With Tax Cuts on the Table, Once-Mighty Deficit Hawks Hardly Chirp

This month, the majority of Republicans in the House and the Senate voted to raise the debt limit without doing anything to rein in spending.

Republican lawmakers are pushing to increase military spending by tens of billions of dollars, topping even Mr. Trump’s request for a beefed-up military. Democrats are sharing in the fiscal intemperance, lining up behind a “Medicare for all” proposal despite having no definitive plan for how to pay for universal, government-provided health coverage.

And as Congress mulls large tax cuts, the tabs for Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria keep rising.

When Mr. Bush took office and pushed for a big tax cut, the fiscal outlook was strong. The Congressional Budget Office in 2001 was projecting $5.6 trillion in budget surpluses over 10 years.

Now, the budget office forecasts that deficits will total $10.1 trillion over the next decade. The deficit is expected to top $1 trillion a year in 2022 and keep growing from there. Federal debt held by the public is at the highest level since shortly after World War II, at 77 percent of the gross domestic product.

“I think the greatest threat to our nation is us,” warned Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee and a member of the Senate Budget Committee. “The way we handle our finances, we as a nation are the greatest threat to our nation. It’s not ISIS. It’s not North Korea. It’s not ascendant China. It’s not Russia. We are the greatest threat.”

But such voices are strangely quiet these days in Washington. Even Mr. Corker seems accommodating.

Last week, he reached a deal with another Republican on the budget panel, Senator Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, to allow a tax cut of up to $1.5 trillion over a decade, helping pave the way for the overhaul of the tax code that is a top goal for Mr. Trump and congressional Republicans. He did say he will not vote for a final tax plan if it would add to the deficit.


Six Charts That Help Explain the Republican Tax Plan

The proposal lowers rates for individuals and corporations but leaves key elements up to Congress.

OPEN Graphic

The mantra now is economic growth.

“Every Republican…

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