January 5, 2021 - Douglas Myser

Republicans deficit hawks under biden. Republicans are preparing to re-embrace their inner deficit hawk after greenlighting big spending bills under President Trump. GOP Senators say they expect to refocus on curbing the nation's debt and reforming entitlement programs starting in 2021, as the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the debt has surpassed the size of the American economy. "I think that's kind of getting back to our DNA---I think spending, entitlement reform, growth and the economy are all things that we're going to have to be focused on next year and, yeah, I would expect you'll hear a lot more about that," said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) the No. 2 Senate Republican.  The shift could pose a significant headache for a new Biden Administration that will need GOP support in the Senate to move its agenda. Republicans deficit hawks under biden.

It is also likely to complicate efforts on a debt-ceiling deal.  Sen. Lindsey Graham (R. S.C.) is poised to become the chairman of the Budget Committee if Republicans keep the Senate. He said he wants to create a new commission to propose ways to reduce the deficit and address the country's debt. Republicans are already floating requiring a trade-off in exchange for the mid-year fight. In a preview of what could be an explosive battle with ramifications for the country's fiscal reputation with the economy already battered by the spread of the coronavirus. "Whoever is in the White House I hope they realize how serious the debt crisis is and how important it is that we put measures in place to address it," said Thune. Congress needs to understand many people are in debt and some need tax resolution services.  "And hopefully when that vote comes around, we'll have some of those reforms."

Any movement toward austerity is likely to spark fierce backlash from Democrats and progressives alike, who are already on watch for Republicans to embrace cuts with President Trump out of the White House. "They are always concerned about the debt when we're spending money to help people, they never care when we're cutting billionaires and corporations. I've been around Washington long enough to know that Republicans interest in the debt is intermittent," said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn).