Demise of the Deficit Hawks

by Robert VerBruggen

Joe Lawler has the story:

On Thursday, the official congressional score of the bill found that it would add $1 trillion in new debt over 10 years, even accounting for the additional economic growth it would spur.

A drama then unfolded on the Senate floor when Tennessee Republican Bob Corker balked at voting to add that much to the federal debt. Before that score was released, he had been working to include a “debt trigger” in the bill that would automatically shrink the tax cuts if the deficit rose more than projected.  . . . 

By Friday morning, Republicans were prepared to proceed without any trigger — and without Corker’s vote, if necessary.

“I always wanted to be able to have a safety net. If you’re going to walk across a highwire you may be skilled and you may be able to do it, but it sure is nice to have a net under you,” said James Lankford of Oklahoma, one of the “deficit hawks” who’d previously worked toward the trigger with Corker. “We’re going to walk without the net at this point.”

Texas conservative Ted Cruz said Republicans debated Thursday whether to include any trigger or additional revenues in the bill, and that his view against doing so prevailed.

“The consensus was that we shouldn’t be raising taxes, and the Republican conference coalesced behind that position,” he told reporters at the Capitol Friday.

Republicans decided to dismiss the JCT’s score entirely. Lankford now says it won’t “be hard to hit” the growth needed to offset the cuts.

“Outside estimates from the Tax Foundation and the Tax Policy Center,” Lawler notes, “also concluded that the tax overhaul would increase economic growth, but not enough to fully offset the tax cuts.”

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