As the nation watched the Senate Judiciary Committee meet to consider whether to rush through the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, the House Republican majority was quietly passing the Protecting Family and Small Business Tax Cuts Act of 2018 — a bill to make the Trump tax cuts for the rich permanent. According to the GOP-controlled Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Budget Office, the bill would add another $545 billion to the federal budget deficit over the next decade. This would be on top of the trillions already added to the debt by the original tax bill and the omnibus budget signed by Trump earlier this year.
The so-called “Tax Cuts 2.0” legislation was backed by 217 House Republicans and 3 Democrats. Just 10 Republicans — all from California, New Jersey, and New York, states hit hard by a provision reducing state and local tax deductions — joined 181 Democrats in opposing the measure.
A ThinkProgress review found that many of the vulnerable Republicans who voted for this latest unfunded legislation are also among those campaigning on their commitment to a balanced budget and/or a constitutional amendment to require one.
Indeed, the bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Rodney Davis (IL-13) has a whole section on his campaign website about the national debt. “Our national debt has surpassed $17 trillion, nearly $53,000 for every man, woman, and child in America. In fact recently, the CBO released a report stating without major reforms, federal debt held by the public would reach 100 percent of GDP in 2038,” he argues. “This is wrong and immoral. It undermines the dollar and our place in the global market, resulting is more economic uncertainty that the nation cannot afford. Washington should live by the same rules as every American family and that means balancing our budget and only spending what we take in.” Regardless of the merits of this anti-debt fervor, Davis has not backed it up with his own votes: he supported both the first round of tax cuts and the spending bill.
He had a lot of company.
- Rep. French Hill (AR-2). Hill says he has “co-sponsored two versions of balanced budget amendments to the U.S. Constitution to bring our spending in line,” and that, “Our children and grandchildren depend on us to solve our debt problem and give them a brighter future.” He voted for both tax cut bills and the omnibus spending bill.
- Rep. David Schweikert (AZ-6). Schweikert worries that “Our national debt is out of control,” and says, he “has also sponsored real reforms like a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution that would mandate that Congress balance the budget each year.” He voted for both tax cut bills.
- Rep. Tom McClintock (CA-4). McClintock writes that the “single greatest peril to our nation is our national debt – now exceeding $19 trillion. That debt grew by $595 billion this year – think of that as more than $4,000 added to an average family’s credit card bill.” To solve this, he says, we “need a balanced budget amendment to constrain borrowing…” He voted for both tax cut bills.
- Rep. Mimi Walters (CA-45). Walters boasts “I voted for a balanced budget resolution that forces Washington to live within its means.” She voted for both tax cut bills and the omnibus spending bill.
- Rep. Vern Buchanan (FL-16). Buchanan lists the Balanced Budget Amendment as part of his “10 point plan to create jobs and restore our economy,” arguing it would “help bring stability to our economy.” He voted for both tax cut bills and the omnibus spending bill.
- Rep. Brian Mast (FL-18). Mast, in the same paragraph, writes “We must pass a Balance Budget Amendment that will force government to live within its means,” and “The tax cuts passed have allowed you to keep more of your money, stimulated the economy, and led to more investment.” He voted for both tax cut bills.
- Rep. David Young (IA-3). Young’s“Iowa common sense” principles for “holding government accountable” include a Balanced Budget Amendment. “The concept here is simple: never spend more money than you have revenue. In Iowa, this concept is just common sense.” He voted for both tax cut bills and the omnibus spending bill.
- Rep. Jackie Walorski (IN-2). Walorski’s campaign site says : “With our national debt standing at $19 trillion and counting, Jackie firmly believes we must put an end to runaway spending in order to protect future generations and sustain a strong economy. The first piece of legislation that Jackie introduced in Congress was a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution…” She voted for both tax cut bills and the omnibus spending bill.
- Rep. Andy Barr (KY-6). Barr lists as the top examples of his “getting results” that he “Voted for H.J. Res. 2, Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution on 4/12/18,” though the effort failed by a wide margin. He voted for both tax cut bills and the omnibus spending bill.
