A major clash of differing philosophies within the Republican Party over the federal budget appears inevitable as President Donald Trump prepares his spending requests, Politico reports.
The GOP's doctrine of fiscal discipline seems certain to face off against Trump's plans for a $1 trillion investment in infrastructure, a significant boost in military spending, and building a wall along the Mexican border.
The showdown seems even more likely when Trump's intentions of a tax cut are factored in, as well as his stated refusal to make reforms to cut back on expensive entitlements.
"I don't think you can do infrastructure, raise defense spending, do a tax cut, keep Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security just as they are, and balance the budget. It's just not possible," said Republican Rep. Tom Cole, who is a senior member of the House Budget Committee. "Sooner or later, they're going to come to grips with it because the numbers force you to."
Trump's backers in Congress, however, say the president should be allowed leeway in fulfilling the vision he laid out to the voters.
"If there is a temporary increase in the deficit to get our economy growing, I think my fellow Republican members are willing to look at the long game," said Rep. Chris Collins. "A growing economy and growing our way to success and financial stability is what we want to see."
A potential flashpoint for the battle between Trump's big spending populism and the classic small-government conservatives might occur if the president's new spending plans are not offset by cuts, which would mean the House would have to pass legislation to raise spending caps that have been there for years.
Such a scenario is almost certain to generate fierce opposition from those who have long been preaching the importance of reducing the national debt.
"We would have several people opposed to" lifting the caps, said Freedom Caucus Member Raúl Labrador. "I am a fiscal conservative, and the biggest issue we're facing in America right now is our debt. As Republicans, we better be consistent on this or we're going to lose our base."
The New Yorker pointed out that the type of cuts the Trump administration has been talking about, mainly slashing the budgets of executive departments and payrolls, as well as reductions in discretionary spending, won't nearly be enough to balance the budget.
This is because discretionary spending totals just $1.2 trillion a year out of a budget of almost four trillion, with about half of that going to defense, which Trump intends to increase.
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