budget gimmick, that would be a very, very dangerous thing to sort of clean the barn for him by spending more money before he gets here.”

Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) called on the next Congress to write “clear” and “precise” legislative language so the federal agencies are not able to implement as many rules and regulations.

“We just need to write better laws. We are so lazy sometimes in the way that we write legislation that we say ‘the executive shall do this’ and we allow the executive to write all the regulations on what this means,” he said. “And I’ve seen many bills that are one or two lines that just says the executive shall do X but the HHS secretary will determine what X is. Let’s start writing clear, precise legislation that tells the administration what exactly we want them to do, and then we will prevent the conflicts that we have.”

Labrador told the audience that most of the problems he encountered as a member of the Executive Overreach Committee entailed Congress passing bills that were “so unclear” that the White House had “free leeway of doing whatever they want under whatever they interpret.”

“So let’s start being a little less lazy and actually write clear precise legislation, which is our duty and our constitutional responsibility,” he said.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) emphasized that the American people did not “sit down” together and decide to elect Republicans to Congress but instead voted for Donald Trump, who brought “a lot” of other Republicans along with him.

“Donald Trump and the American people understand it is a bipartisan swamp, and here both parties point at each other and say ‘you are part of the swamp.’ But I’m encouraged, if it’s true, about Donald Trump’s transition team saying ‘if you are a lobbyist we might not have you on this transition team.’ We’ve got to have outsiders,” he said. “The American people said we are fed up with Washington of both parties and it just so happened Donald Trump was a Republican and pulled these other folks forward. You’ve still got to drain that swamp and it is a bipartisan problem.”