- Rep. Bruce Poliquin (ME-2). Poliquin brags of being “a leading voice pushing a federal Balanced Budget Amendment to once and for all force Washington live within its means.” He voted for both tax cut bills and the omnibus spending bill.
- Rep. Justin Amash (MI-3). Amash claims that he “has authored one of the most thoughtful and popular balanced budget proposals of the last few decades—to combat the greatest threat to our national security: the federal government’s overspending and debt.” He voted for both tax cut bills.
- Rep. Fred Upton (MI-6). Upton says he “is a supporter of the constitutional Balanced Budget Amendment, which would require the federal government to live within its means each year, just like the rest of us.” He voted for both tax cut bills and the omnibus spending bill.
- Rep. Tim Walberg (MI-7). Beneath a quote from Walberg that the “federal government needs to live within its means,” his campaign site says says, “Tim Walberg understands the $21 trillion and climbing national debt threatens the future of our country and causes a significant portion of our federal budget to be used for simply paying interest on this debt. Tim voted for a Balanced Budget Amendment to force the federal government to live within its means, and he voted for fiscally responsible budgets that dramatically reduce the deficit and place our government on a path to long-term balance.” He voted for both tax cut bills and the omnibus spending bill.
- Rep. Claudia Tenney (NY-22). After blasting “Obama and the Washington establishment” for running up over “$18 trillion” in debt, Tenney vowed that she would “not vote for any additional spending that adds to the debt…” She voted for both tax cut bills and the omnibus spending bill.
- Rep. Steve Chabot (OH-1). Chabot writes that he has “been a consistent advocate for a balanced budget amendment to our Constitution” because he believes “the federal government should be required to operate in a fiscally responsible manner, just as most American families and small businesses do.” He voted for both tax cut bills and the omnibus spending bill.
- Rep. Troy Balderson (OH-10). Balderson says he “supports a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution forcing Washington to live within it means, just like American families. With our nation trillions of dollars in debt, it’s time Congress stop the out of control spending.” He voted for the second tax cut bill and ran in a August special election on his support for the first one.
- Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1). Fitzpatrick ‘s website says on “his first day in office, Brian Fitzpatrick proposed a comprehensive government reform plan challenging the career politicians in Washington,” including “a Balanced-Budget Amendment to our Constitution to end the limitless borrowing which is crippling our future.” He voted for both tax cut bills and the omnibus spending bill.
- Rep. Pete Sessions (TX-32). Sessions claims, “Washington has a spending problem that has placed our nation on an unsustainable path of trillion dollar deficits and a $17 trillion national debt. That is why I have consistently voted to limit federal spending, reform entitlement programs, and am a co-sponsor of a bill that calls for the passage of the balanced budget amendment. Thanks to the Republican majority in the House, we have been able to hold the line of federal spending, putting total expenditures on a slightly downward path.” (This is false.) He voted for both tax cut bills and the omnibus spending bill.
- Rep. Mia Love (UT-4). Love says she “has kept her promises to the 4th District” by cosponsoring a balanced budget amendment,“ because “deficits are now on the rise and our national debt has increased to more than $19 trillion dollars,” She voted for both tax cut bills.
- Rep. Dave Brat (VA-7). Brat says, “Our national debt has skyrocketed, reaching over $21 trillion dollars. What our leaders in Washington fail to mention is the $127 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities (see U.S. Debt Clock).” He says he “introduced a balanced budget amendment which will force Congress to rein in the out-of-control federal spending and restore confidence in the American economy.” He voted for both tax cut bills.
- Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-5). McMorris Rodgers says she “has consistently pushed for a Balanced Budget Amendment and voted for it on the House floor in April.” She voted for both tax cut bills and the omnibus spending bill.
Last month, the Congressional Budget Office announced that the federal budget deficit had hit $895 billion and would rise to $1 trillion before the year ends — earlier than predicted. They attributed the growth to the tax cuts and spending bills.