Fiscal Conservative Offers His Take On Trump's Budget Proposal

Feb 13, 2018
Originally published on February 13, 2018 5:43 am
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

For years, Republicans united around this one big idea, shrinking the national deficit. That is not a priority in a new budget proposal from President Trump. The president's budget would actually add to the national deficit some $7 trillion over 10 years. Here's President Trump's budget director, Mick Mulvaney.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MICK MULVANEY: I probably could have made it balance, but y'all would have rightly just absolutely excoriated us for using funny numbers.

MARTIN: So this unbalanced budget comes just days after President Trump signed a two-year spending bill, which will increase spending by $300 billion. Stephen Moore is an informal adviser to President Trump on the economy. He is with the Heritage Foundation and joins us now.

Stephen, thanks for being back on the show.

STEPHEN MOORE: Hi, Rachel.

MARTIN: Do Republicans care about the deficit anymore?

MOORE: Well, I'll start by saying there is a mini-revolt going on among conservatives - conservative Republicans. I don't know - that's not all Republicans - but among conservative organizations and conservatives, that there's just too much money being spent and that Republicans have been acting hypocritically when it comes to deficits and government spending. You mentioned the budget deal that was struck last week, $300 billion of additional spending beyond those spending caps that had been put in place in the Obama years. And that was certainly troubling to me.

And then you've got the budget that came out yesterday, and it is a big spending budget. And that's not what, you know, conservatives want to see. Whether Republicans are hypocritical - I mean, I think right now you could say they are because they certainly criticized Obama for running up big deficits, which he did. But now we're seeing that happen under a Republican administration.

MARTIN: So why do you think that is? I mean, it was just pure partisan politics that they were against deficits when President Obama was doing the spending and are fine with it if it's President Trump?

MOORE: Well, that's - it may be that (laughter). I think part of it is that - look, Donald Trump believes very strongly, as do his military advisers, that we have to spend more money on national defense. Those spending caps that I mentioned, Rachel, which really, I think, went back to around 2012 - so about five or six years - they have dramatically reduced our Pentagon spending. And Donald Trump believes that has put our national security at threat. And he wanted more money for the Pentagon. And to get that, the only way he could make a deal with Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, was to put a lot more money into the domestic social programs.

And so they struck a deal where both parties got more spending for what they wanted. And now Trump has various domestic spending initiatives that he has in this budget, Rachel, including substantial increases in spending for infrastructure. By the way, that's something that Democrats want to see as well - and the unions.

MARTIN: Sure.

MOORE: But he has money for building the wall and border security. He has money for dealing with the opiate addiction and many other initiatives. So this is a very unusual Republican budget.

MARTIN: Then let me ask you, as someone who still maintains that he is a fiscal conservative - a rare breed in Washington these days - what is the upshot? What are the consequences of all this spending and no deficit reduction?

MOORE: Well, look, I believe that the No. 1 - I was an adviser to Donald Trump on the economy, and I still speak to him about these things. And the most important thing is to get the economy moving faster. We've been in a rut of very slow growth for a long, long time - for the last decade. And I do see some very positive consequences to the tax cut that passed. I think we are going to put a lot of more people to work. I think we're going to have a lot more people paying taxes rather than collecting...

MARTIN: Yeah.

MOORE: ...Government benefits. And that's going to be a positive thing on the revenue side. But on spending right now, I guess I'm feeling pretty depressed that neither party is very serious about our fiscal future.

MARTIN: Stephen Moore with The Heritage Foundation - he advises, informally, the Trump administration on the economy.

Stephen, thanks.

MOORE: Thank you, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.